John “The Penguin” Bingham

After 16 years, Rock ‘n’ Roll announcer and running icon, John “The Penguin” Bingham, retired after the 2014 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon & 1/2 Marathon race weekend.

He’s been called the Pied Piper of the second running boom — and for good reason. Since his column “The Penguin Chronicles” started in Runner’s World magazine in May of 1996, John “The Penguin” Bingham has become one of the running community’s most popular and recognized personalities. Now, as a feature columnist for Competitor Magazine, John’s popularity continues to grow.

Through his books, column and blogs, Bingham has inspired a generation of new runners to find joy in walking, running and racing. His transformation from a life of “sedentary confinement” to marathoner has become a model for people of all ages and abilities. Once an overweight couch potato, he looked mid-life in the face — and got moving. Since then, he has participated in over 45 marathons and hundreds of 5K, 10K and half marathon races.

As John describes it, “the Penguin” was created quite by accident. About six months into his running career, he caught a glimpse of a short, overweight, middle-aged man in a store front window. The man, dressed in a white shirt and black shorts, was waddling more than running. When he realized the man was a reflection of himself, John laughed and began to call himself “the Penguin.”

Bingham says, “Through running, I create myself as I have always wanted to be. Nothing in my experience was as powerful as crossing the finish line of my first race. With that single step, I overcame a lifetime of unkept promises to myself.” In a self-effacing and humorous manner, Bingham delivers his message of hope and inspiration to people who’ve been running for a week or a lifetime. His message has universal appeal — to elite runners at the Boston Marathon and members of local running and walking clubs alike.

With evangelical passion, Bingham travels nearly 300 days a year as the Penguin world continues to expand. He is the National Spokesperson for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and a clinician and principal announcer at the Competitor Group’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series.

His first book, The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life, has been among the top 10 running books since its publication (Simon & Schuster, April 1999.) In April 2002, Bingham’s book No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running was published by Rodale Press.

In May 2003, Bingham’s book Marathoning for Mortals: A Regular Person’s Guide to the Joy of Running or Walking a Full or Half Marathon, co-authored by Coach Jenny Hadfield, was published by Rodale Press. The book has become one of the best selling marathon and half marathon training guides ever written. In 2007, he and his wife Coach Jenny Hadfield completed Running for Mortals and have brought their message of joy and self-discovery to a new generation of runners.

Amby Burfoot, editor of Runner’s World, says of Bingham: “People can so identify with John and his struggles and with his attempts to be faster than he is. John shows them that it’s okay for runners to admit their inadequacies.”