On an average day, a few students go on a morning run through the campus fairly unnoticed. On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 24, however, the stampede of runners in the Wild Bill Fun Run are sure to attract some attention.
In 2001 the Farmhouse 5K was founded as a way to honor the already-esteemed career of coach Bill Lundberg. In 2014, after a three-year hiatus, the race was resurrected and renamed the “Wild Bill Fun Run”.
With a route that begins at Hayden Park, runners will find their way around the track, up Alumni Walk, past three statues, and in front of the student union before crossing the finish line near the Sage Center for the Arts.
“We advertise it as a run through campus, and we really mean that,” Lundberg said. “Since it is over homecoming weekend we have alumni run the race, so we wanted to be sure that the route allows them to experience parts of campus that may look different from when they were here.”
Lundberg, known by many as “Wild Bill,” spent his college years running first at Jackson Community College before accepting a scholarship to run at the University of Kansas.
Lundberg’s competitive running career included competing in the Olympic Trials for the steeplechase, setting a national record in the two-mile, and being named an All-American. It is, however, his career after running that leaves the most indelible mark.
After Kansas, Lundberg returned to Jackson Community College where he enjoyed tremendous success as the youngest collegiate track coach in the nation. For four years of Lundberg’s life, he served as the graduate assistant coach at University of Michigan, and as the head assistant coach at Eastern Michigan.
In 1985, Lundberg accepted a job at Hillsdale College as the head coach for both track and cross-country, and although he no longer serves as head coach, he remains one of the most recognized figures on campus.
“Coach Lundberg is one of the greatest men on this campus,” sophomore Jacob Weaver said. “It’s about so much more than what he had done on the field too. It’s mostly his character. He just exemplifies everything Hillsdale stands for.”
Indicative of his nickname, Lundberg takes on everyday with a type of fire about him, and it shows in every interaction he has with those around him.
“A lot of freshmen will ask me about the name Wild Bill,” Lundberg said. “It just comes from my love for the Lord and for people. I really believe you should be passionate about everything you do, and that’s how I try to live my life.”
It is this passionate attitude that has garnered Lundberg respect from students and co-workers alike.
“Coach is always available to assist in anything that will inspire and get the student body fired up,” Director of Student Activities Anthony Manno said. “Never will you see him complaining, because he is just too busy serving people.”
Now the Director of the Wellness Initiative and Hayden Park, Lundberg has committed himself to making the everyday life of students both healthier and more exciting.
“Being taught how to live a healthy life is an important part of a liberal arts education,” Lundberg said. “That’s part of the reason we work so hard to make sure that an active lifestyle is both easy and fun here at Hillsdale.”
Lundberg certainly does work hard to achieve this goal, and the college has benefited greatly.
“Wild Bill is a high energy man of Christ that bleeds Charger Blue. He loves this college and what it stands for,” Director of Recreational Sports Brad Kocher said. “He has been instrumental in the growth of wellness on campus and the growth of Hayden Park. Somewhere on campus everyday you can hear him chanting ‘charge up!’”
It is this kind of commitment and attitude that makes the Fun Run live up to it’s name, attracting attention throughout campus.
“No matter your ability, it’s no harm, no foul to take part,” Dave Peters, who participated last year said. “It’s fun and it’s free, and you get to spend time with Wild Bill, so there is no reason not to do it.”