The rain stopped and sun shone brightly on Munfordville, Kentucky’s famous son, Stanley W. Cottrell Jr., befitting the honor bestowed upon him on “Remembering Munfordville Day,” June 20, 2015. The Superintendent of Schools and Munfordville Tourism unveiled a Historical Marker recognizing Stan Cottrell’s unique ultra-distance running accomplishments from breaking the Trans-USA Guinness Record by five days in 1980, to serving as effective Goodwill Ambassador to the peoples of the world through his decades of international “Friendship Runs.”
The Munfordville community took time out and friends of yesteryear got together to celebrate what Cottrell refers to as victory for the past, present and future. “That place prepared and ignited me to go out into the world and endure some of the most austere living conditions around the globe.”
It prepared him to get along with people of diverse cultures and reach them in a special way, to break down walls that divide one human heart from another. That was true when he was celebrated in the Forbidden Zone in China in 1984, and when he made a Friendship Run in North Vietnam pre-normalization. It was true when he ran in the Soviet Union, through African countries, and as a recognized Christian running in some Muslim countries.
All told, Cottrell has run some 250,000 miles, including powerful Friendship Runs in over 39 foreign countries, as reported in Trendsetters: https://smallbusinesstrendsetters.com/ultra-distance-runner-stan-cottrell-reveals-power-of-friendship-runs/ .
Yet in spite of international fame, Stan Cottrell has never failed to express appreciation and love for the people and place of his birth. The Editor of the Hart County News addressed him: “You’ve never forgotten your roots; you always talk about them.”
After all, Cottrell traditions run deep there. Stan’s great-great-grandfather was the first deed-holder in beautiful Hart County, farmland that’s still in family hands, where Daniel Boone’s young son is buried and Indian artifacts line the bottom of pristine streams. There Stan Cottrell grew up, often barefoot, chasing a rabbit, running down cows for neighbors, and winning the 100 yard dash at the 1959 Hart County Fair. In 1960, he won a $5 bet from friends that he could not run from Horse Cave to Munfordville, and although they only paid $3, that feat fed his “overcomer” spirit for the future.
Rising from such humble beginnings to being honored in the White House, U.S. Congress and palaces of the world, Cottrell is welcomed equally in peasant cottages. The facts on the Marker cannot adequately convey his warmth, humility, genuineness, and common bonds of humanity that transcend geographical, cultural and political boundaries.
For future generations, this permanent Marker will continually remind children that yes, one man can make a difference in the world . . . even a child from backwoods Kentucky. The famous line from Gladiator could well have been spoken by Cottrell: “Remember, men, everything we do in life echoes for eternity.”
Internationally acclaimed artist and creative director, Dr. Brad Coriell, spoke further to that theme during the unveiling ceremony, asserting that as adults, we appreciate the strict diet, physical and mental conditioning Stan Cottrell must put himself through before each Herculean task of running such great distances. Yet, what we don’t see is the “ring of magic” that surrounds the man on each adventure that can only be seen through the eyes of a child, or an adult with a child-like heart.
Children flock to Stan Cottrell to see and touch him, this man who can do something no one else in the world can do. Most children only need one hero, one adult example that can lead the way. That can give them enough faith in themselves to do what seems to be impossible in their home, town or country. Their innocent eyes consider the man before them who has encircled the world many times with his feet hitting the ground again and again and again to achieve his goals. They start to feel the quiet dreams hidden in their hearts now come forward, accompanied with a giant, “What if? If he can, why can’t I?”
Coriell concluded: “We honor the man today for those unbelievable accomplishments behind him and the challenges that still lie ahead of him. Yet for me, his greatest accomplishments of all are not on this dedication plaque but in his heart. Those magical qualities he passes onto the youth of the world, magic only they can perceive and gain inspiration to build their futures upon.”
As a symbol of the legacy being left for future generations, author Marissa Hale’s “Miracle Baby,” Autumn, joined “Pap” by his Marker. This is quite fitting, for through his runs and outreaches, Stan Cottrell seeks to bring hope and help to children the world over, encouraging them to dream big dreams. “And if that doesn’t work, dream bigger!”
More about Stan Cottrell’s Friendship Runs online at: http://FriendshipSports.org.