Bill Robinson, HMRRC Hall of Fame member and standout local runner, passed away on March 6, 2021. As a runner, Bill was elite. While focused on shorter events (he clocked a 1:59 800 meter as a master, a 4:24 mile as a 42-year-old and won both the 800 and 1500 meters masters titles in the Empire State Games), Bill more than held his own in longer events (posting a 2:35 marathon PR).
Bill was more than just a good runner, though. He carried his weight as an HMRRC member, directing races and regularly volunteering for events. A life-long resident of Cohoes, Bill coached track at Cohoes’s Keveny Academy.
In recognition of his prowess as a runner and his contributions to the club, Bill was inducted into the HMRRC HOF in 2001, and the club’s annual Masters 10K was renamed in his honor in 2003.
On March 16, 1990, Bill was out for a mid-day training run with three other runners when he was struck from behind by an elderly motorist. The accident left Bill paralyzed from the chest down with a severe spinal cord injury. His running days were over. But his competitive spirit remained intact. Wheelchair bound, Bill worked hard on his conditioning and was a regular fixture at local running events (especially the Troy Turkey Trot) where he cheered on competitors whom he had once dominated.
Some HMRRC members shared their memories:
Having had the great pleasure to run with and against Bill over the course of many years, I can honestly say that he was one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever known. We shared many a memory from Masters Championship teams, to Empire State Games, to marathons and a myriad of local races. He was truly a talented athlete and genuinely nice human being, who along with his family, handled his adversity with tremendous grace and dignity.
I was fortunate to have been coached by Bill at Keveny. I will always be grateful for the introduction he provided me to running and to the HMRRC, and the great example he set as a competitor and as a person.
To me, Bill was the quintessential club member – an outstanding runner who gave back to his sport. He was invariably gracious and positive, both before and after his accident. An example for the rest of us.
Bill loved his wife, his two daughters, the grandchildren, running, his beloved city of Cohoes, and a cold beer. Consider myself most fortunate to have gotten to know this kind generous, humble gentleman.
I met Bill in 1975. He was neighbor, friend and running mentor. In a few short years, he molded me into a serviceable runner. It was an honor and privilege to have known him.
Bill Robinson was an amazing person. He was a gentle man, very cordial, always helpful, extremely witty. Bill had his priorities straight on everything and every person in his life. As a runner, he was a ferocious competitor. In the all-time best times in the Masters mile for the Colonie High track meets, Bill held 6 of the 9 fastest times. The only other person in that list is Barry Brown. Bill had a remarkable ability to deal with pain, which made him a great runner, and allowed Bill to deal with his disability better than anyone I have ever seen. Rest in peace, dear friend.
James Tierney (Race Director, Bill Robinson Masters 10K)
It is difficult, or maybe impossible to put into words how kind, humble, caring and thoughtful Bill was to me, but he was that plus much more. Rest easy my friend.