• He's been called the Pied Piper of the Second Running Boom. Once an overweight couch potato with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 Bingham looked mid-life in the face—and started running.

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The Final Countdown

jumpingjohn copyThey say a photo is worth a thousand words. This photo is actually worth over 160,000 words. 18 years. 12 columns a year. 750 words per column – give or take. And that’s just the written words. There’s no way to calculate the number of spoken words over the course of the past 18 years. From small gatherings in running specialty stores to hundreds of people at race expos to thousands of Team in Training participants at inspiration dinners I’ve talked to, tried to inspire and motivate, and made giggle more people than I could possible count.

This December that all comes to an end. I’m going to retire.

In the next few months I’ll take time to articulate all the reasons for retiring. The obvious: I’ll be 66 years old. I worked through college, had a full-time job in addition to being in the Army Band, worked through a master’s degree and doctorate, had careers as a musician and academic, created and sold a race management company, and since 1996 have been an evangelist for living a healthy, active lifestyle as “the Penguin.” I’m tired!

Hunter Thompson wrote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”  Take my word for it, I have done my very best to live up to that admonition.

The few people that I’ve told have asked me what I’ll do with my time. I don’t have a great answer. But, then aJOHN_CGIa copygain, if you had asked me in 1996 what I thought would happen with “the Penguin” I wouldn’t have had an answer either. What I’ve learned is that no plan that I could ever have had could have possibly been as great as what happened. I have faith that whatever happens next will be every bit as exciting and fun as what has gone before.

I’ve got a handful of Rock ‘n’ Roll events left: Seattle, Chicago, VA Beach, Philly, Savannah, Las Vegas, and the last hurrah in San Antonio. I’ll also have a few more columns on Competitor.com, and then it’s time to turn the page and look forward to the next chapter.

To be honest, I do have few ideas. There are races that I’ve always wanted to run but couldn’t because of my schedule. I’m looking forward to lining up with a few hundred – or a few thousand – of my closest friends and challenging myself. I’ve also got a motorcycle or two that are begging to be ridden. I haven’t ridden cross-country since my son and I did it to promote the 1999 Suzuki Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty again. There’s something both peaceful and cathartic about working in the garage. Bringing an old bike back to life, or keeping a new one looking and running well has always been one of my favorite things to do.

What will I miss? You. You, the readers. You, the runners and walkers. You, the wonderful people who were kind enough to allow me to enjoy the life that I’ve lived these past 18 years. Without you, none of the joy that has defined my life would have been possible.

So stay tuned. It ain’t over till it’s over, as Yogi Berra said.

Waddle on, friends.

John

 

 

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7 Responses

  1. I am so sad to see this come to an end and will miss you so much. You have inspired and encouraged me in so many areas of my life , not just running. I wish you the best and know you will be. ” Waddle On”

  2. […] mention John Bingham because he just announced today on his website, The Penguin Chronicles, that he will be retiring in December after a torrid run through the industry over the last 18 […]

  3. Can NOT check off the “Like” button, will miss your posts.
    Understand the realities of life as one who is a bit older than you, but will miss seeing you at the races. Not planning to quit racing, but you may get a smile out of my current quest. Will turn 70 in Feb 2015, having started doing these at RnR Country Music Half in 2005. Decided it would be good for a giggle to finish 35 Half Marathons before reaching 70.
    Did #33 on June 1, scheduled to make Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF as #35. Hope you will be in SF on 10/19/14 since you were in Nashville on 4/30/05.

  4. Selfishly, I am sorry to hear this, but I am really happy for you! I just walked my fourth half-marathon recently, and I “Marathoning for Mortals” has been such a huge help to me. I have set my sights on finally doing a marathon in December, and I know that your training schedule will get me there. All the best to you! (btw-I grew up in Murfreesboro :) )

  5. […] John “The Penguin” Bingham has announced his retirement. […]

  6. […] of winners prizes for fewer races, but now ten deep. John “The Penguin” Bingham has announced his retirement. Have a listen to this new podcast by Kari Gormley called The Running Lifestyle Show. It’s […]

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