Goodbye, coach: a tribute to Mike Broderick

This past Friday, four weeks to the day after being diagnosed with stage 4 Non Small Cell Lung Adenocarcinoma (lung cancer), my coach and ultrarunning mentor passed away.  A former pack-a-day smoker and trial lawyer, Mike Broderick discovered running in the late-90’s and quickly cleaned up his act, eventually quitting the law game altogether to pursue his passion of coaching runners.  Sadly, it appears that the damage was already done.

Mike crossing the line at the Western States 100

As recently as June, Mike seemed healthy and happy as ever, running the Western States 100 miler in a time of 26:53.  It wasn’t until September that he noticed some chest pains while running a marathon, so he went to the doc to get checked out for pneumonia.  Conditions quickly changed over the next 4 weeks, but Mike remained positive throughout this time and he greatly cherished the outpouring of support from his running family.  A team of his marathon trainees running the NYC Marathon were able to raise $35,000 for lung cancer research during his short battle with the disease.

Mike at MMTR 50-miler

The thing is, Mike wasn’t just a coach who wrote you up a training schedule and sent you on your way.  He had a fire in him about running (the Grateful Dead, too) that shined through whether he was coaching, running, or doing both at the same time.  He took me under his wing and introduced me to the world of ultrarunning two years ago at the Potomac Heritage 50k, and this simple act has had such a profound impact on my life that I will never be able to thank him enough.  He trained me up for my first 50-miler, paced me at my first 100-miler attempt, convinced me to skip work on a Monday so that we could run an impromptu 50k from his house, but most importantly, he shared his passion so that I could cultivate my own.  Everything I know about running, I owe it to you, Mike.

Nothing like a gloved Vibram to get your ass in gear for running 100 miles

Thank you for everything, coach.  The shared stories, the lessons learned, the countless miles and the countless smiles.  Although your life was taken too soon, there is no doubt that you have changed the lives of so many for the better.  Your legacy will live on, and just as you always have been, I know you’ll have my back with every step.

Happy trails, Mike.

Michael Patrick Broderick
November 6, 1956 – November 5, 2010