Rodney Phillip "Rod" Dixon (born 13 July 1950) is a former New Zealand middle- to long-distance runner. He won the bronze medal in the 1500 metres at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, and in 1983 won the prestigious New York City Marathon.
Along with John Walker and Dick Quax, he was one of a trio of world-class middle distance runners from New Zealand in the 1970s. He was the first of the three to enjoy Olympic success with his bronze medal in 1972, but was then somewhat overshadowed by the other two over the next few years, particularly by his good friend Walker. Nevertheless, he posted impressive 1,500-meter (3:33.9) and mile (3:53.6) times during the 1970s and Track & Field News magazine ranked Dixon first in the world in the 5,000 meters in 1975.
Dixon placed fourth in two of the epic track races of the 1970s. In the 1500 metres at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, he was fourth behind the new world-record holder Filbert Bayi (3:32.2), John Walker, whose time of 3:32.5 also broke the previous world record, and Ben Jipcho (3:33.2) who became the fourth fastest metric-miler in history. Dixon's time of 3:33.9 had only been bettered once prior to the race. In the 5000 metres at the 1976 Montreal Olympics Dixon was beaten by four-time Olympic Champion Lasse Virén, teammate Quax and Klaus-Peter Hildenbrand whose last second dive/fall denied Dixon a second Olympic bronze medal. In this very closely fought race, Dixon lost to Viren by under six metres or 0.74 seconds, to Quax by under three metres or 0.34 seconds and to Hildenbrand by just under a metre or 0.12 seconds. Dixon sprinted less than a metre behind Virén still with 200 metres to go and was about two metres behind the Finnish Olympic champion with 100 metres to go.
Ultimately, however, Rod Dixon was honored for the length and versatility of his career as a top-flight middle- to long-distance runner. He set world-class times in events from 1500 m (3:33.9) to the marathon (2:08:59), won bronze medals in the World Cross Country Championships in 1973 and 1982, and was one of the more successful athletes on the US road racing circuit in the early '80s, including wins at the Falmouth Road Race (1980), Bay to Breakers (1982 & 1983), the Lynchburg, Virginia 10 miler (1981 & 1983), and the Philadelphia Half-Marathon (1980, 1981). His gradual move to longer distances culminated in his 1983 marathon victory in New York City in one of the most dramatic finishes the event has seen, when he came from behind to catch leader Geoff Smith at the 26-mile mark and win by 9 seconds.
Unable to compete due to an injury, Dixon guided a blind runner in the 1985 Bay to Breakers. At the 1985 New York Marathon, Dixon served as the first host for the participatory "Helmet Cam" as he followed the lead pack for a mile during the race.
^See Matti Hannus, "The Montreal Olympic Book" / Montrealin Olympiakirja, published in Finland in 1976; Mauno Saari, "Lasse Viren: The Secrets of Running" / Lasse Viren: Juoksemisen salaisuudet, published in Finland in 1979.