Home > The Scene

Joggling inventor dies at 72

Bill Giduz was, by all accounts, a kind, generous and funny person who inspired hundreds of people to take up the sport of juggling while running

Joggler Bill Giduz Photo by: courtesy of Bill Giduz

on May 11, Bill Giduz, credited for inventing the sport of joggling, died at age 72 of complications from Parkinson’s disease. Giduz achieved legendary status within the tight-knit joggling community, with jogglers from around the world expressing their condolences on the Jogglers United Facebook group

The family’s obituary includes some amazing details from Giduz’s life, which he clearly lived to the fullest. The genius of combining juggling with running and naming it “joggling” is but one tiny blip in his long list of achievements, adventures and community-building work. Hilariously, according to the obituary, Giduz used to literally juggle his kids: “His love of juggling carried over to his family. His children remember being his “juggling props,” his son, Luke, said. “He used to juggle us as babies along with two balls,” added his daughter, Jenny.

joggler Bill Giduz
Bill Giduz. Photo: Giduz family via News of Davidson

Giduz invented joggling by accident in 1975, according to a 2015 Huffington Post story on the history of the sport, when he brought his juggling balls to the North Carolina State University track to work on some juggling tricks after a running workout. 

“That day, he started jogging as he juggled, and discovered something amazing: the pace of a three-ball juggling pattern easily matches with a wide range of running cadences,” author Kevin Bell wrote. “In other words, every throw coincides with the natural motion of the arms. Bill realized that the motions complemented one another beautifully, and he called it ‘joggling’ almost immediately.”

Four years later, Giduz, a Columbia journalism grad, became the editor of the International Jugglers’ Association (IJA) newsletter and began writing a column about joggling called Joggler’s Jottings. I discovered some of these columns online when I first began joggling in 2005, and was amazed learn the history of the sport, and that the guy who came up with the idea was still around. It’s like if you were a basketball fan and James Naismith were writing about the NBA. 

In one of the Joggler’s Jottings columns, Giduz included some quotes from the late New York City Marathon race director, Fred Lebow, a joggling fan and a joggler himself:

“Lebow first heard of joggling from Billy Gillen, a Brooklyn resident now well known for his five-ball joggles around Central Park,” Giduz wrote. “However, Lebow only took it seriously after watching Albert Lucas joggle the Los Angeles Marathon last spring.”

“Lebow immediately recognized a combination of beauty and athletic benefit. ‘The normal person can’t believe someone can juggle and run that fast at the same time,’ he said. ‘I figured if Lucas could do a marathon juggling, I should be able to do it standing still.'”

Joggler Bill Giduz
Bill Giduz joggling on campus at Davidson College, NC. Photo: courtesy of the Giduz family, via Joe Salter

“So Lebow set out to learn, and found it surprisingly easy to master the cascade. He began using one-pound Exerballs to build upper body strength. And now that he can juggle standing still, Lebow wants to begin joggling.”

“Bigger than his personal discovery of joggling, however, is his decision to allow Lucas and Gillen to joggle in the upcoming New York Marathon. ‘I see joggling as only positive,’ Lebow said. ‘Normally I might not allow it in a race, because some people might think it interferes with runners. However, these two people are experienced. We’ll play it by ear and see how it develops. We don’t have a joggling division yet, but you never know what can happen.'”

A quote from this column appeared in the New York Times story by Lindsay Crouse in 2015 about the New York City Marathon banning me from joggling the race on a security technicality. 

U.K.-based data scientist and joggler Scott Jenkins recently brought back the Joggler’s Jottings column to complement his database of joggling results that he’s compiled with fellow U.K. joggler Chris Edwin. Jenkins was hoping to get in touch with Giduz to let him know that the Jottings column had been re-joggled and asked me if I had any contact info for him. I found Giduz’s email from the News of Davidson site where he worked, but, unfortunately, he was likely too sick by the time Jenkins tried to reach him. I was really hoping to one day meet Giduz, or at least exchange an email or two, but was very touched that his son Luke took the time to reach out to me on Instagram.

Michal Kapral joggler
Michal Kapral juggling in the Maldives. Photo: courtesy of Michal Kapral

Although I never met him, by all accounts, including this wonderful obituary for the IJA by juggling historian David Cain, Giduz was a kind, generous and funny person. I know for sure that he has not only inspired hundreds of people to take up joggling, but has also brought joy to millions of spectators of the sport, through smiles, laughs, ooohs and aaahs from all the people who’ve watched others joggling since that day Giduz decided to take his juggling balls to track practice almost 50 years ago. Thank you, Bill.

Check out the latest buyer's guide:

Top 10 shoes our testers are loving in June

We tested tons of great shoes this year, but only the very best make the list