Saturday, October 31, 2015

V 5 N. 97 Russian marathoners not getting invites to NYC and Ollan Cassell Tells All

Oct. 31, 2015

Here's a little tit for tat on marathon doping that appears in today's NY Times.  Seems that the Russian elite marathoners are not getting accepted to compete in the NY Marathon tomorrow.  Past transgressions in the doping world are causing them to look elsewhere.  Nothing similar seems to be happening to the Kenyans however.  Is this some form of payback to Putin for his lining up against the US in Ukraine and Syria?  You can watch this year's NYC Marathon tomorrow live on ESPN2.

Russians not invited to NYC marathon


Please note that the NY Times will allow you to read ten of their articles each month.  If you open this one you will have nine left.  After that you will need to pay a subscription.


Now, because this posting concerns current doping in the sport, lets go back to doping in the good old days which is the period of focus of our little blog.   Olan Cassell has recently published a book about his service as a big time administrator with the AAU, TAC and USATF.   Track and Field News recently posted a review of this book by Mel Watman of Athletics International.  This is a very detailed review and may save you needing to purchase Cassell's book.  There is a lot of detail in second half of the review concerning drug use by US athletes including one of our iconic sprinters.

Inside the Five Ring Circus

Thursday, October 22, 2015

V. 5 N. 96 More about Marianne Dickerson and a running documentary



Leading Rosa Mota  (Portugal) early in the World Championship race.  Mota
would finish 4th that day.


This email came to us from Ken Foreman via Eric Tweit:

ERIC,

I JUST READ THE BLOG ABOUT MARIANNE DICKERSON AND I CHOOSE TO RESPOND. I WAS THE HEAD COACH OF THE WOMEN'S TEAM AT THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AT HELSINKI IN 1983. WE HAD MONTH LONG TRAINING CAMP AT BOSON, IN SWEDEN, WHERE I WORKED WITH THE HEPTATHLETE'S, THE JAVELIN THROWER'S, THE RELAY'S AND THE DISTANCE RUNNERS...ONE OF WHICH WAS MARIANNE.   

IN MY NEW BOOK, ENTITLED "RECOLLECTION'S" I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THE MARATHON AND MARIANNE...I COPIED THE TWO PAGES TO YOU, (SEE BELOW)AND PERHAPS GEORGE WILL WANT TO PUT THEM IN HIS BLOG. ​

KEN

            During our training at Bosön I worked at length with marathon runner Marianne Dickerson. On our last day together, Marianne ran 200s as “finish simulators.”

            When we were finished, she said, “If it comes down to a kick, I am ready.”

            The marathon course in Helsinki was uphill for about two miles before the stadium, then it was twice around the stadium to the finish line. I was standing on the uphill portion of the course where I could see the runners to give our ladies their place and their time. Marianne was running a distant third when she passed me—I waited for Julie Brown and Debbie Eide.
            I was told that Grete Waitz (Norway) was the first runner to enter the stadium and Raisa Smekhnova (Russia) was second—more than three minutes behind Grete. When Marianne entered the stadium, Greta had finished and Raisa had just begun her second lap ... then she began to falter. The finish between second and third would turn out to be one of the most “gut-wrenching” finishes in the history of World Championships track and field meets. As Raisa continued to struggle, Marianne put on a furious kick, which caught the brave Russian at the finish line. Marianne was second in 2:31.09, and Raisa hung on for third finishing in 2:31.13.  When I saw Marianne later that evening, she said, “I told you at Bosön that if it came down to a kick, I would be ready, and I was.”


Bob Roncker sent us a link to a wonderful documentary filmed around 1970  at Humboldt State University on running in nature in the Pacific Northwest.  This film could easily be a tribute to Marianne and all runners past.

Harriers

V 5 N. 95 Several Stories and Pictures

From various sources these stories and pictures came.  First from the IAAF website, the account of Kira Grunberg's pole vaulting injury and rehabilitation.  Grunberg , a world class Austrian vaulter was rendered a paraplegic this summer prior to the Beijing WC's.  To read this article is heartening but also very, very sad to see a young person ending up this way.  We can only hope that she will continue to make progress and be able to resume her studies in pharmacy somewhere down the line.
Kira Grunberg

On to other more pleasant topics.   From : A chap named Hugh Barrow , writing on the "I Was or Am a Runner" facebook site, comes this picture and brief explanation about an historic event.

Tom Riddell as he left the beach at Dunkirk picked up a discarded rifle brought it home gave it to a relative who used to help arrest Rudolf Hess near Eaglesham.
As some of you history buffs may recall,  Herr Hess made a break with the Nazis and jumped out of a plane
over England and was arrested.  Spent the rest of his days after the war in Spandau prison in Germany.  

Recently a new book "The Illegal" by Laurence Hill who wrote  "The Book of Negroes" has been published.  It's the story of an elite marathoner, who is also an illegal immigrant in a fictitious country.  The focus is on undocumented immigrants and their daily plight to survive, but it also has some of the underbelly of the elite distance running world included.  If someone would like to do a review of the book, we would be happy to put it on our pages.  I tried to reserve the book in my local library, but there are 272 people ahead of me and only 7 copies of the book. For a brief description and short interview with author, see:

The Illegal


John Walker , documentary.
Also culled from "I Was Or Am A Runner" is this New Zealand documentary on John Walker's career.

John Walker     There are two segments each about 14 minutes long.  Good footage of his big races.


Then:   Former world class sprinter Steve Williams posted this bit on the same site we've been listing.  Apparently at one time Steve was hired as  speed coach for the New York Mets baseball team.


Mets Go Faster

1987-91 NY MET'S Speed Improvement Coach
The time is now, we've waited long enough ! Last World series 86



Remember this guy,  Western Kentucky, back in the day?

British Masters Relays , Sutton Park 21/5/2005

John Mather's photo.






Presidential Candidate is a former Cross Country runner


Bernie Sanders pictured here in his 1959 yearbook photo for James Madison HS , Brooklyn , NY is listed as captain of the cross county and track teams.
Sen. Chuck Shumer and comedian Larry David also walked the halls of James Madison.


Bernie Sanders and Willie Nelson, Two Old Runners


Don't believe me?  Check below.












Saturday, October 17, 2015

V 5 N. 94 Marianne Dickerson RIP



Marianne Dickerson, U. of Illinois alumna who won a silver medal in the marathon in the 1983 World Championships has passed away on October 14, 2015.    She was a native of St. Joseph, IL.
Her best time was  in the 1983 WC at 2 hours 31 min. and 9 sec. behind Greta Waitz who clocked 2hrs 28 min. 9 sec.  This was Marianne's only international race.  A running injury six weeks later would sideline her career and keep her out to the Los Angeles Olympics.

A descripition of that 1983 race and a bit of Marianne's life is described by Phil Hersch in this 1987 article from  The Chicago Tribune.
Marianne Dickerson

Friday, October 16, 2015

V 5 N. 93 October, 1965



OCTOBER 1965
If you are old enough to have opened the sports section Saturdaymorning October 12, you read of the heroics of the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax who shut out the Twins on four hits in the fifth game of the World Series.

Seventh Game 1965 World Series
You can see the complete seventh game all 2hours and 33 minutes of it narrated by Vin Scully.  Koufax was pitching his third game in the seven game series with only two days rest and and ailing shoulder.  This especially for those Dodger fans now in mourning due to last night's elimination of their team from the playoffs. ed.


But likely you did not read about Ludvik Danek breaking his own discus world record. The giant Czech took advantage of mild weather and an aiding wind in Sokolovo, Czechoslovakia to throw 213-11½, surpassing the mark he set last year by 2'2”. 
Danek Throwing



It is the 32nd and final world record set in this year of amazing achievements.
While Danek clearly dominates his event, the high jump has undergone a dramatic change. Valeriy Brumel's rule in the high jump has ended, at least for the near future, as reported in this issue of Track and Field News .

 China's Ni Chih Chin jumped 7-3¾ on September 29 and followed that with either a 7-4 or 7-4¼ in an unspecified meet. Brumel will be unable to respond to this challenge because on October 7 he fractured his ankle in a motorcycle accident. It will be at least a year until he is able compete. The king is dead (at least temporarily). Long live the king.

Brumel nearly had his lower right leg amputated just above the foot.  He never fully recovered, tried a long painful comeback as seen in the above video.  The injury was to his lead leg not the take off leg, and it is clear that he has a lot of pain while doing his approach.

A bit more on his life which ended at age 60 a few years ago.  Found on Wikipedia.
Brumel was born in a far eastern Siberian village to a family of geologists exploring the region.[3] They later moved to Lugansk and taught at a local university. Brumel took up the high jump at 12 in Lugansk, coached by P. S. Shtein. Aged 16 he cleared 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) using the then dominant straight-leg straddle technique. He improved his skills under the coaching of V. M. Dyachkov in Moscow. In 1960 he broke the USSR record, 2.17 metres (7 ft 1 in), and was selected to the Olympic team. At the 1960 Summer Olympics, he cleared the same height as the winner Robert Shavlakadze, but made more attempts and thus was awarded a silver medal.[2] In 1961–1963 he broke the world record in the high jump six times, improving it from 2.23 metres (7 ft 4 in) to 2.28 metres (7 ft 6 in).[4] He also won the high jump at the 1961 and 1963 Universiade, 1962 European Championships, the 1964 Summer Olympics and the USSR Championships of 1961–1963.[1][5]
After going undefeated during the 1965 season, Brumel suffered a multiple fracture in his right foot in a motorcycle accident, and faced an amputation. He was operated on successfully by professor Gavriil Ilizarov with a new leg-lengthening procedure using his external fixator. Yet even after 29 surgeries he could not fully recover. He retired in 1970 after jumping 2.06 metres (6 ft 9 in) at local competitions.[1][5]
In retirement Brumel turned to acting and writing. He starred in the films Sport, Sport, Sport (1970) and The Right to Jump (1971) and wrote numerous novels and plays, including the novel Don't Change Yourself (1979), which was translated into seven languages, and the libretto to Rauf Hajiyev's operetta Golden Caravel (Золотая каравелла).[1][5]

Personal life[edit]

Brumel had two brothers, Oleg (1944–2005) and Igor, a Russian politician born in 1952 in Rostov.[6] Brumel was married three times. His first wife, rhythmic gymnast Svetlana Lazareva, left him with a son in 1965, when Brumel was recovering from his motorcycle accident. In 1973 Brumel married Yelena Petushkova, an equestrian and 1972 Olympic champion in dressage. The couple divorced 18 months later citing irreconcilable differences. They had a daughter, Vlada Petushkova, born in 1974, who was raised by her mother.[7] In 1992 Brumel married Svetlana Belousova, who later founded and managed the Valeriy Brumel Fund. They had a son Viktor.[5][8]

An injury to Poland's triple jump record holder, Jozef Schmidt, is responsible for the Soviet Union besting West Germany in the European Cup, 86-85. Schmidt took the lead in the first round with a leap of 53-10 but on his second attempt pulled up lame, unable to compete further. Aleksandr Zolotaryev of the Soviet Union then matched Schmidt's mark. East Germany's Hans-Joachim Ruckborn topped them both in the third round with a PR of 54-2. Second place went to Zolotaryev on the basis of a better second jump as Schmidt had only the one jump. Thus the Russians gained the point they needed for the championship.

Little reported on cross county in this issue. Be looking for the November report.

Were you to turn to the final page of this issue, you would see a full page ad for “The Wonder Shoe of Tokyo”.
Tokyo 64
135 grams
 That would be Adidas, of course, the shoe that won 33 gold, 34 silver and 32 bronze medals in the recent Olympics. Adidas may be purchased through Carlsen Import Shoe on Franklin in New York City, Van Dervoort's Hardware on Washington in East Lansing or......wait for it.....Clifford Severn Sporting Goods on Magnolia in North Hollywood. Some things never change.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

V 5 N. 92 Miki Gorman, Bill Skinner, Beaufort Brown, and Ralph Fessenden, R.I.P.




with Jerome Drayton after 1974 Boston victory


We recently received notice that Miki Gorman passed away at age 80  in September after being diagnosed with cancer about five years ago.   Many of you will remember her as one of the first really good women marathoners.   When only a few women were starting to run marathons, Miki was regularly running sub 2hrs. 50 minutes at that distance and ultimately ran a world best 2 hr. 39 min. 11seconds.  Her first marathon was in 1974 at the Western Hemisphere Marathon in Culver City, CA.  She ran 2hr 46min 36 sec.    An Australian lady Adrienne Beames had run slightly better 2 hr. 46min. 30  over an accurately measured course, but it was as time trial, not an actual race.    Miki Gorman ran in the days before the marathoning and other distance races were added to the list of Olympic events, so her name does not appear in that list of records, but she certainly would have been a major player had there been a women's marathon in 1976.

Miki was born in China to Japanese parents in 1938.  Her father was in the Japanese army of occupation in northeast China.  After WWII she came to the states in 1963 to Carlisle, PA to work and study.  She married Michael Gorman and they came to California.  She joined a gym to workout to put on some weight as she was so small,  5 ft. 87 pounds, but got into running and entered an indoor, 100 miler, but dropped out at 86 miles.  The next year she completed that race.   Eventually she got into training under the eye of Lazlo Tabori, and she was soon burning up the roads.  In 1974, four months after that first marathon, she entered Boston and won in 2hr. 47min. 11 sec.  The following year she was second at Boston, then began a three race winning streak in 1976-77 with victories at NYC, Boston, and again at NYC at age 42.  In 1978 she set a world best time in the half marathon at 1hr. 15min. 58 sec.   Shortly afterward injuries ended her career.

She was honored in several running halls of fame, including Road Runners Club of America, National Distance Running HOF, and New York Road Runners HOF.


Others who have left us


Bill Skinner,   Tennessee All American

Skinner was an NCAA Champion javelin thrower in 1970

Oct. 6, 2015

Bill Skinner Obituary
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Two-time All-American and VFL Bill Skinner passed away on Monday after a fierce battle with pancreatic cancer.
Skinner was an elite javelin thrower and lettered at Tennessee from 1968-70. He took second at the NCAA Championships in 1969 with a distance of 83.28m (273 feet, 3 inches) and won the NCAA title in 1970 with distance of 82.49m (270 feet, 8 inches). In 1970, he swept the NCAA, AAU and USTFF titles. Skinner set the Tennessee javelin record of 88.96m (291 feet, 10 inches) 1970, which predates IAAF javelin specifications in 1980

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Skinner (as he was known to all) left home at 17 to join the U.S. Navy and toured the world aboard the U.S.S. Canberra. He played semi-pro football with the Delaware Clippers, was an amateur boxer, and worked as a sheet-metal worker. On a bet, he picked up the javelin and days later won the Middle Atlantic AAU title. He went on to earn a scholarship to the University of Tennessee, sweeping the NCAA, AAU, and USTFF titles in 1970. He was a member of the New York Athletic Club, earned four All-American designations, won five National Championships, and was captain of the United States Track & Field Team. He also captained the men's track and field team at the 1971 Pan-American games in Cali, Columbia. He earned notoriety for being removed from the UT track team for refusing to shave his mustache, a feature article in Sports Illustrated, and status as one of the best javelin throwers in the world. His image appears (uncredited) on the side of the original U.S. Track & Field arcade game.

Beaufort Brown    University of Florida
Beaufort Brown passed away earlier this Fall.   Below is his short autobiography that appeared on the U. of Florida track site.


BEAUFORT BROWN
B. 1953 - D. 2015

Beaufort Brown

(born: Tampa, Florida USA 1953)
University of Florida 1971 – 1975 “The Genesis of Champions Era”
Coaches: Jimmy Carnes, Head; Roy Benson, Asst; Dave Atkins,
440 and Relays

2011
I was recruited to the University of Florida's Track Program in 1971, by Head Coach Jimmy Carnes. While in Tampa Florida’s Middleton High School, I played football; was track team captain; and had won Championship titles at the Conference, District, Regional, and State levels.  When I was competing in the State of Florida’s Championship meet, Coach Carnes came to watch me run the 440 and the sprint medley relay—both of which I was favored to win. I anchored and won the relay; but when I made the mistake of looking back near the finish line, I lost the 440! As a result, Coach put me on the Gators’ team—but he wouldn’t give me a scholarship until I proved myself. From that point on, I never looked back—either literally or figuratively. My time as a Trackman at the University of Florida was The Best Time of My Life! I made some life-long friends with some great guys. Together, we put UF on the National Track and Field “map”, and we were among UF Track’s pioneers in “The Genesis of Champions” era. Florida’s jumpers, vaulters, and fielders were already soaring, so we runners began the tradition of the “Flat Out Flyin’ Florida Gators!” I loved impressing the fans with my trademark ‘flying’ leap across the finish line. The UF Track Team, several individuals and I became SEC Champions; my mile-relay teammates and I became National Champions; and I enjoyed earning a long list of honors and awards—including being elected team captain for an unprecedented three years! Coach Carnes encouraged me to be a versatile runner by challenging me to run everything from sprints to middle distances (100 – 880 yds)! I clocked some of the fastest times in the world for several events; ran in prestigious invitational meets; qualified for the Olympic Trials; and beat the Russians in the Jr. Olympics, while setting and shattering UF records all along the way! I even managed to make the Dean’s List! One newspaper article proclaimed, “Brown Is Beautiful!” and another nicknamed me, “Bodacious!”



Ralph Fessenden  University of Illinois

from the Oct. 7, 2015 Missoulian





October 1932-October 2015
MISSOULA – Ralph James Fessenden passed away Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. He was the son of Douglas Fessenden (former University of Montana Grizzly football coach) and Juliette (Armstrong) Fessenden.
He was educated in Missoula and Brownsville, Texas. He earned a track scholarship to the University of Illinois, where he excelled in running the 440-yard distance. In 1954 he placed fourth at the USA Track and Field Championships.  (editor's note:  I have not been able to verify this placing.  He did not appear in  the NCAA results.  This was probably the National AAU meet.)
He continued his chemistry studies at the University of Illinois, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He moved to California with his wife, Joan, and earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UC-Berkeley.
After teaching at San Jose State University, Ralph and his family moved to Missoula, where he taught in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Montana until retirement.
Ralph and Joan were internationally known organic chemistry authors, publishing their first book in 1971. Their books have been translated into six languages

Pete Brown sent us this confirmation:
Fessenden got 4th in the 1954 AAU 440 in 47.42 according to T&F News. Lea won, Mashburn second and Jones third.
Source: Track and Field News



Friday, October 2, 2015

V 5 N. 91 Fred Abington, Georgetown, USAF, Vanderbilt, SEC, Igloi, South Africa

Almost a year ago I received an email from Fred Abington through an intermediary, as Fred was not yet using email.  I negligently forgot to follow up on that letter, but Fred, now with email, contacted me again recently and sent  me  the article below about his very interesting career as a runner and through life as a world traveler.  I plan to learn more about Fred and continue the saga.  Here is a taste and a story about the South East Conference before it became a track and field power.

In addition here is a great track trivia question forwarded from John Cobley who writes, in my opinion, the best track blog out there, covering distance runners through the ages.  See:
racingpast.ca.
George

What child of a British track and field gold medalist became a world class actress?
See next post for the answer.



Former SEC champ traded running shoes for boots
May 6, 2015

Commodore History Corner Archive

Fred Abington was an elite distance runner on the Vanderbilt track teams in 1958-59. He broke Vanderbilt records in the one-mile and two-mile runs and was the SEC individual champion in both events in both years. Abington now lives in Cape Town, South Africa in a suburb named Gardens. That location is near the foot of Table Mountain.


This interview was obtained through the Internet by email with help from his friend Jean Bramley. This is a summary of Abington's life told in his own words: 
"I was born on August 11, 1933 in Mineola, Long Island, NY and grew up in Chatham, N.J. where I went to high school. I graduated in 1952 where in my senior year I ran the mile in 4:23.3, which I was told was the second fastest schoolboy time in the nation. I also played on the soccer, baseball and basketball teams in my sophomore, junior and senior years.

"I had to develop my own training methods in conjunction with Fred Wilt who a few years earlier had been one of the premier America mile runners and an FBI agent that ran for the New York Athletic Club.

"From high school I went to Georgetown University on a track scholarship. In my sophomore year, the track coach found out I was playing on the baseball team and he pulled my scholarship thus ending my stay at Georgetown.

This reminds one of the Bruce Dern's being removed from the team at U. Penn about the same year when he grew his hair too long.  See V 4 N. 15 of this blog.  ed. 

I spent two years in the Air Force where I ran a few races, but without any training. I was honorably discharged in 1957 and drove to Nashville where my family had moved during my military service. I was on the G.I. Bill and accepted into Vanderbilt with no intention to ever run again. I just wanted to get my degree, which was Experimental Psychology.

"I did my thesis on my track training, but I couldn't resist and started running again. In the next two years, I won seven SEC championships, two of which were conference records in cross-country (Atlanta, Nov. 24, 1958) and the mile in Baton Rouge in 4:12.2 in April 1959. However, in the Meet of Champions in Houston on June 7, 1958, I ran the mile in 4:07.3, which I'm sure, is still a Vanderbilt record.

"Upon graduation I moved to San Jose, California with my new wife from Nashville and began training under the great Hungarian coach Mihaly Igloi. I was also beginning a career as a probation officer and soon had two children that were 11 months apart. I continued to train daily, but with a new career and children it became increasingly difficult.

"Then the track club moved south to form the Los Angeles Track Club. Since I had a new career and children, I had to stay behind. I never ran again although I did get my time down to 4:04:3 under Igloo. In the decades to follow my life went through some trying times including divorce, bankruptcy, job change among others. In December 1971, I took a job with the city of San Jose as relocation specialist and retired in November 1992 at age 60.

"By this time my daughter and son were married and had children of their own. Prior to my retirement, I had done a three-week Outland Bound survival course in the Oregon wilderness at the age of 55. The following year, I did an Outward Bound three-week expedition to 17, 000 feet in the Himalayas. The next year, I helped put together a whitewater rafting expedition in the Yukon Territory in Canada and Alaska.

"With these behind me, and full of energy and enthusiasm, I decided to strike out on my own. After years of preparation and having informed all of my family, I donned my backpack and purchased a one-way ticket to Katmandu, Nepal with the intention of backpacking the world with no plans and no date of return. I was terrified! And I was scared. It was October 1995 when I backpacked in Nepal, India, Thailand and Sumatra. I was forced to curtail my travels in December and returned to the States to have a hip replacement.

"At the end of my recuperation period I received a call from a friend I had made in the Himalayas and Alaska. We had many conversations about someday going to Africa. She was calling from a place called Cloudbreak Backpackers Lodge in Cape Town, South Africa. Within a week I joined her. I loved living at the Cloudbreak where I met many very interesting people; almost all were college students or graduates from around the world.

"I hit it off with all of them as they used Cloudbreak as their jumping-off place. I became one of them. I stayed at the Backpackers Lodge for six years making new friends and traveling the world. I've been through 43 countries and have had experiences you would not believe especially here in South Africa. I literally lived out of my backpack for 10 years from the age of 62 to 72. The six years I lived at the Cloudbreak were without a doubt the best continuous six years of my life and Cape Town became my home."

Igloi was a Hungarian distance running coach. He was a multiple champion in Hungary in the 1930s. He participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin in the 1500 meters. Igloi became a coach in Budapest and the Hungarian Army Club. He coached many of his students in the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics.

Igloi moved to the United States and formed the Los Angeles Track Club then the Santa Monica Track Club. One of his runners was Jim Beatty that became the first man to run a four-minute mile indoors. Beatty set many American indoor and outdoor distance records. Another one of his runners, Bob Schul, ran a world record (8:26.4) in the two-mile and won the 5,000 meters the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Fred AbingtonIn Abington's first race representing Vanderbilt as a junior, he broke a school record in the mile (4:29.3) that had lasted 43 years set by Robert Garner. Abington then erased the two-mile record that was held by Evan Howell in 1921 with a time of 9:49.4.

This article written by John Bibb of theTennessean appeared in the sports section in the May 21, 1958 edition:

"Vanderbilt's Fred Abington plans to forgo the two-mile after Saturday's Southeastern AAU meet in Atlanta.

"Abington, the finest distance runner in Vandy history and among the best in the Southeastern Conference annals said yesterday he will concentrate on the mile only in the Meet of Champions in Houston and the NCAA in Berkeley, Calif., next month.

"`I'm going to run the mile and two-mile in Atlanta,' Abington said, `but after that I am going to forget the two-mile and concentrate on improving my speed in the mile.'

"Right now Abington is bothered with a blister on his little toe. But, blister or not, Fred is top a heavy favorite to win the SEAAU.

"`I don't know how I got this blister,' Abington said while receiving treatment from Vandy's trainer Joe Worden. `I supposed my sock bunched up or something. It is a little late in the season to be getting blisters.'

"Abington who set two Vandy records in winning the SEC mile and two-mile in Birmingham Saturday now has lowered the Commodore standard to 4:15.2 in the mile and 9:30.3 in the two-mile.

"When Abington started competition this spring for Vanderbilt, the Commodore record in the mile was 4:29.2 and the two-mile was 9:49.4."

Abington finished in fourth in the mile at the Meet of Champions in Houston with a time of 4:07.3. At the NCAA Championships in June, Abington placed seventh in the mile at 4:08.4. Abington also ran a race in the famed Madison Square Garden.

Longtime Vanderbilt track coach Herc Alley led the Commodores in this era. In 1959, Abington repeated as the individual SEC Champion in the one-mile (4:12.2) and the two-mile (9:32.6).

Abington said in a Nashville Banner article in May 1959:

"Admittedly I am a poor loser. When I lose, I know there must be something wrong somewhere, and I've got to find out where. It is not impossible for me to just rub it out of my memory."

This will be the final Commodore History Corner story for this school year.

If you have any comments or suggestions contact Bill Traughber via email WLTraughber@aol.com



What a great article about Fred Abington.  He has done so many things which make the rest of us look like slackers.  The SEC was really primitive in those days, as was the stadium at Vanderbilt.  The Igloi portion of his training did not surprise me, especially with his significant improvement.  Igloi did not only have a sound physiological plan but he was very motivational to nearly all of his athletes.      Bill Schnier

Thursday, October 1, 2015

V 5 N. 90 A Poem and an Old Picture

In about three days we will  get our 200,000th hit on this blog.  Thanks to all of you who read it regularly.  Your comments and  added references make the effort worthwhile.  To celebrate in advance I'm putting a nostalgic picture and a poem for the first time ever on the blog.

Recently I stumbled across this photo from 1936.  It is of University of Texas Coach Clyde Littlefield, third from left and five of his Longhorn runners taken for publicity before the Texas Relays.  I forwarded it to several of our readers who ran at UT in the mid 60s when Clyde was retired but still active with the team.   Preston Davis sent  two messages about it seen below.

George…

Thanks for the photo.  I have seen this photo before in Coach Littlefield’s home back in the mid-60’s. 
 Looks like they had some fun running track at UT with Coach Littlefield.


Note the remarkable resemblance of Clyde to Gene Autrey
Only thing missing is a guitar and the Wonder Horse, Champion

Preston Davis

George, and guys…

The “cowboy” standing next to Coach Littlefield (second from left) is Harvey Wallender, who is in the 
Longhorn Hall of Honor.  He won the SWC 100 and 220 three years in a row and finished second to 
Jesse Owens in the NCAA 220 in 1936.  He also finished fifth in the 100, again to Owens who also won the long jump.  The Texas team won the SWC championship’s all three years Harvey was at Texas…he was captain his senior year.


Also received today is the following poem...   forwarded to us by Joseph A. Swanson, visiting scholar at Kellogg School of Management,  Northwestern University.   I think it was in response to the earlier post from Paul O'Shea's book review of Jeff Hollobaugh's book on tactics in running the mile.   Jim Metcalf had also sent in a comment on Herb Elliott's tremendous race in Rome.  I think this poem outlines some of the thoughts of those who shared the track that day with Elliott.  And maybe some of ours too.

GB


Always Something More Beautiful

This time I came to the starting place
with my best running shoes, and pure speed
held back for the finish, came with only love
of the clock and the underfooting
and the other runners. Each of us would
be testing excellence and endurance

in the other, though in the past I’d often
veer off to follow some feral distraction
down a side path, allowing myself
to pursue something odd or beautiful,
becoming acquainted with a few of the ways
not to blame myself for failing to succeed.

I had come to believe what’s beautiful
had more to do with daring
to take yourself seriously, to stay
the course, whatever the course might be.
The person in front seemed ready to fade,
his long, graceful stride shortening

as I came up along his side. I was sure now
I’d at least exceed my best time.
But the man with the famous final kick
already had begun his move. Beautiful, I heard
a spectator say, as if something inevitable
about to come from nowhere was again on its way.
Source: Poetry (June 2015).

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Stephen Dunn