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Ed Sandifer

Class of 2024

Springfield, MA

    Ed Sandifer was a neurodiverse wonder of Midwestern farm folk born December 6,1951 in Ottumwa, Iowa. Growing up he also lived in Oklahoma, Minnesota and New Jersey. He went to West Deptford High School in New Jersey where he competed in track to keep in shape for his first love, soccer. Although track running was very secondary to soccer, he still cranked out a 53 second quarter mile!


    Sometime during his senior year at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, Ed began running again, influenced by his good friend Mark Elmer. This began his two famous streaks…Ed never missed a day of running for the next 37+ years, nor did he miss running the Boston Marathon for 37 years in a row (averaging 3 hours 8 minutes over those 37 years). Several of his close races with friends’ fat Ricky Cleary and Dave Harvey were some of his fondest Boston Marathon memories.


    Ed was known to enjoy racing. So much so, that it was somewhat of a detriment to his training. Over the July 4th holiday in 1981, Ed ran 5 races;- finishing with quality times in all of them. 


    One of the highlights of Ed’s in the 1970s was setting the National record for 27 year olds in the 2 hour run (20 miles, 327 yards) at the dirt indoor track at Amherst College. His good friends Rick Cleary, and Don & Sue Grant were there supporting his effort. Not known as a fast track, it was an amazing accomplishment (especially considering that the Amherst rugby team was impeding him for part of it).


    One unusual goal that Ed had was to run in every town in Massachusetts! There are 351 towns/cities in the state, and he achieved his goal of running in every one of them!


    Ed enjoyed running marathons, with a personal best time of 2 hours 33 minutes. One of his marathon highlights was the 1983 Holyoke Race of Champions Marathon. He had run the Springfield YMCA 5 Miler the day before (finishing 2nd) and stayed up late that night with no plan to run a marathon the next day. Ed showed up to the starting line of the Holyoke race on a whim, planning on a training run. He went out fast with the leader (who fell by the wayside early). Ed ended up winning by about a minute over his teammate Mike Kelleher in a time of 2 hours 37 minutes. He then ran the difficult Forest Park Summer Sizzler 5k XC race 2 days later in 17:40 for 4th place! Three races in 4 days with the middle one being a marathon victory!


    In 1984, Ed intentionally tied for victory with his young teammate Mike Lemay at the N.E. 20k Championship in Gardner, MA. They both ran 66:13 on the difficult, hilly, windy course. Ed’s generosity in letting Mike tie helped Mike earn a full athletic scholarship to the University of Hartford!


    Ed was not only a long distance runner. In 1982, he helped set the 4 x 880 meet record at the Sugarloaf track meets with his fellow GSH teammates Ken Kaczenski, Paul Vertefeuille & Gary Crowley in a time of 8:11.1.


    Ed would travel to UMASS with his teammates for indoor track speed workouts. One of the things that amazed his teammates was that Ed could calculate instantly how much extra distance one ran by not staying in the inside lane! 


    Ed was famous for his long beard. He looked a lot like Springfield’s Forest Park land donor, C. Everett Barney. Every April 19th, He would travel from southern Connecticut to dress up in a top hat and drape ice skates over his shoulders and run the Barney Day Race at Forest Park (many times winning it). Despite his short time living in Springfield, he is 4th on the all-time victories list at the GSH Summer Sizzlers and tied for 10th for all time victories for the Snowstorm Classics. He still holds several age records for those Forest Park races.


    Ed was known for the invention of the chocolate chip cookie workout. Every hour on the hour he would run 5 miles and then he would rest, drink tea & eat chocolate chip cookies until the next hour chimed! He sometimes did this for 5 or 6 hours although typically it was 3 or 4. Many of the WNEC runners he coached participated in these workouts from his house in Springfield.


    Competitors remember the “5k” race in Hampden MA that turned out to be more like 5 miles. Ed was able to recover and finish in first place after going out too fast just like all the competitors did. Obviously, the course was never measured, just “guesstimated”.


    Ed was instrumental in starting the (then) WNEC XC club in 1979. He approached the athletic department and jumped through lots of administrative hoops to get a varsity XC team started in the fall of 1980. He was the team’s first coach. Ed coached by example, running almost all the workouts with his teams.  In 2011 he was inducted into the WNEU Downe’s Athletic Hall of Fame at the school.


    When Ed moved to Connecticut, he continued to compete for GSH and traveled to Springfield races and championship races with the team. He is famous in Roxbury, Connecticut for winning their race series 12 times which is an all-time record. He was also the race director (as well as series diplomat) for many seasons. Long time racer Scott Benjamin said that Sandifer was the most intelligent person to ever run in the race series.


    Some adjectives to describe Ed would be humble, helpful, friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, amazing, and competitive.


    He was a good father, mathematician, course certifier, race director, professor, coach, department head, section chair, committee member, statistician, author, host, husband, friend, teammate, mentor & also a genius! He scored 800 on every standardized math test he ever took. Ed taught himself Latin so that he could translate the works of 18th century mathematician Leonhard Euler.


    In 2009, Ed had a massive stroke during a medical procedure. Although the odds were stacked against him, he was amazing because he got the most out of his everyday life as was possible after his stroke. He passed away August 31, 2022. He is survived by his daughters Elizabeth and Victoria and his wife Terry who lives in Southern Connecticut.         

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