Saturday, June 2, 2012

Some Thoughts On Perc

A few rambling thoughts on the Man. Some may have wondered if I had left out a y after reading the above title.I understand that Cerutty was often called Perc by those who knew him. Another thing,for many years I pronounced Cerutty as Cerooty. He once wrote that his last name was actually pronounced Cerity, as in the last part of the word sincerity.On a related note,Cerutty was called many other names throughout his life,a fair amount of them could be described as derogatory in nature.I am often asked by people about the numerous reports of inappropriate,rude,vindictive and downright nasty behaviour and speech exhibited by him during his life.It would be easy to chalk this all up to his being arrogant or that he was just another old crank but there was a reason for the way he sometimes was,just as there is one for all of us.You get a good look into why he was the way he was in the excellent biography by Graem Sims.What you learn is that Cerutty experienced a great deal of physical deprivation as he was growing up. I'm talking about not enough food and adequate shelter here. Add to this poor health and an enviroment that wasn't always conducive to emotional stability and you understand why he  seemed to be periodically wracked with feelings of insecurity and paranoia.Cerutty often had this me versus them mentality.I would venture to say that this was also a result of the situation and conditions he was raised in. It's remarkable that he became as successful as he did. Many people having a similar type of upbringing have gone the other way,leading a life of self-destruction by drinking and/or drugging themselves in order to deal with the pain.                                      Percy wrote this in regards to difficulties and failures: "It then becomes a case of faith,the going on in faith in oneself, a faith that can eventually break through,achieve in some way,at some time." Yes, determination,stick-to-ittiveness and faith in yourself,is, and always will be,the key to success.
Awhile back, someone wrote and said they were doing an article on Cerutty and asked for my thoughts on him.The writer was clearly looking towards the Percy who trained runners,not the philosopher.I have seen this slant on him before.Every now and then you'll read a story,usually about a high school cross-country coach, who has come across some info on Percy or Stotanism and has his kids busting their butts on the trails.While this may be good,the athletes are being shortchanged in the Stotan/Cerutty department. Cerutty's greatest contribution came in the philosophy he taught,not the training regimen.His views on athleticism, naturalism, materialism,achieving success,nutrition and rugged individualism,as well as his belief in the necessity of developing the complete athlete(physically,mentally), were and are, his greatest contribution. There are very few coaches,if any in modern times,who have articulated so well insights into such a wide range of subjects.There was a time not too long ago that an athlete would be told that all he had to do was train hard and listen to his coach.Cerutty accurately wrote of the shortsightedness of such a mindset. I always think back to this quote by him directed to those athletes who desired success: "success is the result of deep thought." Amen to that Perc!
Postscript: It may seem strange that I have a picture of Zola Budd,now Zola Pieterse, on a post about Cerutty. This however makes perfect sense.Zola is a Stotan who exemplifies so many of the qualities he taught. At 45 years old,she is still training and racing. She's also a volunteer coach at a University close to where she lives(Myrtle Beach(S.C.).She has sought out new challenges,running the Two Oceans Ultra(58km) this past March and is set to race the Comrades Marathon in South Africa this coming Sunday. For the few who may not know,this "marathon" is either 51 or 52 miles long.The great multi-Comrades winner Bruce Fordyce has been acting as Zola's coach for the race. I believe you can watch a live stream of the race on the Comrades site. Good luck Zola!!

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