Monday, June 2, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 43 The Pre Classic 2014 "This Ain't No County Track Meet". John Jacobs U. of Oklahoma coach 1921-1958

                          This Ain't No County Track Meet

John Jacobs, was a revered and wonderful coach for many years at the University of Oklahoma.  He was legendary for his quips to his athletes, and our headline was one of his best.   The Pre Classic was definitely not a county track meet.  Future track  historians will tell us how good it was, but no one who was present in Eugene will forget it.  There were only 26 sub four minute miles run there on Saturday in two races.   A photo finish 43.77 in the 400, an American record 10,000,  a marginally wind aided 9.76 in the 100 meters where 9.80 was third.  The list goes on and on, and I'm sure anyone reading this blog is more than familiar with the results from the meet being televised and internet connections. Was there ever such a meet filled with incredible performances by world class athletes, yet not a single world record being set?     I can only relate some of my personal experiences at the meet.

It was a chance for your two bloggers Roy Mason and myself to get together for the first time in five years and actually see a track meet together.   Another reunion for me was to reconnect with Rick Lower, a fellow grad student at the Human Performance Lab at Ball State where we ran and studied together from 1976 to 1978.   Rick has worked for Nike since 1978 and has headed up many, many projects for that company.  He went to the People's Republic of China in 1981 to open their first factory.  He is now the Footwear Heritage Director at the archives at Nike that is in the process of storing and cataloging literally every product or endorsement, or record that Nike has done from the beginning.  The vaults fill a warehouse.   If you want to see a pair of baseball spikes made specifically for Wade Boggs, they are there.  Bill Bowerman's cobbler tools that he used to make his first experimental shoes are there.  Shoes and projects that never got off the ground are there.  Unfortunately this is not open to the public and even pictures by invited guests are not allowed.   So don't drive up to the gate and ask to get in.   Sorry.   You cannot imagine what this past weekend has been for me.   
Rick Lower, Roy Mason, George Brose
in the stands after the Pre

Rick and I drove from Beaverton in two cars down to Eugene on Friday afternoon, and he got off Interstate 5 before we arrived at Eugene.   We went into the village of Coburg just north of Eugene and parked in an antique store lot.   The store was formerly a Texaco gas station.   Rick got out of his car and came over to mine with a Nike Cortez in his hand.   He told me this is was where the Cortez was germinated in the Spring of 1965.   Kenny Moore describes the happenings in his book.  But this is a  condensed version certainly with a few inaccuracies.  Kenny had been nursing some injuries in his early years at Oregon but came through with two wins at the PAC 8 meet in the Steeplechase and 3 miles, and returned to Eugene elated.   He asked Coach Bowerman about going out on Sunday for a 20 mile run.  Bowerman told him absolutely no way, don't go more than ten miles.  .   Not being one to listen to reason, Moore went up the road from Eugene toward Coburg (ten miles) planning to turn around and head back.  At the Texaco station a bone in  his metatarsals gave way and he couldn't run any further.    He had a dime in his pocket and called for help.   He had been wearing  Tiger Bangkok shoes that had no build up under the arch to support it while running.  He confessed to Bowerman that he had been out running further than Bowerman had prescribed.  Bowerman tore the shoes in half in anger, and said, "These aren't shit shoes, these are double shit shoes!"    Moore did no running for six weeks, then Bowerman handed him a new pair of prototypes from Japan that had more cushioning and supported the mid foot.   The amount of elevation was determined from a pair of street shoes, so that the running shoe elevation would seem natural.  And that ended up being the Cortez.  The Cortez name/design remained with Blue Ribbon Sports after the law suit was settled, and after that the Tiger shoe was re-named the Corsair.  So for a short while, there were two Cortez available in the market in 1972-73 produced by two different companies.   

Here is a picture of Rick with an early  Tiger Cortez in front of the old Texaco Station where Kenny Moore broke down.

2 comments:

walt chadwick said...


Great post!

Rick is a terrific person and a asset to the Archives project.

Thanks for your blog. It is great.

Anonymous said...

Rick was a teammate of mine at the Blue Zoo before he became a Buffalo. He and his family are great people. I loved visiting him up at CU or in the mountains in the summer to go running. It is thrilling to know that he followed his passion and did so well.