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Tommy Hafey

In his 70s, Tommy Hafey was used to advertize Jeeps,
which were celebrating their 70th birthday.

Tommy Hafey wasn't a runner, he was an outstanding Australian Rules Football coach and former player.  And he didn't even play for my favourite team, but he was a role model for anybody interested in a healthy lifestyle and an exemplar of self-discipline.  He was ever-present in the news in my formative running years in Melbourne, and some of my regular runs passed by the Richmond Football Ground where he was a celebrated coach.  Although I have no specific recollection of ever meeting him, I have a vague feeling that our paths did cross once or twice.

This morning, I heard the sad news that Tommy had died yesterday at the age of 82.  It was a bit of a surprise, because I had heard him interviewed quite recently, and he was very articulate, upbeat, and still religious about his early morning run, swim, and push-up routine by Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne.

Tommy doing his early morning push-ups by Port
Phillip Bay in Melbourne.
(Picture: Andrew Tauber Source: Herald Sun)
I admired him because he espoused many of the ideas that are dear to my heart.  Most importantly, perhaps, was his dedication to physical fitness and self-discipline.  Not only did he lead by example through his personal exercise regime, and never smoked or drank alcohol, but he was a trail-blazer in developing fitness programs for his football teams, including employing the ideas of cutting edge runners/thinkers such as Percy Cerutty and Herb Elliott in the 1960s.

He was passionate about the value of exercise generally and was an evangelist for a healthy lifestyle, changing the lives of many people for the better along the way.  Apparently it took a malignant brain tumour to finish him off, and mercifully it appears to have been a short illness.  His passing has tinged my day with a little sadness.

My exercise for today comprised a slow 10km run on stiff and tired legs.  It was a grind early, but once I warmed up became a little more enjoyable.  The good news was that my right Achilles tendon was much less painful.