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Dick Beardsley: Marathon Runner & Drug Addict

April 7, 2011, 5:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

Dick Beardsley: Marathon Runner & Drug Addict
Dick Beardsley is one of the greatest long distance runners of all-time. In 1982, he finished a close second in the Boston Marathon to the world record holder, Alberto Salazar.

But this Minnesota native also carries another title that he likes to talk about, drug addict. Today he shared his inspirational story with the boys at McCrossan Boy's Ranch in Sioux Falls.

During the 1982 Boston Marathon, no one thought Dick Beardsley had a chance of beating reigning champ Alberto Salazar, not even himself.

But overcoming obstacles is something Beardsley's been doing all his life. 

"We've all been through trying times in our life and these kids probably at this point in their lives to leave the message and give them the hope that know their lives can get better and can go on to be very successful at whatever they choose they want to do," Beardsley said.

Beardsley is now retired from running, but speaks about his rugged upbringing, something he says resonates with some of these boys. 

"My mom and dad were both alcoholic, there was no physical abuse, but there was a lot of verbal abuse and then later physical abuse between my mom and dad when they were drinking," Beardsley said.

Beardsley never drank, but became addicted to pain killers following a farming accident that seriously injured him.

"I started taking these pills for more than the surgeries. I had been had thinking it would make the problems go away, but it made it worse and then I just go into a free fall," Beardsley said.

Beardsley eventually got caught writing his own prescriptions and was sentenced to five months probation.

Now at age 55, Beardsley has been sober for 14 years and wants people, like the boys here, to learn from his mistakes, but also his accomplishments. It's not about how you start a race, it's about how you finish. 

"Don't ever give up on those dreams if you believe in something, don't let anyone tell you you can't do that, you might have to do it the hard way, but it can come true," Beardsley said.

Beardsley is the guest speaker tonight at the McCrossan Boy's Ranch fundraiser and silent auction. He's written a book titled Staying the Course. To learn more about him and his personal struggles and victories, go to his website

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