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.
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 leading marathon pace groups, speaking to packed rooms of runners of all levels, and guiding an ever-growing number of fans. The travel is necessary, he believes, to keep in touch with the hearts and ‘soles’ of the second running boomers whose advocate he’s become.
In the summer of 1997, John toured 23 States in 56 days on his motorcycle. In 1998, he logged 31 States in 20 weeks. In 1999 he and his son launched the 1999 Penguin Tour with an 11-day cross-country motorcycle ride, after which they ran the Suzuki Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon together. 2000 found him on the road for nearly 6 months on his Millenium tour and in 2001 he covered 11,000 miles during the Penguin Odyssey tour.
These days, John is more likely to be flying than driving 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.
Beyond all that, Bingham is the honorary race director of Elite Racing’s Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee, and a founder of the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. He is in constant demand as a clinician and has been a featured speaker the Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Country Music, Dallas/White Rock, Disney, Flying Pig, Honolulu, Houston, Mayor’s Midnight Sun, Myrtle Beach, Portland, Rock ‘n’ Roll, San Diego, San Francisco, and Vermont City marathons. He’s led over 15 Runner’s World marathon pace groups in the U.S. and has been the only U.S. member of the Runner’s World UK pacing team at the London marathon.
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 June 2003, Breakaway Books published the second edition of The Penguin Brigade Training Log – co-authored by Coach Jenny Hadfield. The all new second edition includes a food log, an “i-rate” scale to measure your effort, and 52 weeks of inspirational messages.
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.”