Saturday, January 11, 2020

V 10 N. 3 Race Across America Eddie Gardner and the Bunion Derbies book review

Race across America
Eddie Gardner and the Great Bunion Derbies
By Charles B. Kastner (Seychelles 1980-82)
Syracuse University Press
December 2019
319 pages
Hardcover - $75.00
Paper – $29.95

Reviewed by Thomas E. Coyne

This is a book worth reading!  And well-illustrated, besides!

Actually, it is three books in one, drawing on Charles Kastner’s previous histories
 of the, now largely forgotten, 1928 and 1929 C. C. Pyle’s International-Trans-
Continental Foot Races.  The two races are covered but this is, equally, a focused look 
at race relations in the United States in the 1920’s and the efforts of African Americans 
to achieve full integration into white America.

Author Kastner uses the story of Edward  “Eddie” Gardner to tell his tale. Gardner,
born in Alabama, was a respected African American distance runner in the greater 
Seattle, Washington community. In 1928 he participated in the trans-continental race 
planned by the Route 66 Highway Association to draw attention to the nation’s best-known
national highway.  The Association contracted with C. C. Pyle to conduct the event.
Pyle succeeded, displaying a flair for attention and ballyhoo plus a level of incompetence
and callousness that, in retrospect, makes one marvel even more at the tenacity of the
runners who completed, not one, but two such races.

Money, not glory, was the motivation for these runners.  They were international distance
running stars and poor, but athletic, working class Americans.  The latter, with the same 
desire as countless other Americans, generations before them, who had walked East to 
West next to their covered wagons in pursuit of a better life for their families.

Pyle offered his competitors a shot at $25, 000 for the winner with $10, 000, $5,000 and 
$2,500 for second, third and fourth.  Finishers five through ten would win $1,000.  In 1928, 
this was life changing money for the average person.  To seek it, one hundred ninety-nine 
starters toed the line on March 4, 1928 in Los Angeles and, after running 3,422.3 miles, 
fifty-five crossed a finish line on May 26 in New York City.  

A year later, reality had set in.  Seventy-seven contestants, including forty-three repeaters 
from the first race, started on March 31st in New York City and, running a different route
of 3,553.6 miles, nineteen finished on June 16th in Los Angeles.

A major difference; the runners in the 1928 race received their prize money.  The finishers 
in the 1929 run received worthless promissory notes and never collected. 

In his two previous books the author focused on the races with some attention given to 
efforts by the African American runners to show their fellow white citizens they could 
compete as well as white athletes as distance runners.  In this writing, Kastner shines his 
light on Gardner who finished in eighth place in the 1928 race.  In 1929 he was the sole 
African American to return for the second running and led the run in its early stages but
succumbed to injury and fatigue and dropped out after 1,536.60 miles.

Eddie Gardner clearly wanted to successfully represent his race and African American
newspapers were the primary sources of information about that effort.  Yet, there is no 
doubt he also had the same motivation as the white runners.  Finishing in the top money
 meant a better life for him and his family.

Gardner, however, had to face the Jim Crow South as well as racial prejudice in other
states on his journeys and Kastner’s recounting presents a sobering look at race history 
in the United States.  To the credit of his fellow competitors, Gardner was treated as a 
respected comrade runner who shared the same miserable treatment C. C. Pyle gave 

Kastner deserves accolades for the years of research that have gone into his three books 
about C. C. Pyle’s Bunion Derbies.  This account gives graphic descriptions of men who
ran through rugged terrain and terrible weather conditions at paces per mile that would 
be respectable in modern day marathons and ultra-marathons.  

While the author does not comment on the hundreds of subsequent runs across America, 
he should take pleasure in knowing that the spirit of the bunioneers lives on.  Since Andy
Payne’s 1928 run of 3,422.3 miles in 84 days the cross-continent record has now dropped 
to Pete Kostelnick’s 2016 run of 3100 miles in 42 days-six hours-30 minutes.

Read the book!  The will power of these runners will impress you.

Thomas E. Coyne has been a runner since 1947.  In all that time he never once 

felt the urge to run one step more than the 26.2 mile marathon distance.

Ed. Note: Some of you may recall that Thom Coyne also reviewed the first two books
of this trilogy. The link to that review is: Vol 4 N. 3 April 29, 2014

This review was originally done for a blog by Thom Coyne's brother  John Coyne   for returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  Mr. Kastner was a volunteer in The Seychelles 1980-82

michael gregory

6:18 PM (1 hour ago)
to me
George---I sent you several emails about Andy Payne of Okla City who won the 1928 Bunion Derby.  He became the clerk of the Okla Supreme Court for 34 years.

Friday, January 10, 2020

V 10 N. 2 Mike Lindsay, Scottish Olympian, Oklahoma Sooner R.I.P. And Buddy Stewart 1000 Yard Man

              Mike Lindsay, Scotland  Discus Thrower and Shot Putter

Mike Lindsay, an outstanding shot and discus thrower at the University of Oklahoma class of 1960 passed away recently (December 11, 2019).  He was 81 years old.   Mike was from Glasgow, Scotland and had represented Great Britain in Rome and Tokyo in 1960 and 64.  But he represented Scotland at several Empire and Commonwealth Games.   He was fifth at Rome behind the three Americans Bill Neider, Dallas Long and Parry O'Brien, and the Russian Viktor Lipsnis.  At the time Mike was throwing 58 feet, but he was used to being around the American trio and was not intimidated by their 60' throws.  He threw his steady 58 feet and placed high.
Chris and Mike Lindsay at Great Britain B match against Norway.
Chris was a 400 meter man.

I came to the Unversity a year later and got to know Mike a bit as he worked in Jefferson House for the year after he graduated.  He was an incredibly intelligent man.  He could breeze through his engineering texts prepping for a test and be carrying on a full blown conversation with several people.  Initially that wasn't easy, because no one could understand him with his Scottish burr, and he couldn't get the Okie drawl.  Eventually both he and the Sooners caught on.
Arthur Rowe and Mike Lindsay

As you will see in some of the following obits, he went home, earned a Phd. and became head of the sports science department at Leeds University, one of the top physical education and sports science departments in England.

When Mike arrived at Norman, Oklahoma, he asked, "Where is the weight room?"  People replied, "What's that?"   Mike got them started with a weight program.  At that time football was king as it is today, but there was no weight training program.  The weight room was 'created' under the grandstand in a small unheated space, with a dirt floor.  There was one bench, one barbell and a set of plates and a couple of dumbells, and I'm not referring to the pole vaulters.  Oh yes, there was also a spittoon for Dan Erwin another all American shot putter.  The note in the obit below that Mike benefitted from good facilities and coaching at the university was not quite true.  He was his own coach and he introduced the concept of strength training to the university.  At that time the  only books one could find on weight training were published in England.

It is noted in sme of Mike's obits that he was never accused of doping in all his career.  I remember though his mother used to send him protein supplements from health food stores in Scotland.  He was always adding that powder to his milk in the dining hall.

He held the Scottish records in the discus and shot for  15 years.  When he practiced the discus in the 180 range and we were running track work outs we always had to watch out of the corner of our eye when he was throwing, because the discus often skidded across the track.    More than one runner has had a career ending injury from an errant discus.  One of Igloi's top runners had that fate with the L.A. Track Club.

I never saw this but I heard that Mike used to like to tease some of the track guys by stuffing them in the trash cans in the hall way.  The only guy he couldn't do that to was  6'4" decathlete and pole vaulter J.D. Martin.  He also met his match in a wrestling contest with Tommy Evans the assistant wrestling coach and a 152 pound Olympic sivler medalist.  Tommy pinned Mike in a matter of seconds.

On the track, Mike was the fastest guy out of the blocks on the team including the sprinters, and he could high jump 6. 0".

One of the funniest stories about Mike was when he and Claude Hammond, another thrower were riding double on a bicycle (imagine 450 pounds of people on a bike) one of them on the handlebars.  They came barreling around one corner of the football stadium and had a head on crash with another cyclist who weighed all of 130 pounds.  It should have been no contest, but Hammond dislocated his finger, and when Mike saw it, he threw up and fainted.  The little 130 pounder was standing over both of them trying to console Hammond.  We laughed for days about that.

I had been trying for several years to track down Mike and was not successful.  I wish I had, and could have heard that great Scottish accent one more time.

Another member of that Sooner team also passed away recently.  Buddy Stewart from Woodward, Oklahoma.  Buddy was in the same year as Mike.  He taught me some good life lessons as a rookie. As a runner he fit in between the mile and half mile.  The 1000 yards was made for him and he did very well at that distance.  When I saw him last time he told me he had married a woman who had saved his life when he was drowning in a swimming pool.  He had come in from a training run and jumped in the pool to cool off and cramped up,  and she was able to save him.  Buddy's career wasn't as stellar as Mike Lindsay's but he was one of those people who still teaches you things that you carry along through life.  I miss them both.

Buddy Stewart winning the 1000 at Indiana U. Kentucky tri meet at Bloomington.

Here is the Obituary on Mike from The Scotsman, by Jack Davidson

Mike Lindsay, athlete. Born: 
2 November 1938. Died: 
11 December 2019, aged 81

Mike Lindsay, who has died aged 81, was arguably Scotland’s greatest ever shot putter and discus thrower, raising standards in both events to unprecedented levels while winning a stack of honours domestically and internationally. A multiple British and Scottish champion and international on more than 35 occasions in the course of a long career, his high point came when, aged only 21, he secured 5th place in the shot at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. This was the highest place ever achieved in the event by a British athlete and was subsequently never bettered, albeit equalled once, by Geoff Capes at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
At the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, he secured silver medals for Scotland in both shot and discus, in the former missing gold by a mere 4cms. A year later he became the first Scot to breach the 60ft barrier in the shot, a feat as significant athletically as the four-minute mile, while at the World Student Games in Brazil he collected another two silver medals in his speciality events. Being one of the first British athletes to gain a sports scholarship to the USA, to Oklahoma University in the late 1950s, undoubtedly enhanced his development into a world class thrower. Once retired from competition in 1971, he enjoyed an accomplished career in the field of physical education and academia, becoming very involved in the development of the study of bio mechanics.
Michael Robert Lindsay was born in Glasgow, the younger son of Archie and Lucy, at a time when his father was stationed locally in the army. Elder brother Chris was also a noted athlete who represented Great Britain ‘B’ at 440 yards. Because of family connections they soon moved to Coldstream, where Mike attended the local primary school. When Mike was 11 the family moved to London because his father had secured employment with Royal Mail and he attended St Marleybone Grammar School, where his sporting potential was first noted. A talented all-rounder, he shone at rugby, cricket and athletics, initially competing in jumping events. As he developed physically and started weight training, his coach Doug Mannion switched him to throwing events, at which he showed promise.

It proved a wise decision as Mike achieved prodigiously as a junior athlete winning the AAA (British) titles at shot and discus in both 1956 and ’57, in the latter year also claiming the senior AAA title at discus while still a junior. He also set a world junior best in the event with a throw over 193ft, beating the previous best by 10ft by the iconic Al Oerter, later multiple Olympic champion.
In 1957, aged 18, he set his first of many Scottish records in the shot at Edinburgh Highland Games, obliterating the previous one by 6ft, represented Scotland in his first international against Ireland in Dublin winning both shot and discus and gained his first British international vest against France. The following year, in Cardiff, he made the first of four appearances for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, finishing a creditable 4th and 6th at discus and shot respectively, and in 1959 repeated his AAA discus success while runner up in the shot.
Oklahoma University, duly impressed, offered Mike a sports scholarship and he rewarded their faith by setting a British discus record within a year. Access to top level coaching and facilities while competing against throwers of the calibre of Olympic champions Parry O’Brien and Al Oerter edged him towards world class as he made his mark at the Rome Olympics.
After graduating in mechanical engineering in 1962 he returned to continue competing successfully for virtually the next decade under coach Ron Pickering. He added an AAA title in the shot to his CV, won the event for Britain in the 1963 contest against the USA, beating future Olympic champion Randy Matson, competed in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and made further Commonwealth Games appearances in Perth, Kingston and Edinburgh.
By the time of Mike’s final international match in 1971, for Scotland against the Home Nations, he had topped the Scottish ranking lists at shot and discus for 15 years consecutively, an unparalleled dominance. Throughout his career he remained steadfastly drug free at a time when drug misuse had infiltrated the sport.
After Perth 1962 he remained there for six months, teaching at the Scotch College, and on his return undertook a post graduate teaching qualification at Carnegie PE College in Leeds before studying for a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds when the significance of the application of Biomechanics to sport was being recognised. There followed lectureships in Biomechanics at Madeley College, Staffordshire, Dunfermline PE College, Edinburgh and a PhD in Bio Engineering at Strathclyde University. In 1979 he was appointed Director of PE at University of Leeds, where he remained until retiring in 2004, making a major contribution to the development of sports science degrees.
Eminent coach Frank Dick said: “Mike brought greater understanding to the application of Biomechanics to sport and developing athletes. He was also a true gentleman who hid his light under a bushel.”
In 1972 Mike married Vivienne Greener, a teacher and lecturer whom he had met in Leeds and the couple went on to enjoy 47 years together, latterly living in Harrogate.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

V 10 N. 1 Phil Henson, Long Time Coach And Professor at Indiana U. R..I.P.

I never knew Phil Henson, but he was on our list of subscribers of this blog.  We were recommended to him by best friend, Bill Schnier, U. of Cincinnati Track Coach.   One of the highlights of Phil's  career was serving as meet manager for Track and Field at the Atlanta Olympics. 

Bill wrote these words about his friend.

  I just heard about the passing of Phil Henson but I don't know any details.  Not only was Phil an extremely knowledgeable coach of T&F, especially the field events, but he was also a very good friend whose career in our sport mirrored mine in many respects.  He preceded me as Sam Bell's grad assistant at IU and paved the way for me to eventually take his place when he became an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin.  When I left IU to take the head coaching job at the University of Cincinnati, Phil returned to IU to teach biomechanics and human performance, at the same time volunteering as an assistant to Sam Bell.  He often told the correct story how we traded off living in the same apartment building at 571 Evermann Apts. at IU for 11 years; Phil and Jane for 5 years, then Kathy and me for 4 years, then Phil and Jane again for 2 more years.  We were at the same university, had the same graduate school major, had the same job, and even lived in the same apartment.  Following the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Kathy and I continued our honeymoon by going back to Central Connecticut University to stay with Phil and Jane for two days.  Over the years we did many things together in large part due to our parallel lives.  Jane died of cancer about 6 years ago and the last time I saw Phil was on a trip we took a few years ago to the Cass Scenic Railroad in Cass, WV.  Phil loved trains and tractors, owning two tractors which he stored at his home in Bloomington.

   Phil was a wizard in his knowledge of field events.  In addition he was equally skilled at organization, serving as the meet manager for T&F at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.  His career path leaned more toward teaching whereas mine was in coaching, yet we still had so much in common.  When the Big East T&F meet was held in Cincinnati, he served as the head referee.  He was so well regarded that there were no protests during those three days in a conference which was extremely contentious.  He made things go smoothly.

   For the past 15 years or so Phil suffered from MS, causing an increasingly pronounced limp which I suspect was the eventual cause of his death.  Nevertheless, he still lived a normal life, soldiering on in the best way possible.  He was an extremely loyal person, serving Sam and Fran Bell, along with Brian and Brenda Lewis, as Sam and Fran aged. 

   As we age we lose more and more people with whom we share so many experiences of long duration.  Two days ago I was informed of the death of Darrell Dailey, a person with whom I played every sport in grade school and high school for thousands of hours.  Let's all remember our long-time friends and value what they have given us over the years.

The following came from the IU Sports Information Desk
Bloomington, Ind. – Former IU Track and Field Assistant Coach Phil Henson died on Saturday in Bloomington. He was 74 years old. Henson was a long-time assistant coach for the Hoosier program, working alongside legendary head coach Sam Bell from 1980-94. Henson played an integral role on Bell's staff during one of the Hoosier track and field program's most successful periods. He worked closely with numerous Hoosier NCAA champions, All-Americans and Olympians, including DeDee Nathan, Dave Volz and Alan Turner.

In addition to his work with IU Track and Field, he also served the sport in a variety of capacities both nationally and internationally. The highlight of his involvement on the international scene came in 1996, when he served as Director of Competition for Track and Field at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. 

In addition to those roles, Henson was also a valued member of the Indiana University faculty. Henson, who earned both his Master's and Ph.D. from Indiana University, joined the IU Department of Kinesiology faculty in 1980, serving in a part-time capacity until his retirement from coaching. Upon the completion of his 1996 Olympic responsibilities, he became a full-time assistant professor until his retirement in 2013.

"Phil wore many hats at IU, all the way from full-time coach to professor, and most recently as a volunteer coach working with Coach Jake Wiseman and his multi-athletes," said IU Track and Field Coach Ron Helmer. "Phil's knowledge of track and field was boundless, making him a highly sought after meet referee and official, including his work at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Beyond that, Phil was just a good man who truly loved what he did. The track and field community lost a good one."

Saturday, December 21, 2019

V 9 N. 53 The Exclusive Five and Ten Club, a Review by Paul O'Shea

On The Starting Line With The Exclusive Five-and-Ten Club

Book Review

By Paul O'Shea

How do you measure greatness in an athlete?  In distance running at the highest level, the traditional metrics are honors won, meeting performances and world rankings.  Richard Amery offers another test:  runners who set world records at both five thousand and ten thousand meters.  They live in a high-end zip code.

Only ten men in the last 107 years have set world records at both distances.  Since the the IAAF (now World Athletics) began recognizing records in each event in 1912, the shorter race has seen 35 record performances, the longer, 37 marks.

In his splendid new book,  The Five and Ten Men:  Ten Men Who Redefined Distance Running, Amery brings this group to life through an expansive recounting of their careers.  It's a valuable book for the nostalgic fan, as well as the novice who wants to learn more about the sport's rich history.
Emil Zatopek
Amery says in the book's introduction, "I've always been interested in distance running.  Not because of any great ability on my part.  My only ever-decent run was somewhat tainted.  I won the South Australian State marathon but was soon disqualified (later reinstated) for wearing the wrong colored shorts!

The book's subjects chose themselves.  Of the many record holders over these classic distances, there have only ever been ten who held both records.  Were it to be a book on the ten greatest distance runners, the list would probably not be much different."
Paavo Nurmi, the first to hold both records
Taisto  Maki, first to break 30:00

Amery understands that comparing sporting performances over different eras is difficult.  "Distance running, in line with most other sports, has undergone great changes in the last eighty years or so in the period during which the individuals covered in this book competed."

Kenenisa Bekele the latest to hold both records

Meticulously researched and reported,  The Five and Ten Men (2019, 301 pages, Book Depository  and Amazon)  presents such familiar names as Nurmi, Zatopek, Gebrselassie, and Bekele.  Kuts, Clarke, Viren, and Rono are also among the dual record holders.  Mostly forgotten today are Taisto Maki and Sandor Iharos.  Geb leads the five-and-ten set with seven world records.  Next are Zatopek and Clarke with six each.  Bekele currently holds both, the first set in 2004, the other a year later.

Haile Gebrselassie

Lasse Viren
Some historically boldface names were never able to set both records.  Among them:  Gunder Hagg, Said Aouita, Paul Tergat, Mo Farah, and Eliud Kipchoge.

Or the more obscure distance doublers, Maki and Iharos each suffered greatly because of the chaotic political  events affecting the world, before and after the Second World War.

Taisto Maki was the first to break thirty minutes for 10,000 meters.  The Finnish distance runner set two world records at that distance, taking ten seconds off his own mark, with 29:52.6. 

Sandor Iharos and Lazlo Tabori
Sandor Iharos was a key member of the highly successful Hungarian trio coached by Mihaly Igloi (Istvan Rozsavolgyi, Lazlo Tabori, his compatriots).  He broke the five thousand twice, the second race reclaiming the honor from Kuts.  Iharos was also one of  only two athletes (the other, Nurmi) to hold world records over 1500, 5000, and 10,000 meters.  Amery ably describes the Hungarian revolution enveloping Iharos and others as the country struggled with Russian aggression.  
Henry Rono

Ron Clarke
One of the distance legends covered in The Five and Ten Men is Australian Ron Clarke,  successful from the fifteen hundred to the marathon.  He was the first to run three miles in less than thirteen minutes.  Four days later he was the first to run ten thousand in less than twenty-eight-minutes.

"Clarkey" was a familiar face on the starting line.  During a 44-day European tour in 1965 he competed 18 times and broke twelve world records including the 20,000 meters and the one-hour run.

For Clarke, his record suffered from never having won Oympic gold, notwithstanding a career few exceeded.  Those who saw it in person and those who find it on You Tube, remember Billy Mills' desperate charge in the home stretch of the 1964 Olympic ten thousand, and Clarke's stricken face as the American crosses the finish line several meters ahead to win gold.  His bronze was to be his only Olympic medal; Zatopek gave him one of the Czech's own golds as a gift.

Vladimir Kuts leading Gordon Pirie

Enriching the stories that Amery tells  are thirty-nine photos of the ten in action, many of them this writer had not seen.  The book's cover shows Russian Vladimir Kuts winning the Olympic five thousand at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Author, Richard Amery

A retired high school physical education teacher, Amery and his wife, Christine, live in the Adelaide hills of Australia.  (Ed. note.  The Adelaide hills are currently  in the middle of severe forest fires at the time of this writing.)  In his early years he was an accomplished runner.  "Now, on my morning runs with my border collie, I normally see no one, just the wildlife, mainly kangaroos.

"I've always had an interest in both history and distance running, and I hope this book is some demonstration of that interest.  I've tried to tell stories that I think are worth telling, but in many cases have either been forgotten or never really told in the first place."

In an epilogue, the author traces the decline of performances at these distances to the growth of road
racing, especially the big city marathons and their magnificent financial rewards. Adding to the
deterioration are the lack of competitive opportunities stemming from the excision of longer races at
international meets. We're approaching Seb Coe's ninety-minute plan.

"The only certainty is that the 5,000m and 10,000m records (as of August 2019) will be broken,"
Amery writes. "Despite the longevity of the present records, sooner or later there will be others who
come along with the necessary physical and mental requisites to run better times. It will not be easy.
The last three record holders in both distances have been exceptional talents living in almost ideal
environments from a distance running viewpoint, in addition to undertaking excellent (and hard)
training. But broken they will be. Nothing is more certain."

A world record is like a Patek Philippe watch. You never actually own one. You merely look after it
for the next generation.

Current titleholder, Kenenisa Bekele: 12:37.35 and 26:17.53.

Paul O'Shea is a lifelong participant in the track and field world. After retirement from a career in
corporate communications he coached a high school girls cross country team and was a long-time
contributor to Cross Cournty Journal. He writes for Once Upon a Time in the Vest from Northern
Virginia. He can be reached at


Ed. Note. In looking for pictures for this article, I found a wealth of them
and want to add some more below.

Jack and Ron Clarke. 
 Jack, an Aussie Rules footballer is as famous in Australia as his brother.

Lasse Viren

Rozsavolgyi taking handoff from Iharos in the heyday

Paavo Nurmi

Sandor Iharos at White City Stadium, London, England

Viren winning 10,000 at Munich ahead of Emiel Puttemans and Miruts Yifter

Paavo Nurmi

Let's not forget that Rono had WR steeple too.  

Emil Zatopek's improvised cooling system during Helsinki marathon

Emil Zatopek speaking in the streets during the Prague Spring in 1968
He would be banished from an army officer's retirement  life  to working in a uranium mne for this defiance.

Henry Rono
Paavo Nurmi looking remarkably like Greta Thunberg
The podium at la Cross de l'Humanite 1955
Jerzy Chromik, Vladimir Kuts, Emil Zatopek
Haile Gebrsellasie taking down Paul Tergat at Sydney
Emil Zatopek on the track
Lasse Viren in the forest

Haile Gebrselassie with Mo Farah and Kenenisa Bekele

Haile Gebrsellasie

V 10 N. 3 Race Across America Eddie Gardner and the Bunion Derbies book review

Race across America Eddie Gardner and the Great Bunion Derbies By Charles B. Kastner (Seychelles 1980-82) Syracuse University Pr...