Friday, July 24, 2009

Coolest running-related statue ever

This past March I took a 'spring training' and work-related trip to Savannah, GA, one of my favorite travel destinations.

In my 10 days there I had a couple of great long runs along the ocean at Tybee Island, ran a fun 5K in historic downtown Savannah (March of Dimes Shamrock Run) and I also tracked down a small lake (Lake Mayer) right in Savannah with a great pedestrian path all around it.

The evening after my race, I drove to Lake Mayer, ran four loops around the lake and was doing a short walking cool down when I first noticed a sign along the path. (Yes, I had run past it on each of my laps and no, I hadn't noticed it before. This keen attention to detail also might explain why I never pursued a career as a roving reporter.)

The sign said "Julie Backus Smith Trail." I made a mental note to try to find out who Julie is/was when I returned to my hotel room and my trusty laptop.

But it was just then I saw the other thing I had missed every lap around the lake.

The coolest running-related statue I have ever seen.

It was a sculpture of Julie, who, as I later ascertained, had died in December 2003. She is described as a community activist and marathoner.

Apparently Lake Mayer was one of her favorite training grounds.

What really struck me about this bronze statue is how life-like it is. The details in things like facial expression, muscles and clothing are just amazing. Plus it was placed on a ramp and it is meant to be approached from both sides by children and adults, according to the this article at

My mind immediately raced to how we should have this type of memorial in Minnesota. There's a long list of possible honorees, but my first thought was, Ron Daws. How cool would it be to have a great statue of the late 1968 Olympic Marathoner along a popular running path in Minnesota?


  1. Unfortunately as of this date the statue of Julie is gone. Not sure why or how.

    1. What? Sorry to hear this! I was down in Savannah last November but unfortunately didn't get a chance to go to Lake Mayer. This is very strange. Somebody obviously put a lot of time and effort into this statue. I do wonder where it is and why it was moved.

  2. I just stumbled on your article when I too, was looking up Julie Backus Smith. You'll be happy to know that the statue was removed for a short time for cleaning and is been back in place.

    1. Thank you so much for the information! (And for your Facebook message, which I just read.) I also saw there's a (different) statue of Julie in Bonaventure Cemetery. Have you seen that one?