Dan Bulkley dies at 101; Masters Hall of Famer made mark in hurdles — and love of many sports

Dan Bulkley, near reaching the finish line of life, wore the colors of Southern Oregon University, where he coached.Dan Bulkley, near finish line of life, was all Southern Oregon University, where he coached. Ashland Daily Tidings photo

Dan Bulkley died a winner. Even better, he was a player — someone who competed in track (and other sports) just for the joy of it. As his local Oregon paper reported Monday: “Bulkley, a famous masters athlete and pioneer of [Southern Oregon University’s] physical education programs and Mt. Ashland Ski Area, died Sunday evening. The Phoenix resident was 101 and, said his daughter, Dani, of Bend, ‘His philosophy was that the less you do, the less you do — and the more you do, the more you do.’ His secret was to keep moving. He fractured his back a year ago, and he thought ‘Why am I here if I can’t do the things I love to do?’ He was basically done.”

I noted how he ran 100 meters at age 100, and I’ve hailed his feats over the years — back to when he was inducted in the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 1999.

His last major meet was the 2015 Huntsman World Masters Games in Utah.

On mastershistory.org, I found how National Masters News showed its awe.

In 1998, covering masters nationals, NMN said Dan started with an M80 pentathlon victory and added, in three remaining days, four more golds, plus a WR (62.68) in the 300 hurdles and an AR (17.25) in the 80-meter hurdles.

In 2005, NMN editor Al Sheahen wrote about Dan at the sixth World Masters Games in Edmonton, Alberta: “Dan Bulkley, 88, Phoenix, Ore., was amazing. On Monday afternoon, he ran the 2000m steeplechase. The next morning, he won a singles match in badminton, then drove to the track in time to run the 300mH final. Then he took off to get ready for a badminton doubles match that afternoon.”

Suzy Hess Wojcik, former NMN publisher, wrote me: “We knew him as a wonderful and sweet athlete that just loved to compete and did so for a very long time. He always had a smile on his face.”

Pete Taylor, our legendary announcer, recalled Dan as “a wonderful guy who liked to go over barriers. That would include the high jump, straight hurdles, long hurdles and steeplechase. He was very popular at our meets. Oh, I am 99 percent sure that the correct pronunciation was Buckley despite the spelling of Bulkley.”

I wrote last year about a fantastic Tim Trower profile of Dan at 100:

He plans to run [100] again this Saturday, when a birthday party of some 200 guests — family and friends are another thing Bulkley has collected over these many years — commences at RoxyAnn Winery.”

Also notable: “The [alternating lead leg] hurdle technique he adopted years earlier in college boded well. For 15 years and through three age groups, 70 to 84, he was unbeaten in the intermediates.” (Using “intermediates” brands the writer as a track savvy guy.)

Also loved hearing Dan’s motto: “You don’t slow down because you’re getting old. You get old because you slow down.” Dan’s last official meet was a year ago in Bend, running the 50 and 100, the paper says.

He’s already a Masters Hall of Famer. Legend is his legacy.

Dan’s records have been surpassed. His legacy as a gamer never will.

Godspeed on Heaven’s track, Dan. Say hi to fellow hurdler Al and all our dear departed superstars.

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About the Author

Ken Stone
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and webmaster since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials. He worked for 10 newspapers and now reports for Times of San Diego. Write him at TrackCEO@aol.com or kens@timesofandiego.com. Story tips always welcome!

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