Tuesday, July 16, 2019

V 9 N. 20 A New Record in the Women's Mile and a Book Review

I hope you were able to watch Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands set a new World Record in the women's mile in Monaco this past Friday.  4:12.33.   If you missed it, clik on the link below.  She is flat out amazing.

Hassan WR Mile

 As she ran Sifan reminded me of  Herb Elliott (this is my supreme compliment) taking over after 2   1/2  laps and smoking the field.  Her last two laps were 61 and 62 seconds.  Just an incredible run, a negative split of 2:09/2:03.  

There have been some stunning performances this past indoor and current outdoor season, but this one is to me the best.  Kejelcha's indoor mile record was also wonderful, and the 1:41+ 800 by Nigel Amos also at Monaco was magnificent to watch. 

My friend Geoff Williams  had this comment about Hassan. 
   " I saw the Womens Mile from last week's Diamond League in Monaco.    A great race by Hassan of The Netherlands.  It put me in mind of when I saw Diane Leather break the record in 1955 with 4:45-they have come a long way since then.  The womens record is now only 30 seconds behind the mens compared with 47 seconds in 1955 (lots of factors involved there) If they keep gaining at the same pace they will be pretty close in about 130 years."
"Canadian Gabrielle Stafford was way back but set a decent Canadian record."
Regards.
Geoff




Running to the Edge
A Band of Misfits and the Guru Who 
Unlocked the Secrets of Speed
by Matthew Futterman
Doubleday, New York
2019
283 pages

     This book is about Bob Larson, a Minnesota farm boy who would become one of America's most successful club, junior college, university coaches and eventually coach of some of America's most successful professional distance runners.

     After Larson's father was injured in an accident on the farm, the family moved to a warmer climate in southern California and Bob gradually became a respected coach at Monte Vista High School, moved on to Grossmont JC, and eventually to the head coaching post at UCLA.    Though he had many great sprinters and jumpers at UCLA, this book is primarily about Larson's relationships with distance runners and finding his own path to getting the most out of those runners while confronting the hazards of injury and overuse along the way.  He also put together the Jamul Toads, a crew of distance runners who challenged the established clubs in Colorado and the East Coast and won the 1976 national cross country championship on Philadelphia's venerable Fairmont Park course.

     Ed Mendoza, Thom Hunt, Kirk Pfeffer,  Terry Cotton, Tom Lux, Dale Fleet, Dave Harper, and Glenn Best were the members of that team.  They were so low on funding that there was room only in the trunk of the rental car for Best to travel to the meet from the hotel.

      The back stories of that national championship make the book worth reading.  How all these guys came together to challenge the establishment, the lack of funding from the shoe companies.  The personal challenges that each runner went through.  Several of them were still in university and took time away from their regular teams (after the NCAA meet) to run for the Toads.  Pfeffer was told by his AD at Colorado that if he didn't run for the Colorado Track Club at that meet, that he should not consider coming back to the university.  

     Less time is spent in the book with Larson's career at UCLA other than to say he won several national collegiate championships and produced a lot of All Americans.  There is also mention of his recruiting and coaching of Meb Keflezighi at UCLA. The second half of the book is more devoted to Larson's post collegiate work with Keflezighi and Deena Kastor, and bringing them to the peak of their running careers.  The struggles for financing and the ins and outs of shoe company contracts and the loss of interest in a supposedly over the hill athlete make for some good insider reading.    

     The writer also blends in his own running career throughout the book.  The reader may chose to skip over these segments if he or she so chooses.  Mr. Futterman italicizes his personal story as if to let you know this fact.    My sole criticism of the book is the lack of pictures.   There is one of the Jamul Toads, but the individual runners are not identified, so unless you knew these guys personally you are left in the dark.

George Brose

     

Friday, July 5, 2019

V 9 N. 19 Who Was the First Man to Break 30 minutes for 10,000 Meters?


In the previous posting, I had a picture of Taisto Armas Maki the world record holder in 10,000 meters in 1942.  Mentioned I had never heard of the man.  Well it turns out he not only held the WR, but he was also the first person to go under 30 minutes in the event.

photo from "Das Ist Soumi"

Here is Maki's pedigree:  Not too shabby  (from Wikipedia)
Taisto Armas Mäki (2 December 1910 – 1 May 1979) was a Finnish long-distance runner – one of the so-called "Flying Finns".[2] Like his coach and close friend, Paavo Nurmi, Mäki broke world records over two miles5000 metres and 10,000 metres – holding the records simultaneously between 1939 and 1942.[2] Mäki was the first man to run 10,000 metres in less than 30 minutes, breaking his own world record in a time of 29:52.6 on 17 September 1939.[3]
Mäki was born in Rekola in the municipality of Vantaa. He was a shepherd by trade, earning him the nickname "Rekolan paimenpoika" (the "Rekola herdboy").[3] At a time when Finland dominated men's long-distance running, Mäki did not come to prominence until 1938. In September of that year, in what proved to be his only appearance at a major championships, he won the 5000 metres at the European Championships in Paris, beating Swede Henry Jonsson and fellow Finn Kauko Pekuri into second and third place with a time of 14:26.8.[4] On 29 September 1938, less than four weeks after winning in Paris, Mäki broke the 10,000 metres world record for the first time, beating Ilmari Salminen's old record by more than three seconds in a time of 30:02.0.[5] Mäki went on to break five world records during the following summer.[2] On 7 June he took close to three seconds off Miklós Szabó's two mile world record, running a time of 8:53.2 in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.[6] Nine days later, in the same stadium, he took over eight seconds off Lauri Lehtinen's world record over 5000 metres.[7] He followed these performances by taking close to ten seconds off his own 10,000 m world record, running 29:52.6 on 17 September.[5]
The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union broke out on 30 November 1939. Like many of his fellow Flying Finns, including Gunnar Höckert and Lauri Lehtinen, Mäki was initially deployed on the Karelian Isthmus.[2] However, along with Paavo Nurmi, he was sent on a tour of the United States in February 1940 in order to raise money for the Finnish Relief Fund. During the tour, which lasted for two months and culminated in an appearance in front of 14,000 people at Madison Square Garden, the two men raced against hand-picked American athletes. Mäki's times during the tour were well below those he had set the previous summer, the cause of which was a matter of much debate at the time.[2] Mäki's career was cut short by service in World War II. The conflict had also caused the cancellation of the 1940 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, and with it ending Mäki's hopes of representing his country at the Olympic Games.[8]


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

V 9 N. 18 Some Musings and a WW II Track Meet in Helsinki

July 3, 2019

I'm 76 years old today. Where did the time go?  We've been slowing down this year with postings in the blog but once in a while I think about it.  Today this is my birthday gift.  Watched the Prefontaine meet this past weekend held temporarily in Palo Alto.  Some good events and some good performances, but for some reason not as exciting as the sport used to be.  The Diamond League for purposes of brevity (read TV rubes can't take more than two hours of track and they like to repeat the same Nike commercial 20 times so the zombies will buy their Zoom Shoe.  There I said it.) have now dropped races of 5000 and 10,000 meters from the program.  We're going the way of NASCAR.   Instead we get a 3000m  steeplechase from both sexes and a couple of 2 mile races from the gals and guys.  Michael Norman is a stud.  Christian Coleman is one too. Did anyone notice that Justin Gatlin almost stole the show from Coleman.  He appears to have white hair on his head and in his beard?  It sure looked that way.  Whatever he has been taking to stay young, I think I would too these days.  Thank the organizer who decided not to have a mixed relay.  Although back in the old days they occasionally had a weightman's relay indoors.  They stopped doing that weightman stuff at the Chicago Sun Times meet when a behemoth went through the track in one of the turns and delayed the meet by an hour while repairs were made.   Some friends recently talked about an 8 man mile relay that was held regularly in L.A.  California high schools.  

Here's that conversation: (We're a little bit off track and field but that's our perogative.  GB

Pete Brown and I had been talking about the 1954 Rose Bowl.  I mentioned that Howard Hopalong Cassidy was the man, for Ohio State.  Pete reminded me that it was USC who they played in a rainstorm, not Oregon State.  Somehow I mentioned that I thought Jon Arnett was the best running back for USC in those days.




George,
Jon Arnett's best year was 1955---captain of team and All American for Trojans. He was born in 1935. I remember him as good in long jump. He went to Manuel Arts HS, right next to USC campus. I saw him in the LA city meet which was held on north side of Coliseum in conjunction with the Coliseum Relays. Like so many, he bolted California for Oregon later in life, tired of traffic and smog. He played for Rams and Bears in NFL. Went to pro bowl most every year.

LA City schools ran the 8 man mile relay, an event that upstaged the world famous track stars of the day. It was hilarious and everybody stood (often over 60,000) and cheered for the whole thing. Ask Roy or Dennis. Arnett ran on Manual Arts relay team. Jefferson HS would win it more often than not. There were always dropped batons and lots of physical contact. Blazing speed. That meet was so good that in the early 1950’s the LA schools snubbed the state meet. This meet had better marks than state and they had no interest in going to Fresno or anywhere else for lesser competition. They finally got over that.  


Pete,

Well said about the 8 man mile relay. They were so much fun to watch.

Jon Arnett was 6th in the California state meet in the long jump at 22’ 2 3/4 in 1952. I don’t see any state meets where an LA runner or broad jumper didn’t make it to the state finals from 1947 on. Bill Peck’s book on the state meets (1915-2006) is invaluable. You weren’t able to find a copy, Pete; were you? Apparently there has been a copy available in the past on Amazon or Abe Books, but not now. I think that John Pagliano had a copy; but he passed away about ten years ago. I don’t know what would have happened to it. His wife probably tossed it. 

When was the last major indoor or outdoor meet held in California? (Not counting the upcoming Pre meet moved from U of Oregon).  Dennis Kavanaugh


 George,
It was a stinker all right, but with USC and not Oregon State. Bucks won 20-7 over Trojans. It poured like holy hell. My dad and I went to the game and got the car stuck in the mud along with thousands of others who parked on Brookside Golf Course which is immediately north of the Rose Bowl. We did not get the car back for days, pulled out with a tow truck. Ohio State won easily. The OSU band, about 350 strong, tore hell out of the turf at half time and it was the first time we had seen Woody Hayes in person. I hated his guts, but over the years came to appreciate what a unique character he was. He was wonderful with kids, teaching them words and history and more---in the football dorm on Sunday mornings in off season. I was sad when he punched the kid from Clemson and lost his job.

It rained at least two inches during the Rose Bowl  game and us Californians were used to sunshine. Plus it was cold, at least to us pansies. Pete Brown

Pete, Woody was AD then at Ohio State.  If you ran track at OSU, the only way you could get to the NCAA meet was to win the Big Ten meet.  Otherwise Woody wouldn't let you go.  

By the way, did you know that Knute Rockne came to Notre Dame as the track coach then eventually became the football coach?  He used to take his football players to compete at the Drake Relays and helped attract big crowds to see them. He was eventually inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.


 Mondo Duplantis is  another stud and he is not even twenty years old yet.  The Brazilian shotputter, Darlan Romani, what a set of Trapezius muscles.  They are bigger than a flank steak on a bull.  Seventy-four feet, holy shazam!    
Darlan Romani


What will the Pre be like when we go back to Eugene?  Will it still have that homey comfort and closeness to the track that we had at the old Hayward Field, or will it be filled with modern conveniences, Jumbotrons, animated advertising boards going around the track like we see at the world cup soccer stadium?  And will that loud mouth British lady still be doing color commentary from the infield?  Will the fans of Eugene come back in droves?  Will they be able to fill the larger capacity stadium when the only other track stadium on the West Coast seems to hold about 7000 or 8000 people.  The Pre should have been held at Cal Berkeley.  Would have held more people, if they would have come.   Be sure to check out the crowd in Helsinki in the article below.  Of course that full house was in 1940 and there weren't many diversions to draw away the sporting public other than World War II.  

Another Cool Find in a Junk Store
Yesterday while going through my favorite second hand store in Courtenay, British Columbia, I found a WWII era German propaganda book which seized my interest, because it made  reference to track and field.  It is called  Hier Ist Suomi in Wort und Bild published in 1943 by Werner Sonderstrom Osakeyhtio.    In English , Here is Finland in Word and Picture.  Though the publication date is not specific, I think it's about 1943.   I had to look at some online history to see why the Finns are shown wearing German helmets in some military pictures in this book.  The German-USSR non-aggression pact in 1939 had left Finland wide open to Russian assault on the strategic Karelian peninsula.  The Finns as we may all know, were able to beat the Russians back in a brutal winter campaign but used up all their reserves in so doing.   So when the Germans finally prepared to go after the Russians, ignoring the old non aggression pact, the Finns were more than happy to allow some cooperation on their homefront with the Germans. They must have been re-supplied by the Germans and then allowed the Wehrmacht onto their soil to prepare for their assault on Russia.   Anyway there was a brief era of good feeling between the countries building up to the German drive East.

Forty years ago when I was posted in the US Army in Europe I remember Baltic soldiers  ie. Estonians  in my unit saying when the Russians invaded, they executed everyone in power or decision making capacity.  But when the Germans invaded, the citizens were given an option, "Fight for the Germans, or be executed.  Therefore the Germans had better public relations  in those difficult days than did the Russians.

This book promotes that sentiment in glorifing Finnish life, culture, architecture, and in this case sport. It's a classic piece of psychological warfare.  How better to let a country know you really like them and respect them and want to use their backyard as a jumping off site to kill their neighbors than to publish a nice picture book about their country?
  
Track and Field in This Turbulant Time


I never realized that when Tokyo lost the 1940 Olympic Games it was their own decision to pull out due to their entry into the Sino Japanese War in 1938.  Then Helsinki was given the 1940 games, but by then the world was too deep into WWII to go on with an Olympics.  Here is how the events unfolded per Wikipedia.

The 1940 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XII Olympiad, were originally scheduled to be held from September 21 to October 6, 1940, in TokyoJapan. They were rescheduled for HelsinkiFinland, to be held from July 20 to August 4, 1940, but were ultimately cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. Helsinki eventually hosted the 1952 Summer Olympics and Tokyo the 1964 Summer Olympics.



  • The campaign to choose a city for 1940 began in 1932, with Barcelona, Rome, Helsinki, and Tokyo participating. Tokyo city officials suggested a campaign as a means of international diplomacy following Japan's alienation from the
     League of Nations due to the Mukden Incident, in which Japan occupied Manchuria and created the puppet state of Manchukuo.
While both Tokyo officials and International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives were behind the campaign, the national government, which was ever more interested in military matters, did not have any strong supporters for such a diplomatic gesture.[1] In 1936, Tokyo was chosen in a surprise move, making it the first non-Western city to win an Olympic bid.

1930s Japan and international sports

During the 1930 Far Eastern Games in Tokyo, Indian participants were spotted flying the flag of their independence movement rather than the flag of British India. This caused a complaint from the British Olympic Association. In 1934 Japan attempted to invite European colonies to the Far Eastern Games.[2]

Forfeiture of Games

When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out on July 7, 1937, Kono Ichiro, a member of the Diet (legislature), immediately requested that the Olympics be forfeited.[4] The 1938 Far Eastern Games were also cancelled, but Japan's IOC delegates persisted under a belief that the war would soon be over.[5] Amid the intensification of the war, the feasibility of both the Summer Olympics and the 1940 Winter Olympics grew increasingly questionable to other countries, who suggested a different site be chosen and spoke of the possibility of boycotting the Games were they to proceed in Japan.[6]
In March 1938, the Japanese provided reassurances to the IOC at the organization's Cairo conference that Tokyo would still be able to serve as the host city. However, many Diet members in Japan had already openly questioned hosting the Olympics in wartime, and the military was unreasonably demanding that the organizers build the venues from wood because they needed metals for the war front.[7] In July, a legislative session was held to decide the matters of the Summer and Winter Olympics and the planned 1940 World's Fair all at once. The World's Fair was only "postponed", under a belief that Japan would be able to wrap up the war, but the Olympics could not be moved and was canceled.[8]
Kōichi Kido, who would later be instrumental in the surrender of Japan in 1945, announced the forfeiture on July 16, 1938. He closed his speech saying, "When peace reigns again in the Far East, we can then invite the Games to Tokyo and take that opportunity to prove to the people of the world the true Japanese spirit."[3] This would come to pass in 1964.
The Olympics That Never Were



How Helsinkians Coped with the Cancellation of the 1940 Olympics

In 1940 a triangular athletics meeting between Germany, Finland and Sweden was held in Helsinki.  Attached are some pictures from that meet. I'll try to translate the captions with my long dormant German. 
This is the book cover

1940 Helsinki Olympic Stadium, 12 years before it hosted the 1952 Olympics
Emil Zatopek was still learning to make shoes in the Bata factory in Czechoslovakia at this time.  

Helsinki is a sea of flags on the Mannerheimintie during the three nation competition Germany
Finland, and Sweden in 1940.  "We've got the flags, let's use them." ed. 

To date I've not found any results from this meet but will add them here when I do.
GB

A packed house for the 3 Nations Meet  5000 meters being contested. I didn't know there were that many
Finns in the world.

A closer view of those 5000 runners being led by two Finns, then two Germans, and finally two Swedes.



This looks like one of Heidi Reifenstahl's classic pictures of an Aryan male. However it is not.This is Kalevi Kotkas the Finnish record holder in the Discus and High Jump.  interesting versatility Kalevi.That's what it says in the book.  At first I thought it was Art Garfunkel of Simon and Garfunkel.



These two guys are listed as Lauri Kilima now moving into the 2 meter high jump ranks and Nils Niklen the
top European in the High Jump.  



Elsewhere there is a picture of Paavo Nurmi (see below)  on a Laenderwettmarsch,  an international competitive walk in which the winner  was determined by the number of people signed up to participate in the walk.  It doesn't say how far the walk was, but the Finns outscored the Swedes in registered walkers 1,507,111 to  943,952.  It was a walkover.    Anyway, thought you guys might find this of interest.

 





  
 Pic of Nurmi wearing madatory necktie.   Looks like Daddy Warbucks is right behind him.  Nurmi does not appearto be carrying his stopwatch anymore.

Check out Paavo's walking shoes.  Are these what were known as 'Brogues"?
  
This picture of  runner Taisto Maki notes that he was the current wartime WR holder at 10,000m.  Never heard of him but that's what it says in the book.  To me he looks like a young Lazlo Tabori.  Hey the Finns and Hungarians are linguistically related.

Here is Maki's pedigree:  Not too shabby  (from Wikipedia)
Taisto Armas Mäki (2 December 1910 – 1 May 1979) was a Finnish long-distance runner – one of the so-called "Flying Finns".[2] Like his coach and close friend, Paavo Nurmi, Mäki broke world records over two miles5000 metres and 10,000 metres – holding the records simultaneously between 1939 and 1942.[2] Mäki was the first man to run 10,000 metres in less than 30 minutes, breaking his own world record in a time of 29:52.6 on 17 September 1939.[3]
Mäki was born in Rekola in the municipality of Vantaa. He was a shepherd by trade, earning him the nickname "Rekolan paimenpoika" (the "Rekola herdboy").[3] At a time when Finland dominated men's long-distance running, Mäki did not come to prominence until 1938. In September of that year, in what proved to be his only appearance at a major championships, he won the 5000 metres at the European Championships in Paris, beating Swede Henry Jonsson and fellow Finn Kauko Pekuri into second and third place with a time of 14:26.8.[4] On 29 September 1938, less than four weeks after winning in Paris, Mäki broke the 10,000 metres world record for the first time, beating Ilmari Salminen's old record by more than three seconds in a time of 30:02.0.[5] Mäki went on to break five world records during the following summer.[2] On 7 June he took close to three seconds off Miklós Szabó's two mile world record, running a time of 8:53.2 in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.[6] Nine days later, in the same stadium, he took over eight seconds off Lauri Lehtinen's world record over 5000 metres.[7] He followed these performances by taking close to ten seconds off his own 10,000 m world record, running 29:52.6 on 17 September.[5]
The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union broke out on 30 November 1939. Like many of his fellow Flying Finns, including Gunnar Höckert and Lauri Lehtinen, Mäki was initially deployed on the Karelian Isthmus.[2] However, along with Paavo Nurmi, he was sent on a tour of the United States in February 1940 in order to raise money for the Finnish Relief Fund. During the tour, which lasted for two months and culminated in an appearance in front of 14,000 people at Madison Square Garden, the two men raced against hand-picked American athletes. Mäki's times during the tour were well below those he had set the previous summer, the cause of which was a matter of much debate at the time.[2] Mäki's career was cut short by service in World War II. The conflict had also caused the cancellation of the 1940 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, and with it ending Mäki's hopes of representing his country at the Olympic Games.[8]

Matti Jarvinen  many years world class in the javelin although
he recently lost the WR to his countryman Yrjo Nikkanen.  * Note: Matti is carrying back up spear in his long johns.  Jockstraps were banned in Nordic countries in those days.  


You may recall that during the war years in relatively peaceful Sweden,  Gundar Haag and Arne Andersson were on the cusp of breaking the four minute mile.

Call Back Starter?
Actually this is P.E. Svinhufvud 80 years old former 
President of the Republic of Finnland.  Don't mess with this guy.
His buddies call him  "Old Lefty".  
Had to add this guy who appears a little further on in the sports section of the book.
Caption to the picture follows:
"Cross country skiing was always the favorite of the Finns, but in recent years Finland has moved forward in ski jumping.  In 1941 in Cortina the winner in this discipline was a Finn, Paavo Vierto, who as a volunteer with the Waffen SS was killed in the Ukraine."   Oh boy, I'm sure that is not on the family tombstone.

Don't quote me on the historic references, I only searched briefly on Google.

Comments include:
  What an interesting German picture about their friend, Suomi.  The history of Scandinavia is peppered with threats and actual assaults of those countries by their nearby neighbor, Russia.  When we visited Denmark, Sweden, Estonia and Finland (Suomi) a few summers ago, time after time we noticed enmity with Russia.  It was best expressed in an Estonian museum where they told their history, first being conquered by Czarist Russia, followed by the same brutal treatment by the Soviet USSR.  When the Germans (Nazis) finally came they were seen as liberators from this Russian brutality so they were actually welcomed.  In other words an enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Finland remained faithful to Germany throughout WW II, hence this favorable book by the Nazis.  Finland receive considerable worldwide criticism on that matter, even today, but still think the less brutal side was Germany.  The UN prevented Soviet invasion of much of Scandinavia after the war but was unable to protect Baltic countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, and a few others which became soviets in the USSR.  Our Swedish friends worry about Russia and said they thought Sweden could hold off Russia for nine days, then would be overcome unless the rest of NATO came to their aid. 

   Germany invaded Russia on June 22, 1941, the day my parents got married.  Germany and Japan had signed a strange alliance so when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the US declared war on Japan and then Germany declared war on the US and the fight was on.  Even today Russia takes major credit for defeating the Nazis and since their casualties were many times ours, they have a point.  Russia considers the US minor players in WW II and the US considers Russia to be minor players in that same war, so I guess you write up the war any way you want.  None of the Allies trusted Russia so one the war was over they divided up Berlin into four sections and the Cold War immediately started.  
   Bill Schnier                             


One of our readers who wishes to remain anonymous, noted that he ran in lane five on this track in a 440 yards not meters in 1960.   


I share your thoughts about the future of the Pre meet.  Only went to one about ten years ago and loved it-great atmosphere.  Did go to its predecessor in 1960 .  Went down to Eugene by bus from Vancouver BC to watch Harry Jerome run.  Agree that the DL has lost its lustre.  It may be something to do with advancing age ( mine not the meets).  Glad to see the return of the blog.  Long may it reign.
 
Some of your comments about odd additional events being run during track meets took me back to 1950s at White City in London.  I recall that at times they had a Tug of War and that it was usually won by an outfit called Wimpey London Airport ( I think a construction company).  We were also treated to 5 mile walking races-often getting a new world record.  Another unusual item was a Paarlauf-which I seem to remember was a distance race with teams of two alternating at different intervals and I distinctly recall Steeplechase Olympic medallist John Disley being involved.  I mentioned some time ago about the ill-conceived idea of having fireworks tied to the Hammer during night meets with the lights turned off. ( not advisable).
 
Best wishes to you.
 
Regards.
 
Geoff

Geoff,  your mention of Paralauf (substitue run? Ger.)  reminds me of a South African telling me about a 3 mile relay race they held  on the track.  Only two runners on the team, and they could run any distance for their relay leg, so long as the team covered 12 laps of the track.  The most effiicient way of doing that proved to be the first runner going 330 yards, handing off, then jogging back 110 yards and taking the hand off from the second runner and continuing that way.  Also made for a tough workout.    George


Friday, May 17, 2019

V 9 N. 17 A Few More Musings: on An old poster, the dieing Relay Meets, Matt Boling




Hey,  in 1938, how many six packs of Foster's would it take to get you to take off your clothes and pose with your wife's pie plate?  
Thanks to Ned Price for sending this to us.

Lest we forget, Leni Reifenstahl got Glenn Morris, the 1936 Olympic decathlon champ,  to strike a similar pose for her Olympia film.  She was said to be having an affair with him at the time.  This chap is probably off some sheep station in the Outback.

Here we are already after briefly noting this morning the lack of action on this blog.  Now two postings in one day.  We ain't dead yet.

Other musings.  I watched the World Relay Championships with feigned interest and was monumentally bored.  It was worse than NASCAR, and the mixed events were even worse.   Maybe and this is a big maybe, the mixed relays might be a tad more interesting at the end of the Olympics or World Championships when teams are made up from medallists in the individual events with north - south or east - west team competition like the old World Cup.   Just doesn't look like that much fun.  Maybe if they had to jump over flaming pits of oil or get chased by uncaged tigers?  But then that would be like the Roman Colisseum, and that would bring on the final decline and fall of western and eastern and southern civilization.  Nothing compares to the  college relays which are sadly and rapidly dieing as college dual meets did years ago with the chase for NCAA qualifying times all but taking away the glamour of Texas, Kansas, Mt. Sac,  Penn and Drake.  The Big 12 and SEC held a relays competition on the same weekend as Penn and Drake and drew many big teams away as did a relays meet in Florida.    Conversations from a few friends below show a common sentiment.  


George,

I’m very disappointed in what happened to the three most exciting events of our college careers. The other events that really stuck in my memory (which means that it was a big deal) are the Big 8 Championships and the OU Dual. Drake was my favorite, the announcer knew everybody and gave a play by play during the races. Kansas is terrible now, Kansas is the only major university competing at the Kansas Relays. The college relay times are really slow. 

Texas Relays is really boring, each event has 10 sections or so and it takes forever to get the meet over. Saturday used to be a 2 hour competition packed event with college relay followed by University and the colleges were outstanding, Southern, Texas Southern and Grambling put on a show. 

Tom, Jimmy, David and I would talk about the two mile relay and our goals everyday for months before we finally got the conditions and competition for our World Record at Fresno. 

Drake times were always faster than Penn but it was because the Penn Track was terrible. We ran at Penn in 1964 and Hig tried to talk us into going back in 1966 to get revenge on Villanova but we told him “no”. John Perry



 I agree with John Perry.  Drake and Penn were fabulous meets, loaded with outstanding performances and supported by huge and enthusiastic crowds.  The track crowds are not plentiful enough for every school to have a major meet, but when there is one or more already established, the track community needs to embrace it and support it.  Penn still got a good crowd but because the competition was so mediocre, I doubt if that support will continue.  Filling in at both Drake and Penn are the professionals because the college teams are just not present but the pros just do not have a following and there is no sense of rivalry such as OU vs. OSU.  As usual, our downfall is usually not from without but within.
   Bill Schnier


  Dual or tri mets are the best.  Think about other sports:  Army vs. Navy.  Ohio State vs. Michigan.  Florida vs. Florida State.  USC vs. UCLA.  For 10 years we had the best of all worlds with the Southern Ohio Cup:  Cincinnati, Miami, Ohio.  A team in black, a team in red, a team in Green.  It was scored combined men and women.  The intensity was electric.  At first the athletes assumed they would get no marks because there were not many teams, but at the end of the year many if not most of the seasonal bests came from that meet for all the teams.  It did not last past 10 years because Ohio dropped men's track and Miami cut half their scholarships.  Back to large invitationals because we had lost our rivals.

Dear Will and Friends:

I feel rewarded to see so many people attending the Penn Relays!
It's the only place other than Hayward Field at U of Oregon that
is contested to a relatively full house.
I think that the 10,000 to 20,000 Jamaicans that fly up to watch their high school, college and Olympic
athletes compete helps out a lot. 
I  am not particularly fond of their USA vs. the world format. But, hey it, seems to be a winning formula.
Did you notice that the guys holding the finish tape - stood a yard back of the finish line so as not to interfere with the electronic Timing Cameras? 

Also, While I still remember the 3  lanes inside the main track, but, I had never seen them use these three lanes for relay events before, which required
teams in those lanes breaking out for the pole after using up their staggers,  With the teams in the outside lanes breaking for the pole and teams on the inside
lanes breaking out foir the pole, I was surprise that no one got pinched off or squeezed out! Yikes! It seemed to me that they used those extra 3 lanes for straightaway events like the100M Dash and the Hurdles! ????  

I love seeing Renaldo "Skeets" Neimiah being interviewed. Did any of you pick up on where he is coaching?

Do any of you know how many Jamaicans actually now attend.
I  heard the 20,000 figure 4-5 years ago.

As for The  Drake Relays, the small market that Des Moines offers and the shitty weather
really dampens attendance there.
When I competed at Drake for Western Michigan in 1959 thru 1961 we only had one year of snotty-rainy weather,  in 1960.
If it were not for the USATFF Contact with NBC/NBCSN Drake would disappear into the corn fields.

PS: Anecdote  from Drake Relays circa 1959 or1960.
      I remember that Charlie Greene, who was at the top of the sprint world back then, thought he had discovered the anecdote
      for signing autographs. I was next to him at the base of the stands signing a couple of autographs
     (even though I was an unknown). Well,  there was Charlie hauling out a rubber stamp & stamp pad & began stamping his autograph on eager kids programs!
     I remember some kids being turned off by Charlie's audacity! You had to laugh!

As for the ACC and SE Conference teams, etc. It is what it is. you can't blame them for staying close to home and performing in warmer more predictable weather.
(Aside from potential for tornado's)

I, too, deeply miss the days, now long gone, where teams had budgets that allowed for a full schedule of dual meets!
I was fortunate to be part of a WMU team that defeated mighty Big Ten Champs in a dual meet.
About 3,000 students attended that meet. They went crazy when we slammed the 3 mile, led my Jerry Ashmore and them won the mile relay!

John Bork

WMU Class of 1961

And finally  How about Matt Boling of Houston Strake Jesuit running 44.74 on a 4x400 in Texas?  He also has a 9.98 wind aided 100 meters.  The real deal?  We think so. 

Matt Boling

V 9 N. 20 A New Record in the Women's Mile and a Book Review

I hope you were able to watch Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands set a new World Record in the women's mile in Monaco this past Friday.  ...