I've often said that when (OK - if) I grow up, I want to be just like Doug Stern. Doug was a great coach. He loved his work and his athletes loved and respected him. In the years that I knew Doug I learned a lot about swimming, but also a lot about coaching and communicating. And I learned that loving your work and making a living weren't mutually exclusive. I'm not arrogant enough to suggest that I'll ever be as good as Doug was, but it's something for me to aspire to.
But there's one other way in which I can try to follow in Doug's footsteps. For years he was New York Road Runners' Chief Bandit Catcher at the NYC Marathon. He and his staff were in charge of removing (forcibly if necessary) anyone who tried to get near the finish line without an official bib on display. Regardless of why people tried to cheat, he wouldn't stand for it. People sometimes ask why I'm so uptight about those who take shortcuts - whether it's by doping or by literally cutting the course. My answer is that it is disrespectful to those who really do the race. Hard work had its rewards, and people who try to reap those rewards while avoiding the discipline that is required to earn it shouldn't get to share that glory.
So let's call my obsessive monitoring of marathon (and other race) results for cheaters my little personal salute to Doug. May he rest in peace.