Tom O’Hara was the first runner in Illinois to break the four-minute mile barrier when he ran 3:59.4 for Loyola University Chicago in 1963. His March 6, 1964, indoor world record for the mile of 3:56.4 (beating his own time from a month earlier) would be a legacy that the skinny redhead would cherish. O’Hara could often be seen running around Saint Ignatius College Prep as a high schooler and Loyola University as a college student. His mom said “running was his Lent.” I think she meant that he suffered through it in all kinds of weather almost every day. Later he would run along the lake and there he ran into our author Patrick McCaskey who was serious about running–and a fan. This episode was described by McCaskey in Worthwhile Struggle our fourth book in the Sports and Faith Series.
I ran myself, but I don’t think I had the body for it. I boxed as well, but I don’t think I had the jaw for it. I can go on, but I think you understand… Today, I am a walker.
Instead of playing sports, I ended up cheering my kids on and eventually writing about it and producing sports books.
Tom O’Hara inspired Patrick McCaskey who still runs himself. Tom ran into his 70s. It’s a beautiful thing when you can keep up with something that has been such a huge part of your life.
Image: Illustration of Tom O’Hara by William Potter, a former quarterback at Princeton. Copyright 2019, Sporting Chance Press