STAN COTTRELL ran from New York to San Francisco in 48 days and set a new Guinness Book of Records.
He ran across Europe in 80 days.
He ran 2,152 miles in 53 days across the ancient, unknowable, forbidden land of China where foreigners had never been permitted.
He has run across 40 different countries and has accumulated more than 250,000 miles of running in his 63-year career. That's more than 10 times around the earth.
Yet Stan Cottrell believes the source of his power is more than mere physical. He is convinced that it is a source we all can tap if we know how. We can all achieve this same kind of efficiency, the same superior use of our physical, mental and spiritual resources. Not just in athletics but in all areas of our lives. And he believes it all starts with the importance of the dreams we have for ourselves and for those around us. If we are to do great things he has said, we must dream great hearted dreams.
Stan has captivated people throughout the world with his humor, his unusual perspective of human nature and his down to earth, sometimes unconventional ideas about human achievement. A son of a rural Kentucky farmer, he started his climb from the very bottom. Through it all, he has touched the lives of more than 1 billion people.
Stan lives and embodies the process of achievement. When he speaks, we feel he has been where we have been... has felt what we feel and has had the same fears, insecurities and doubts we all have known. Audiences have been astonished at his unique ability to help us find ways of turning our dreams into reality.
Stan Cottrell is a life changing event before all he meets, from the well-known to the unknown, is about matters all hearts carry... and it's also about life...
about courage... about pain and victorious living.
Stan Cottrell has been honored by dignitaries and heads of state throughout the world. His deeds have brought nations together in friendship—through the simplicity of those playful times we knew as children called recess.
Combining the common sense of backwoods Kentucky, the simple faith and common threads of truth of godly people around the world, his own compelling generosity of spirit, Stan Cottrell makes us want to be better, larger, more whole and complete than we are.
He touches and changes our lives. Being in his presence is an adventure rare in our time. There is a man running this way. He carries a message of great importance. Compelling and thought provoking, relevant to people of every culture as well as this generation which is crying for truth, light, and hope.
Milestones along the way of Stan’s journey:
“I read your book last night,” he said. “I couldn’t put it down. It reminded me of themes from Coal Miner’s Daughter, Chariots of Fire, Kramer vs. Kramer, and Rocky. As you know, all these won Academy Awards.”
Stan Cottrell was in a semi-state of shock as he listened. This was the famous Mr. Irving, 77-year- old entertainment attorney for Burt Reynolds and hundreds of other Hollywood A-list actors. I had left his office less than 12 hours before.
“Your story is compelling.” He paused and added, “If you would be willing to talk about this in detail, I can guarantee you a movie contract with a major studio and the film will be a finalist for an Oscar. People want to know the humanity of a person.” Enthusiastically, Stan agreed. “Bring your attorney and let’s meet at my office on Tuesday 10 a.m. I’ll have a contract ready for your signature.”
That conversation took place on Saturday morning. The next day, Mr. Irving died of a massive heart attack. That happened 33 years ago. Not knowing anyone else, Stan didn’t attempt to land a movie contract after that. Perhaps, providentially, the story wasn’t ready to be told yet.
Stan spent years pondering what captivated that man who had heard every story and encountered every wannabe actors, producers, and directors. What follows are some patched glimpses of what he believed he was responding to.
No Mountain Too High contrasted with Coal Miner’s Daughter
NMTH begins in the poorest county in Kentucky, and united by the “code of the hill.” The opening setting is rural Kentucky. People remained clannish, religious, and moonshine was everywhere. The main source of income was the annual tobacco crop.
Stan Cottrell, oldest of six children. Regularly received curses by his dad and the words, “You’re worthless. You’ll never amount of anything. He regularly received beatings from his dad with a razor strop—the last time was on the eve of his graduation from high school.
By the time Stan was five years old, his father made him run every morning to the pasture to fetch the cows for milking. If he misses the school bus, a mile away, he had run more than 5 miles to school. He did that many, many times. Running would become a buffer to deal with all the pain and harshness coming from his father.
When he was 7, he chased a rabbit for 5 hours and caught it. At age 12, he entered the 100-mile dash at the county fair— barefooted, and a pair of overall britches rolled up to his knees. People laughed at the way he looked, but Stan ran away, won first place, and received a blue ribbon. That feat became one of the most positive and significant markers of his life. This was a significant marker. Negative voices began to be drowned out as Stan began to run virtually everywhere.
During those years, the Cottrell family living in a state of fear from the Dad’s outburst of rage. Some nights, Stan hid out and slept gullies from fear of being killed by him.
Stan was involved in several shootouts and was exposed to a tragic world of violence and death perpetrated by his father. When Stan was 15, the county sheriff approached Stan and wanted him to run down a moonshiner they had been trying to catch. Stan passed on the civic opportunity when the sheriff couldn’t give a good answer to what was to be done when the culprit was caught. Over the next 50 years, the sheriff shunned Stan because of this.
In 1961, Stan received a one-semester, partial, probationary scholarship worth 60 dollars to run on Western Kentucky State College inaugural cross-country team. Stan took the letter to show Mr. Macred, the high school principal. “Get these notions out of your head! You’re too dumb to go to college. Marry the fuzzy-headed girl, I see you foolin’ around town with, join the army, and come home and live on your Daddy’s farm. Let’s face it, you’re dumber than a poop-house rat. Stan referred to that as his “career counseling.” He stayed in college.
A month before graduation, Stan’s dad struck him with the butt of the shotgun. (As a result, he lost his jaw teeth and suffered a concussion.) Then his father picked him up by the heels and threw him out the front door. Dazed, hurting, bloody and with blurred vision, Stan declared, “Lord, there’s got to be more than this for me.”
Stan’s one ally and source of support was his mother. “God has given you a way to get out of here. You don’t have to live your life like this. Don’t forget the Good Lord. He is protecting you.,” she told him many times. “You are Special and have a special destiny”. Mom had the gift of encouragement.
The day Stan left for college, his Mom cried because the only pair of britches he had was a pair of “Sunday-go-meeting” trousers which the crotch had been ripped out. She sewed them up with red thread. Stan’s Dad came to him and said, “Here’s $6.50. That’s the best I can do, and I want this back when you are able.” Many people said, “He won’t last longer than 1 semester he will probably flunk out.” Stan stayed in college. He held down 4 part time jobs and graduated 5 years later.
Later, the impact of her prayers bore fruit, as he remembered how she began each morning prayer: “Lord, I’m reporting for duty.” In Stan’s 1984 movie, China Run. Stan broke down and cried to God, “Even being here in China, I’m still trying to prove something to Dad.”
No Mountain Too High contrasted with Kramer vs. Kramer
Stan didn’t marry this high school sweetheart. Dad’s violence scared her away from any consideration of taking the Cottrell name in marriage.
During In the winter of 1967, while being a chaperone at a school dance, Stan met beautiful Charlene. She was the kind of girl men stared at. Four months later, they married. She became pregnant and in January of 1968, she gave birth to a girl, Michelle. Thirteen months later, little Stan, arrived.
By then, Stan a teacher, coach, husband, and father. Unable to support a family of four on a teacher’s salary. He became a successful pharmaceutical representative and salesman.
Many of the Doctors he called on were impressed with his desire to learn and his natural aptitude for medicine. With their unique influence and strong endorsements, Stan received a provisional acceptance into medical school subject to getting 2 physic courses on his transcript.
One night, Stan came home from evening classes to be greeted by a baby sitter with a big, brown, folder which contained a note and divorce papers. Charlene had met a wealthy man from California and left everything behind. She had taken all our savings and left him with thousands of dollars in credit card debt.
He was later told that Charlene planned to take the children from the sitter. Stan called his mother. During the conversation, Stan’s father grabbed the phone. “Bring those children up here. People may come here to take the children, but they will never leave.” (that is an example of the code of the hills).
No Mountain Too High themes familiar to Rocky
Stan has said, “I came from the backside of a place called nowhere. It was and still is the poorest county in the U.S. When people spoke of possibilities, they didn’t have me in mind.”
While a child, Stan’s father d kept the boy’s hair clipped short and he was made fun of by classmates. His mother made his shirts from feed sacks, obtained from the local seed and feed store. His dad was 6’4” tall. His dad was convinced he was “wormy” and that was what was stunting his growth. During childhood, Stan’s father made him take worm pills each month along with the 49 fox hounds.
At age 12, after he won first place, someone said to him, “I you keep this running up, you might even become a champion.” That day, in 1955, Stan discovered his sweet spot—the one thing he could excel in doing.
From then on, running became as a golden thread, weaving its way through every aspect of his life. Stan knew he could run long distances and stay at it for hours. That became his buffer against the torrent of beatings, negative voices and overcoming the odds which weighed against him.
One summer night, in 1960, a group of Stan’s peers bet him five dollars that he couldn’t run from Horse Cave to Munfordville—approximately ten miles. He couldn’t stop or rest and had to run every step of the way. He agreed to the challenge. Carloads followed behind him, horns blowing, along with cheers and jeers. He ran the distance in a little less than an hour. (In 2013, a historical marker was placed in Munfordville and that landmark run was highlighted.)
Comparing his pursuits to mountains, the story shows how Stan struggled to the summit to becoming whole and complete. No Mountain Too High can positively motivate those who watch or read to feel better about themselves, boost self-confidence, and enable them to overcome impossible odds.
Here are some highlights of Stan Cottrell’s life and career.
· He has run across 40 countries as a Global Friendship Ambassador.
· He has two published books, and two full non-fiction films depicting his historic runs across the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam.
· He has received more than 400 awards, proclamations, and resolutions for promoting friendship around the world. Most recently appointed the prestigious position as the honorary chairman of the World Chamber Of Commerce.
· Has been received in the palaces of the world and the White House.
· He was inducted into the Healthy American Leaders Association, which some refer to as “the Oscar of Fitness.
· Media experts have estimated the impact of Stan’s running has reached more than 1 billion people around the world.
· In 1964, Stan was the first southerner to run the Boston Marathon.
· In 1977, Stan missed a plane by ten minutes. The plane crashed; all aboard were killed.
· In 1992, Stan ran 1,492 miles in as an official sports ambassador for the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas.
· In 1980, Stan’s dad introduced a friend to Stan. “I want you to meet my Son, the one I have been telling you about. The one I am so proud of.” This was the first time Stan’s Dad acknowledged him on these two fronts. Ten days later Stanley Cottrell Sr. died.
· In 2008, Stan’s only son died of a heart attack.
· In 2009, Stan was attacked by some “friends” with internet slander.
· In 2013, Stan was named as the Official Global Ambassador to The Orphans of Africa via Global Views under the umbrella of The United Nations.
· In 2915, a Historical Marker was erected in Munfordville, KY honoring Stan, his international Friendship Runs, and extensive contributions to the community and world.
· In 2016, shortly before his mother died, she asked, “Did you win the race you ran today?” When he affirmed that he had, she smiled. "I knew you would. I am so proud of you. You were born with a veil.” The next morning, her last words were, “Lord, I'm reporting for duty." She was with Stan when he took his first breath, and he was with her when she took her last.
· In 2018, Stan is being honored by being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
· But he almost didn't reach this point. 40 years after the plane crash, at the end of 2017, a series of miracles converged to save Stan's life from a "widow-maker" heart attack. Eleven months later he ran Philadelphia to Pittsburg… 40 miles per day. He even ran the last 3 miles in the fastest time he had ever run before. It was a run to promote a company who had pioneered a non-invasive glucose detection device. His father-in-law was a diabetic. The run was a big success and at the end Ms. USA was there to greet him with a check for $100,000 which was donated to the American Diabetic Association.
Park Seh-Jik, President of the Seoul Olympic Committee, later President of South Korea:
“We at the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee still hold fond memories of your run last September from Pusan to Seoul…. At that time, hundreds and thousands of our people received encouragement from the sincerity of your efforts; and we are hopeful that you will return to Korea this fall to run a different route, once again promoting friendship, not only between the U.S. and Korea, but among all nations.” (June 30, 1987)
U.S. Ambassador Lamb, Ambassador to Korea:
"I'm just astounded. This is just marvelous what you do."
George H. W. Bush, U.S.A. President:
“Your effort is an historic one that will bring cheer and memories to the people of both countries.”
(China and the United States -- March 22nd, 1982)
One Chinese Dignitary asked:
"How does it make you feel to know that 800 million Chinese speak your name today, and your name will be written in our history books forever?"
Dan Quayle, Vice President of the United States,
re: Stan's historic Friendship Run, the "Freedom Run" the day the Berlin Wall fell:
“Your Friendship run from Berlin to Moscow will be a powerful symbol of the breaching of the walls that have too long divided Europe. I extend my best wishes through you to all the people East Europe and the Soviet Union.” (June 21, 1990)
Newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Poland (Berlin-to-Moscow run 1990).
Witnessing 150,000 at the Brandenburg Gate to see the run off, with Stan Cottrell carrying 30,000 letters from U.S. school children to distribute along the way, the Ambassador said:
"You run. What I have witnessed and what you do is having more impact than a thousand state banquets."
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives:
“It is certainly an exciting and historic event. Indeed, it will go far in promoting the growing spirit of friendship between the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union.”
Mal Whitfield, Diplomat to Africa, U.S. Department of State, 5 Olympic Champion Medals, 35 sports Hall of Fame honors, wrote to thousands of fellow Olympic medal winners about Stan and his running:
“For more than seven decades I have seen a lot of ideas come and go; this is unlike anything before. The inventive and resourcefulness of the Friendship Run is an intellectual property which makes everyone a winner.” He referred to Stan as an “icon of sports diplomats.”
Another time Mel spoke of Stan's Sports in Diplomacy saying: "What Stan does with his friendship runs is an initiative that transcends any sporting endeavor I have ever witnessed. He is truly a sports diplomat in the purest sense."
Josh Culbreath, Olympic medalist, two-time World Record Holder, first great Black intermediate hurdler, 5 Track and Field Halls of Fame, celebrated international Track and Field Coach, accompanied Cottrell for 400 miles of the Berlin-to-Warsaw Freedom Run in 1990:
"To date, I have never witnessed such a powerful impact on a nation as the event Stan calls a 'Friendship Run' . . . . "
"Day after day, I drove a van behind Stan as he ran 50 miles over and over again. I never knew a human could do this. I was witness to a dimension I never knew was possible."
Speaking of Stan Cottrell later, Culbreath said:
"I have never experienced anything as powerful in my sports career as what Stan does. In today’s world, we go to an event and security measures are rigid. A wall exists between the spectator and participant. Stan’s world is just the opposite… Stan welcomes all to run. The people shake his hand, they get their picture made, and for their moment in time…the event brings significance and their world becomes significant… He brings a message of hope… people seem to identify with him as he brings his message of friendship…
I was witness to sports in a whole new way. What Stan does is “Sports Diplomacy” -- not the kind our politicians bring to the table. This is about people to people communications, and that is contagious. Everyone he meets is inspired to want to be better… He is an igniter!... I witnessed first-hand the uniqueness of what Stan does. The world is a better place because of what he does. He is making a difference."
The Slavi Program 2002 (generally anti-Christian Bulgarian TV broadcast reaching across Europe) – upon finish of the first Bulgarian run, one-hour TV interview of Stan Cottrell. Speaking of the chair in which Stan was sitting, Slavi said: "Some of the most famous and influential people in the world have sat where you are sitting, some of the world leaders, diplomats…. I sit in honor of you. You are so far beyond anyone who has sat in this chair before." (Show had three reruns, the only program for which they've ever done a rerun.) Eleven years later, in 2013, Slavi sought Stan to be on the program again.
Judith C. Young, Ph.D., Executive Director of the National Association for Sport & Physical Education:
“Through your work at the Friendship Sports Association, you are empowering millions of people around the world to lead physically active and healthy lives.” (September 27, 1993)
George W. Bush, President of the United States:
“I appreciate your commitment to excellence. Your efforts reflect the spirit of America and help inspire new generations.” (October 20, 2006)