Saturday, August 15, 2015

V 5 N. 77 Jazy, Clarke, and Keino

You will be able to find a lot of enrichment points with this one, George. Steve caught some huge mistakes, a real game changer.   


Our usual focus is on track in the good old US of A, but what transpired in Europe this summer bears a mention.
Consider this. On January 1, 1965 the world record holder at 5000 meters was Vladimir Kuts of the Soviet Union. He set the record 13:35.0 in 1957. For seven years it remained unbroken.
Just over six months later, July 6 to be exact, Kuts' record stood as the 16th fastest time ever run. Ron Clarke had broken it seven times, Kip Keino and Michel Jazy had beaten it three times and Mike Wiggs and Gaston Roelants had also bettered it. Has a record held so long ever been obliterated by so many so quickly?
Michel Jazy had planned to end his season early and take the family on vacation. His stunning success earlier in June has prompted him to scrap those plans and meet the touring Clarke and the surprising Keino at the end of the month. That must have been a tough conversation at home. “Kids, you know the two weeks at the beach that Daddy told you we were going to have? Well, something's come up.”
Here is why Michel and family were not sifting sand by the seashore in late June. On June 2 he establishes the European record with a 3:55.5 mile, less than half a second off Peter Snell's world record. Four days later, after a relaxed 1500 the previous day, he adds the European record at 5000 with a 13:34.8. He doesn't wait long before going after Snell's mile record on July 9 when he runs 3:53.6 to drop the record by a second and a half.
Michel is not one to rest on his laurels. Two days later he lowers his European record at 5000 to 13:29.0. He races a couple low key 2000's the next two days then goes six days without competing before running a lackluster, for him, 3:40.9 1500. Two days later we come to the beginning of our story, June 23, when he toes the starting line for a two mile against Clarke.
But first let's catch up with how Clarke has been spending the first few days of his European tour. On June 14, in Turku, Finland, he betters his own 10,000 meter WR by 1.6 seconds in 28:14.0. Two days later he runs 13:40.8 for 5000. After four days without racing, he is now standing next to Jazy at the start of the two mile race in Melun, France.
Jazy held the WR at this distance, 8:29.0, until Bob Schul replaced him last year with an 8:26.4. Now he wants it back. This is not Clarke's best distance, but he has been anxious to race Jazy and if it is at two miles, so be it.
They have agreed to alternate laps and so they do. The laps go off in 61.5, 2:04.0 (62.5), 3:07.8 (63.8), 4:11.4 (63.6), 5:15.5 (64.1 ). On the sixth lap Jazy runs the slowest lap of the race, 64.3 (5:19.8) but Clarke begins to drop back. Now it is Jazy against the clock. The seventh lap goes off in 61.5 (7:21.3) and Schul's record is in the bag. But wait, it is two for one day, for Jazy passes 3000 meters in 7:49.0 to clip two tenths off the world record he already owns. Clarke is a full two seconds back at 7:51.0. Jazy's last lap is 61.3, giving him the new world record of 8:22.6. Clarke's 8;24.8 is the second fastest time ever run. Jazy has lowered his PR by 7.0 seconds, Clarke's has dropped 7.2 seconds.
Both are gracious. Jazy says, “He knew I was faster over this distance, but he went as fast as he could to help me lower the records. Without him to pace me on the fifth and sixth laps, I might not have done it.” Clarke, always the gentleman, says, “Two miles is a little short for me and I expected to be defeated, but I am happy with my time.”
They will meet again over 5000 meters in a week but no one is resting in preparation for that match. Two days later, June 25th, Jazy runs a 3:39.9 1500 split on the French 4 x 1500 team that clips 9.0 seconds off East Germany's world record. Three world records in as many days looks good on a resume. On the 27th he runs a relaxed 8:04.2 3000.
Clarke is back in Finland. On the 25th in Kauhava he runs the third fastest 5000 ever, 13:33.0. The following day in Saarijearvi he clocks 8:00.4 in placing second, five seconds behind his New Zealand buddy, John Davies. Given the great Aussie's penchant for racing, the next three days without competition must have seemed like an eternity.
June 30 finds us in Helsinki for the World Games 5000, a distance more to Clarke's liking. This time there will be more competition than Jazy. Olympic champion Bob Schul, fresh from his American three mile record is warming up. Countryman and fellow Olympic champion Billy Mills who just set the WR for six miles is here also. Olympic finalist at this distance, Kip Keino, is just coming out of the warm up area. The ever tough Bill Baillie of New Zealand is walking slowly towards the starting line. Those guys over there are two of the three fastest 3M-5000 men in British history, Bruce Tulloh and Mike Wiggs. A quick run down gives us world record holders at one mile, 3000 meters, two miles, three miles, 5000 meters, six miles and 10,000 meters and a couple Olympic champions. Clarke's record of 13:25.8 is in danger.
As expected, Clarke takes the lead. The first kilometer goes off in 2:41.0. At 1500 meters surprisingly Schul, still bothered by the hard surface of the Balboa Stadium track last week, lets go. Two thousand meters is reached in 5:21.4. At 3000, reached in 8:05.4, Mills starts to fall back. He is running faster than he ever has at this distance but it is not enough. At 4000 meters a vision of the immediate future is coming into view. Jazy is sitting on Clarke, ready to pounce and there is little Clarke can do about it. At 4500, the Frenchman makes his move but he is not alone. Keino goes with him. Clarke stays near through three miles but now it is obvious that the race is between

the Frenchman and the surprising Kenyan. Jazy holds a four yard margin at the tape to edge Keino 13:27.6 to 13:28.2. Clarke is third in 13:29.4. His only solace is that his record is still intact. Wiggs hangs tough to finish fourth in 13:33.0. He is now fourth on the all time list. Fifth and sixth go to Scandinavians Thor Helland of Norway and Bengt Nadje of Sweden in 13:37.4 and 13:37.8. Seventh is Bill Baillie in 13:41.8, four tenths ahead of Mills who finishes faster than anyone else from the three mile mark to record a personal best by 15.2 seconds. Germany's Jurgen Hasse holds off Schul by two tenths in 13:49.6.
Le 30 juin 1965, aux Jeux Mondiaux à Helsinki en Finlande, Michel Jazy remportait le 5000 m en 13:27.6 (record d'Europe) devant Kipchoge Keino (KEN) 13:28.2 et Ron Clarke (AUS) 13:29.4
Two days later Keino is showing the effects of this race, placing seventh in a 1500 in 3:46.4. No matter, here he is the next day, June 2, in Turku, lining up against Clarke once again at 5000 meters. Given the circumstances – Clarke is tired, Keino is sick and the track is waterlogged – not much is expected. Surprisingly, Clarke lets Keino lead. Sounds like the perfect conditions for a tactical race. Tactical, schmatical, Keino is having none of that. He leads through kilometer splits of 2:38.0, 5:22.4 and 8:06.4 with Clarke playing the unlikely role of predator. The gallant Aussie has seen recent vivid proof that he cannot outkick Keino on the last lap so he makes his move at 3700 meters, but a kilometer later the Kenyan flies by. He covers his last kilometer in 2:35.2 and his last 800 in 1:58.2, speed that Clarke cannot match. Keino hits the tape in 13:26.2, just missing Clarke's record but displacing Jazy as number two on the all time list. Clarke is timed in 13:29.0.
In an unexpected turn of events neither Clarke nor Keino compete in the next three days. Now they are in Stockholm for another 5000 that will be the oddest of their match ups. They have agreed to alternate the lead but Clarke doesn't step up when his turn comes. Keino is flying and Clarke can't muster the umph to get by. With Keino driving the bus, the kilos go by in 2:37.5, 5:19.0 and 8:06.4. Keino's time at 4000 is 10:50 .0, only 1.2 seconds off Clarke's record pace. This time Clarke waits to make his move until 500 remain. His attack is easily repulsed and Keino holds a five meter lead going into the last lap with the record is in sight.
The crowd is with him as he blazes down the backstretch but with 200 to go the “aahs” turn to “ohs”. At the start of the final curve Keino begins to trot as if he has finished the race. By the time he realizes that he has misjudged the finish, Clarke has gone around and there is no hope of catching him. His spirit crushed, his finish is less than vigorous. Clarke comes within six tenths of his own record at 13:26.4 with Keino four seconds back but ahead of Olympic steeplechase champion, Gaston Roelants, who runs 13:34.8.
After the race Clarke says, “This Keino is fantastic. If Jazy had been here he could have changed the lead with Keino. Then, who knows? Could be 13:20.” Keino is disappointed but not discouraged. “I was very strong. I knew all along that I would break the record. At Brazzaville in the African Games, I will break the record.”
Keino returns to Kenya but Clarke still has a couple races left. The next day he wins a 3000 in Oslo in 7:54.6, edging hometown favorite Helland by two tenths. Then he takes two days off before showing up at the British championships in London on July 10 where he will take on the amazing American teenager who broke his six mile world record last month, Gerry Lindgren.
Clarke set the record of 13:00.4 en route to his world record 5000 at Compton last month. He is determined to beat that this day. His first mile is a blistering 4:15.4. Lindgren is right there. The second mile slows a bit to 4:21.0 as he comes through in 8:36.4. Lindgren is right there.

Lindgren is nothing if not courageous for on the tenth lap he tries to go by. The veteran Clarke holds him off and Lindgren is broken. A final 4:16.0 mile brings the three mile record down to a stunning 12:52.4, an eight second improvement. Lindgren finishes gallantly in 13:04.2, and is now third on the all time list behind Clarke and Keino who ran 13:01.8 four days earlier.
Our next half century old update will include results of dual meets with Poland, West Germany and the Soviet Union. Oh, and Ron Clarke is not done with his European tour, in fact he is just getting warmed up. Coming soon to a laptop near you.  

Just looked at the next issue.  It covers the dual meets with Russia, Poland and West Germany but neither Nelson brother was there, so the first hand report is by the Italian guy, RL Quercetani, and his writing is less than inspiring.  Thinking of doing it in a much more informal style, buncha guys sitting around the table at the Dew Drop Inn discussing the results.  We'll see if I'm in love with that idea when I am sober.   Roy

1 comment:

David F. Webb said...

Was there ever a greater six weeks of distance running? I couldn't believe that these guys could run world-class times virtually day after day. Are there any other comparable periods?

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