LAST WEEKEND a star-studded group gathered to celebrate the 85th birthday of Hall of Fame coach Bob Larsen. Well over 100 strong, the attendees — friends, family, coaching colleagues, athletes guided by Larsen in his 6-decade-plus career — came from as far away as Zürich, Switzerland, to honor a transformative figure in U.S. distance running who also built an all-around track & field powerhouse program in 15 seasons as UCLA men’s coach: back-to-back NCAA titles in 1987 & ’88, 20 NCAA individual titles, world-class Bruins and Bruin alums produced in droves.
Seven Olympic gold medalists and 3 World Record-setters attended Larsen’s birthday bash — a testament to a deep well of love and respect. A full count of Olympians and USA champions on hand at the Southern California home of Bob and partner Martha Watson would be difficult to pull together without a comprehensive guest list.
Regrettably, Meb Keflezighi, the marathoner 2004 Team USA Olympic distance coach Larsen guided to silver in Athens and historic New York and Boston wins in 2009 and ’14, was a late scratch from the guest list for family reasons — a good reason for Bob’s friends to double back some year?
All-world UCLA sprints alum Danny Everett catered the event, exquisite BBQ, copious sides and desserts. In the culinary arts Everett matches his 400 accomplishments.
It was an honor to be invited. What an evening!
Below you’ll find a photo gallery from the event. Most pics by accomplished veteran behind the lens Bill Leung, recipient last summer of the Track And Field Writers of America (TAFWA) Award for Photography. Be sure to view in lightbox mode. Presents best that way. Photo order shuffled randomly.