Jaqi Hansen Going the Distance

Two time world record holder in the marathon, Boston Marathon 1973 winner, and instrumental in bringing women’s distance events to the Olympics- Jaqi Hansen talks it all. That thing about the world you’ve been wanting to change, do what Jaqi did, throw years and will at it.

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12:54 You should never take anything for granted, because a whole lot of people were responsible for giving you an opportunity, so you should also not waste your God-given talent. Yes, never take it for granted. Leave the world in a better place.

1:02:50 I’m just going through as many of the top ranked five and 10,000 meter runners from as many countries as I can get, and we ended up with I think it was 70 women from almost 30 different countries. I have actual right to sue letters along with the IRC introductory cover letter and our newsletter all translated in 10 different languages through the Nike International department mailed off and mailed back. I still got them in a binder. 10 different languages all around the world. Some of those women are really putting a lot on the line. It took a lot of courage. They don’t live in as friendly environment as I am here in the U.S. Maybe they don’t enjoy the same rights. Maybe it was pretty challenging for some of them to sign on the dotted line like that, but they did. We had a case. They took us on, and they paid for everything that Nike didn’t pay for. Nike paid for our press conference. Mind you, now, the Olympics are coming to Los Angeles in 1984. We announced the lawsuit in the summer of ’83, and we maximized the audience by going to the first track and field world championships in Helsinki in August of ’83. We just kept getting re-moved to court until we’re up to appellate court, and we’re running out of time or we probably would have gone to the Supreme Court, but we did not win in court, but you can lose a battle and still win the war. I believe that is exactly what happened for us. We now have the world’s attention. They don’t look good for not adding these events. Within 30 days, they added the 10,000 before 1988. Not for ’84, they’re not going to let us control that. They’re going to show us who is in charge, so they postponed it. They add the 5,000 two Olympics later.

1:13:30 I think what the women and men who are not doing performance enhancing drugs, all they ask is a clean fair race. Is that too much to ask for? I just don’t know how they’re going to stay on top of it. I don’t know how they’re going to control it, how they’re going to legislate it. It just feels like athletes who do cheat are always one step ahead of the drug testers, and the drug testers are always being reactive, and instead of proactive, and they don’t know what’s coming and what’s down the line. What do we test for next? How do we test for? How do we catch them? It just seems like a constant battle. 

Produced by Chris Derr and James Newhouse. Music by Chris Hoogewerff.

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