Eight-Time US Cross-Country Champion Pat Porter Dies In Plane Crash

Porter Dies Tragically At Age 53

By LetsRun.com
July 26, 2012

Pat Porter, who won a record 8 straight US cross-country championships and also went to two Olympics in the 10,000, died on Thursday in a plane crash in Arizona. Pat was 53 years old.

Porter was only a 4:29 miler in high school, but after transferring to Adams State he flourished under the guidance of Joe Vigil. Porter was at his best in cross-country, where he won the US title from 1982 to 1989. During that time frame, he finished in the top 10 in the world at least four times with a high finish of fourth in 1984. Porter, who had a 10,000 personal best of 27:46.80, was also a two-time 10,000 Olympian (1984 and 1988).

Don't know much about Porter? We highly recommend Kenny Moore's feature on Porter which appeared in Sports Illustrated in 1986: Running On A Rocky Mountain High? Colorado's Pat Porter, U.S. cross-country champ since 1982, is an athlete truly in his element.

If one reads that piece, they'll quickly understand that Porter was the ultimate blue-collar runner. Moore's piece gave details of Porter's training regimen, which included 120-mile weeks at the 7,540 feet of altitude found in Alamosa, CO, and a bruising 10-day cycle of workouts which were very taxing according to Moore:

    Every day calls for considerable labor, from six one-mile runs (for which Porter recently averaged 4:19) to two hours through the sage to 16 400-meter intervals (Porter averaged 59.0 with a minute's rest between) to 10 miles at a five-minute-mile pace. Easy days are 12 miles, which Porter runs at a 5:40 pace.

It also was often very cold in Alamosa, but that didn't stop Porter, who said the following about the cold:

        "If it's 40 below, it's too cold for the wind to blow. You throw on a layer of polypropylene, some sweats and a windbreaker, and go on out."

The altitude didn't stop Porter from running fast in practice (even if the 'mile' in Alamosa was actually a bit short):

    "Did a 4:01 mile up here (in Alamosa), once I saw God, too, right at the end. Everything got foggy, and there were bright sparkles."

For more information on the crash or Porter, please see the links below or watch the video from KOB 4 in Albuquerque (Note: Many of the links say that the plane was registered to Pat Porter but they don't know if Pat perished, but one of Pat's friends called LetsRun.com Thursday evening and told us that Pat Porter did die in the crash).

Update: Three-time world cross country champion Lynn Jennings emailed us a great picture of her and Porter from a Nike advertising campaign.

Pat Porter (l) and Lynn Jennngs (r).

Photo courtesy of Jennings.

Crash-Related Links/News

Pat Porter dead in plane crash
BREAKING: ABQ Olympian’s Plane Crashes in Ariz., Three Dead

Three people killed in Arizona plane crash
Airport Manager: A man and 2 children on plane in Arizona crash

Previous LetsRun.com Threads On Porter

*The Amazing Pat Porter
*Pat Porter's training
*Where is Pat Porter today?
*Virgin/ Porter
*Pat Porter 1988 Olympics
*Bill Rodgers or Pat Porter

More LRC Threads On Porter

Photos Of Porter From 1986 US Cross Meet

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