Melvin H. Williams
Mel Williams has left his mark on endurance athletics as a researcher, author of 10 books, international lecturer and a distance runner himself. Local runners affectionately call him “The Legend” for his knowledge of ways to improve performances, his countless age-group victories and his willingness to help others set personal records.
After arriving at Old Dominion in 1968, Williams founded both the Human Performance Laboratory and the Wellness Institute. Today he is a professor emeritus of exercise science, sport, physical education and recreation.
This fall, at age 67, Williams will compete in his 30th consecutive U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., aiming for his eighth consecutive age-group win. He won his age group at the famed Boston Marathon at ages 51, 60 and 61.
In the mid-1970s, as the running craze was fast building, Williams published one of the first books on the role of nutrition in sports, as well as one of the first on the effects of drugs on athletic performance. In 1974 his research showed that steroids improve sports performance but carry health risks. The International Olympic Committee’s 1985 decision to ban blood doping was based in part on his research.