A prominent figure within the endurance running community who helped elevate long-distance running from a hobby to a sport has passed away.
Bill Squires, a legendary coach and runner from Boston, Massachusetts reportedly died Thursday at the age of 89, according to Runner’s World.
Squires coached no fewer than six different runners to victory in the Boston Marathon, and numerous runners under his tutelage won marathons and other long-distance races all around the globe through the 1960s-70s and beyond.
An “immense loss” for the running community
The Boston Globe reported that the cause of death for Squires has not yet been revealed, but it was known that his health had recently been in decline and he had been living in a rehab facility before passing away.
The Boston Athletic Association, of which Squires was a member, announced his death in a statement and said, “This is an immense loss for our running community. Bill was a cornerstone of the Boston running community and will be forever remembered for his passion and dedication to our sport.”
“His spirit will live on within each of us who had the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom and guidance. His greatest gift was bringing together and inspiring athletes and teams to strive for excellence in a way that few coaches could,” the BAA added. “From his time with the BAA to the Greater Boston Track Club and beyond, Coach Squires leaves a legacy that brought our sport to new heights and recognition. To his family and friends, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
Helped expand and transform the competitive running community
Runner’s World reported that Squires was born and raised in Arlington, Massachusetts, and spent the majority of his life in the Boston area, aside from his time as a star track athlete at Notre Dame University and a stint in the U.S. Army.
Squires was a standout runner who set records and won championships in high school and college and very nearly ran for the United States in the Olympics, but it was his career as a highly successful running coach, initially at the high school and college level, that truly earned him fame.
He is credited with helping develop the post-collegiate competitive running community, both with the BAA as well as a special team he founded known as the Greater Boston Track Club.
Squires, who was described as a bit of an eccentric man, also helped develop a unique style of training that included various tactics and simulations of race conditions, along with plenty of encouragement, that helped inspire the runners he mentored to victory in races around the world.
An inspirational coach who believed in his athletes
Local ABC affiliate WCVB reported that Bill Rodgers, a four-time Boston Marathon winner trained by Squires, said of his former coach, “He believed in you. Most people never had a coach, never had someone who believed in them. Once someone believes in you, you’ve got that strength. It’s not just you anymore.”
Runner’s World, citing an interview with the coach 11 years ago, recalled what Squires had said of his own eventual passing and how he would want to be remembered: “My hope is that when I drop there’ll be five or six guys around the United States who say, ‘You know, that friggin’ guy knew what he was doing.’ I have improved every athlete I’ve ever coached. Every one! Even the wackos.”