Rock Green Facebook photo

Rock Green, an accomplished distance runner who was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame in November, died early Monday after suffering a massive stroke. He was 65.

From 1978 to 1987, Mr. Green completed more than 40 marathons and ultra-marathons, including 50- and 100-milers and 12- and 24-hour runs with at least nine wins in races of 26.2 miles and over, according to a biography he wrote for his Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

He was a three-time winner of the “Triple Crown of Marathoning,” sponsored by Maine Running Magazine, winning three marathons a year in 1981, 1983 and 1985.

Truth is, he could have missed it all.

In a biography Mr. Green wrote for his induction into the Hall of Fame, he described the moment he woke up in the men’s homeless shelter at Milestone in Portland on Oct. 20, 1976.

“I wasn’t there by mistake,” he wrote. “I was homeless. I was penniless. I was unemployed and unemployable. I was bankrupt in every conceivable way. I was an addict. I was an alcoholic. I was in the throes of a disease so subtly powerful as to be devouring me whole. By any standard of human measurement, I was a hopeless, helpless, down and out drunk. I was 43 days from my twenty-third birthday.”

When Mr. Green got sober, he turned to running. At the time, he smoked and was overweight, said his longtime friend, Diana Jordan of Westbrook.

“His goal was to simply run to the next telephone pole,” Jordan said, choking up. “He had this amazing inner strength.”

On Sept. 17, 1978, Mr. Green completed his first marathon, the inaugural Casco Bay Marathon, in a time of 2:53:57. This qualified him to run in the Boston Marathon, fulfilling a childhood dream. His first marathon victory, the Nike Maine Coast Marathon, came in 1981. He ran it again in 1983 and finished second.

Mr. Green was a two-time winner of the Casco Bay Marathon, in 1983 and 1985. He ran numerous other marathons including the Paul Bunyan Marathon and Sugarloaf Marathon. His personal bests include 5:49.38 for a 50-mile race; 83.1 miles for a 12-hour race and 124.32 miles for a 24-hour race.

Mr. Green ended his running career with at least nine wins in distances 26.2 miles and over, and placed second or third another nine times.

“He was kind of in a league of his own,” said Owen “O.J.” Logue of Southwest Harbor, a longtime friend and running buddy. “No one could run as fast as he could. He was a machine.”

Logue said Mr. Green’s passing is a great loss to Maine’s running community.

“Rock was one of the most humble and endearing people I’ve ever met,” Logue said. “He had such a joy for life. He loved the racing community. He was truly one of our running brothers. We all connected with him.”

Mr. Green grew up on Bailey Island. He lived in Westbrook and worked as a newspaper carrier for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram for about 15 years. Early on, he delivered newspapers in the Buxton/Hollis area and more recently, he delivered in Scarborough. He also served three years as a field service representative and filled in delivering newspapers when needed.

Jordan said Wednesday that Mr. Green was dedicated to serving the needs of both customers and carriers.

“He made sure every carrier had everything they needed to get out there and do a good job,” Jordan said. “He cared so much about the customers.”

Mr. Green was a peer support worker for Amistad Inc. from about 2007 to 2012. Jordan said he provided support in the emergency room at Maine Medical Center.

He was an active member of Portland’s recovery community and proud of his sobriety. At the time of his death, he had been sober for 42 years.

“His sobriety meant everything to him,” Jordan said. “His sobriety allowed him to live the life he has lived.”

At Mr. Green’s induction into the Maine Running Hall of Fame, he expressed gratitude for being part of Alcoholics Anonymous.

“Without that fact, I wouldn’t be here talking to you and certainly wouldn’t be receiving this honor,” he said. “I’m incredibly blessed.”

A celebration of his life will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. June 9 at St. Pius Church, 492 Ocean Ave. in Portland. Jordan said family and friends are welcome to bring a cold dish to share.

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