History lesson, kids. Before there was Instagram, Snapchat or Tik Tok, there was DyeStat. Before there was RunnerSpace, LetsRun or MileSplit there was DyeStat. John Dye launched the internet age for track and field in the mid-1990s as he was trying to track how his high school kids, Derek and Natalie, fared against other athletes in Maryland, the East and nationally. The Dyestat 100 was launched.
Soon after, the legendary message boards we created and an on-line community, second to none, was born. Some of those early message board participants are still connected today.
The original DyeStat was far more than rankings and hot takes, however. It was off the track pictures, highlights, features and more. “Donna on the Side” became as much of a celebrity as Johnny Dyestat himself. Donna Dye was as interested in the human side of the sport as John was in the statistical. The pairing was as perfect as track and field itself.
I met John in the late 1990s as a young Nike marketing guy. I recognized the power of authentic, creative storytelling was far more effective than any advertising campaign could ever be. My world-take-over partner Johnny “Wildhorse” Truax and I invited DyeStat to be our “partner” in promoting our new creation, the Nike Border XC (which, of course, would become the more appropriately named BorderClash a year later). There is dyestat.com placed right alongside the event website on the poster.
Suddenly people from across the country wanted to start their own BorderClashes. Before we knew it, cross country “border wars” were cropping up faster than one could keep track. Cross country was going mainstream. All thanks to DyeStat.
The BorderClash made cross country runners heroes in their schools and communities and inspired us to create Nike Cross Nationals to bring that same heroic feeling to harriers across the nation. And once again, DyeStat was at the center of it all. Without DyeStat, I’m not sure there would be an NXN.
To me DyeStat was far more than a website. John and Donna became part of our family. Between 1999 and 2005, I ate more meals with John and Donna than anyone in my extended family. Part of going to any big cross country or track meet meant hanging with the Dyes and that meant sports bars, sports talk and the always interesting update on the kids. The only thing that got John more excited than a Ritz/Webb/Hall debate was talking about Derek and Natalie. John was as much of an inspiration to me personally as he was professionally.
John Dye launched track & field and cross country into the internet age. Not just high school T&F and XC, all of track & field and cross country. He was literally and figuratively a unanimous first ballot hall of famer, in our sport and in life.
I’ll miss you, Johnny Dyestat. Your legacy will live on forever.