GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The University of North Dakota Athletics Department would like to convey its condolences to the family and friends of UND track & field legend Arjan Gelling, who passed away on June 7 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, after a courageous battle with prostate cancer. He was 70-years old.
Born in Holland and hailing from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Gelling starred at UND from 1967-70 and was a national champion and seven-time All-American in cross country and track and field. Four of those honors came on the track, where he won the NCAA Division II championship in the six-mile run in 1969. He was also the national runner-up in the three-mile that same year. One year earlier, Gelling finished second in the 10,000-meters and fifth in the 5,000-meters.
Gelling also won a national cross country championship in 1967 and earned DII All-America honors in each of the following two years with a fourth-place finish in 1968 and a third-place showing in 1969. He also broke the North Central Conference record in the two-mile run in three consecutive seasons and was included in a 1967 Sports Illustrated feature on the 1967 NCAA DII Cross Country Championships.
Gelling was inducted into the UND Athletics Letterwinners Association Hall of Fame in 1980.
“I was really sad to hear of Arjan's passing,” said current UND track and field coach Kevin Galbraith. “I was glad to meet him and chat with him at our reunion (in 2012). To win a national championship is a special thing. He was a unique individual and truly appreciated his time at UND. He really felt connected to the University and that showed. He was a great ambassador for not just our University, but for what someone can accomplish in their life. He lived it well.”
Gelling remains the school record-holder in the indoor 2-mile (9:07.00), outdoor 2-mile (9:08.70), outdoor 3-mile (13:59.00), outdoor 6-mile (29:21.90), and outdoor 10-mile (52:06.80).
His since-broken school records in the 10,000-meters (1968) and the indoor mile (1970) stood for 43 and 27 years, respectively.
In 2012, Gelling returned to Grand Forks and was one of several alumni who competed in the UND Ron Pynn Invitational during Homecoming weekend.
In 2016, while enduring his battle with cancer, Gelling wrote: “When things start getting really difficult in the not-too-distance future, I know I will be able to receive a lot of strength to continue the battle knowing that you are all in my corner. In the meantime, we carry on – after all, distance runners are known for their endurance – and when things do become more difficult, we'll just shorten our stride a bit, tuck the chin a bit tighter into the chest, and face those headwinds with more determination and possibly a small dose of Dutch stubbornness throw in for good measure. Love you lots, Arjan.”