James Daniel Ferstle
Jim Ferstle, 71, of St. Paul passed away at 7:02am on June 6th following a courageous battle with Alzheimer's and cancer at home, surrounded by loved ones. Jim is survived by his wife Anne, son Michael, brother David, and sister Mary. He was born in Toledo, Ohio to parents Grace and John Ferstle. The family also lived in Delaware, and eventually settled in Minnesota.
Jim attended Bowling Green University on a partial athletic (running) scholarship. Jim was a distance runner through and through. He won the Toledo City Championship in the 2 Mile in 1968. His Bowling Green team won the Mid America Cross Country Conference championship in 1969 and his teammate Dave Wottle went on to win the silver medal in the 800m at the 1972 Olympics. Jim competed at a high level throughout the years, famously winning the Hopkins Raspberry run in 1977 by a wide margin, as he was the only person to beat the train at a crossing on the course. He began running marathons as well and achieved his personal best in the Milwaukee Marathon with a time of 2:22:45. He continued to race for many years placing 5th in Grandma's Marathon senior division in 1983 (2:26:44). He was in the cohort of runners that included Ron Daws, Dick Beardsley, Bruce Mortenson, Garry Bjorklund, Tim Zbikowksi and many other famous Minnesota runners. Jim covered running in Minnesota as the running columnist for the St Paul Pioneer Press in the late 80s-early 90s. He wrote a book, Contemporary Jogging. He and his wife Anne founded Meters and Miles, a small publication for women’s running in Minnesota in the late 70s. In more recent years he covered Minnesota running in a blog called Down the Backstretch.
Jim often covered women’s running as a journalist, and was an active supporter of women’s distance running. He was involved with the group that brought the first women’s only marathon to Minnesota in the early 1980s. He remained friends with some of those runners, such as Jacqueline Hansen and Lorraine Moeller over the years. He remained a fervent advocate for gender equality in distance running and sport in general and was a friend and booster of Paula Radcliffe in her work to improve equality in women's distance running.
Jim became freelance as a journalist after moving to London in 1992 with his family while his wife earned a Master's degree at the London Business School. In this time period, he developed a specialty in reporting on drugs in sport. He was a prolific contributor to books, magazines, newspapers, including Road Race Management newsletter, film, and TV on the subject. He worked closely with Dr. Don Catlin at UCLA's athletic drug testing lab to deeply understand the issue of doping and how it was affecting the sports he loved. He began an email list to hundreds of subscribers on doping and drugs in sport around this time. He continued this list until Alzheimer's made it hard to distribute. Jim was active in the Minnesota Distance Running Association and was on the board of directors and served as president. He edited and provided photography for the MDRA newsletter for several years. He served as Secretary of the Road Runners Club of America from 1986-87, and received the RRCA’s Jerry Little Excellence in Journalism award in 1994. He also received the American Swim Coaches Association's Media award at their conference in New Orleans in 2001 for his work with his email list.
Jim loved animals, and begrudgingly adopted a beagle named Stella after his wife Anne brought her home in 2000. Stella and Jim logged thousands of miles over her 18 year life, and their social circle expanded to other dogs they would meet and adopt into their running/walking cohort. Jim would continue to run/walk Zelda, a friend's dog, until he was no longer able to last year. He ran, cross country skied, and swam for hours for almost every day of his adult life. Residents of Highland Park (and especially former students at Highland High School) often recognized "Quick Jimmy" as the fanatic Roller Ski early adopter, who was constantly circling Highland Golf Course and High School.
He will be dearly missed by his family, the running community, and the friends (animal and human) he has left behind.
A photo gallery appears at this link.