Friday, October 16, 2020

V 10 N. 72 Remembering Charlie Moore Olympic Gold 1952 400IH R.I.P.

Walt Murphy brought this news to our attention on his blog This Day in Track and Field.
The notes below are from Olympedia. Charlie Moore Biographical information Medals OG Gold 1 Silver 1 Bronze 0 Total 2 Type Competed in Olympic Games Sex Male Full name Charles Hewes "Charlie"•Moore, Jr. Used name Charlie•Moore Born 12 August 1929 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania (USA) Died 8 October 2020 in Laporte, Pennsylvania (USA) Measurements 185 cm / 77 kg Affiliations NYAC, New York (USA) NOC(s) United States Biography As a high hurdler, Charles “Crip” Moore, Sr. went to Paris in 1924 as an alternate on the Olympic team. In 1952, 28 years later, his son, Charlie Moore, Jr. enjoyed far greater success at the Olympics when he won the 400m hurdles and ran a 46.3 relay leg for the team that took the silver medals behind Jamaica. After prepping at Mercersburg Academy, Moore won the NCAA 440y flat for Cornell in 1949 and the 220y low hurdles in 1951. He won the AAU 440y hurdles four years straight from 1949 and was unbeaten in his 23 races as an intermediate hurdler. After the 1952 Olympics, at meets in London, he twice posted a world record for the 440y hurdles within the space of five days, leaving it at 51.6. Moore finished second in the balloting for the Sullivan Award in 1952. He was world ranked #1 in the 400 hurdles in 1949, 1951, and 1952, and was in the top 10 of the open 400 three times, ranking #5 in 1949 and 1951. Moore went into the business world and became managing director of Peers & Co., an investment banking firm, and was then CEO of Peers Management Resources, in management consulting. He then served as vice-president of Advisory Capital Partners, an investment advising company. Moore was athletic director at Cornell from 1994-99 and served as president of the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletics of America (IC4A) starting in 1999. He was later Chairman of the Institute for Sustainable Value Creation, serving as executive director of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) from the organization’s founding in 1999 through 2013. In 2008, CR (Corporate Responsibility) Magazine recognized him as the Non-Profit & NGO CEO of the Year and gave him its Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy award in 2013. Personal Bests: 400 – 46.7y (1949); 400H – 50.7 (1952). Results Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Details 1952 Summer Olympics Athletics 400 metres Hurdles, Men Olympic 1 Gold Representing United States 4 × 400 metres Relay, Men Olympic United States 2 Silver Olympic Records Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition. Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos 1952 Summer Olympics 20 July 1952 Athletics 400 metres Hurdles, Men Quarter-Finals, Heat One 50.8 1 1952 Summer Olympics 21 July 1952 Athletics 400 metres Hurdles, Men Final 50.8 1 1952 Summer Olympics 26 July 1952 Athletics 4 × 400 metres Relay, Men Round One, Heat Two 3:11.67 1 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ This report from Charlie Moore, 1952 Olympic gold medalist who went on to become athletic director at Cornell University, is shown at the school in 1996. By The Associated Press Charlie Moore, the 400-meter hurdles champion at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, has died. He was 91. Moore died Thursday from pancreatic cancer, according to World Athletics. Cornell University also confirmed the passing of the school’s former athletic director and star athlete. Moore won the 400 hurdles in the rain in 1952 in 50.8 seconds to tie the Olympic record he set in the quarterfinals. Moore also earned a silver medal in Helsinki on the United States' 1,600-meter relay team. After the Olympics, he set a world record of 51.6 in the 440 hurdles at the British Empire Games in London. Charles Moore Jr. grew up in Pennsylvania and was a standout at Mercersburg Academy before going on to Cornell. He was inducted into Cornell’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978 and the USA Track and Field Hall in 1999. Moore donated his two Olympic medals to Mercersburg Academy. “I couldn’t figure out how you divide two medals among nine children,” Moore said in a recent interview posted on the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee website. “Mercersburg gave me my start and they’ll be there for everybody to see, including my children.” Moore went on to become a successful business executive, investment fund manager, athletics administrator and later an author and philanthropist. His father, Charles “Crip” Moore Sr., was an alternate as a hurdler for the U.S. in the 1924 Paris Olympics. “My father was the one whose idea it was I should make the Olympic team. He was my best friend, also my mentor and also the guy who pushed the hell out of me,” Moore told the USOPC website. “I loved it. He’d say, ‘Charlie I want you do to this,’ and I would say, ‘Yes, sir.’” Moore helped pioneer a 13-step approach to the hurdles, which is used today. Kevin Young set the longstanding 400-meter hurdles record in 1992 with his time of 46.78 seconds. Information on services for Moore will be announced later.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

V 10 N. 71 Tony Blue R.I.P.

Here Tony Blue seen finishing a close second to Herb Elliott in an 880. Noting the recent passing of Australian Middle Distance Runner Tony Blue, Age 84. Mr. Blue was 3rd in the 1962British Empire and Commonwealth Games 880 behind Peter Snell and George Kerr. He ran in two Olympics getting as far as the semis in the 800 meters at Rome in 1960. This information was found at Australian Distance Running Nostalgia by Trevor Vincent.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

V 10 N. 70 Steve Smith, first over 18 feet indoors R.I.P.

 Russ Reabold of Trojan Force noted the passing of pole vaulter Steve Smith a few days ago.

Steve Smith

b. November 24, 1951  Long, CA

d. September 23, 2020  San Clemente, CA

The following story appeared in the San Clemente Times August 2,  2012, writer Steve Breazele.

by Steve Breazeale

When San Clemente resident Steve Smith sits down to tell someone of his Olympic past, he starts it with a preface.

“I’m not a warm and fuzzy Olympic story,” said Smith, a longtime San Clemente real estate agent.

In his athletic career, Smith set state records in the pole vault in high school at South Torrance, tore through the collegiate competition while at Long Beach State, earned a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 21, cleared for the first time the then-fabled 18-foot mark indoors and represented the USA in the 1972 Olympics. He was a professional track and field star and is remembered by his outspoken style and massive jumps on big stages.

The ’72 Munich games may be best known by the tragic murder of Israeli team members by terrorists known as Black September. But for Smith, the games were the place where his Olympic dreams started, and ended, in controversy.Due to a last-minute ban on the poles the Americans and vaulters from several other countries were using, Smith was forced to compete on older, heavier poles he was not accustomed to and finished in 18th place.The process in which the International Association of Athletics Federations, the track and field governing body, laid down the ban is as twisted and convoluted as can be.Smith and his fellow pole-vaulting teammates, which included 1968 gold medalist Bob Seagren, had already qualified for the event by way of the Olympic Trials on poles that were slightly lighter than their traditional counterparts. The game was changing, and Smith and vaulters around the world were looking for lighter poles that could still hold their weight.“It’s like the difference in fishing poles. If you’re going to catch a marlin, you’re going to bring a heavy rod…If you’re going to catch a trout, you’re bringing a little, flexible rod,” Smith said. “(What these poles did) was make it like a trout rod and give it the flex and response of a marlin rod.”When the issue was brought to the IAAF’s attention just weeks before the games, the group immediately banned the poles. An appeal was eventually made, claiming that the poles were not carbon fiber and the governing body granted the appeal, reversing its decision. When the Americans showed up for the games there was grumbling out of the East German contingent that the poles used by Smith and Seagren were illegal and made out of carbon fibers.After they had won their appeal, Smith and his teammates thought they were good to go, until another sucker punch arrived the night before Olympic competition. The IAAF had once again reversed its decision, this time claiming that no new equipment could be used that wasn’t available to the general public six months prior to the start of the Olympics. The federations deemed the Americans poles as new equipment.

“They just took the poles at the games for no reason and said, ‘That’s a newer design’… They just took these poles away arbitrarily,” Smith said.

The next day, the pole vault competition got underway.

“We had no backup poles…I had a short-run pole that you use to run half the length of the runway…It’s much, much weaker. So that’s what I ended up having to jump on,” Smith said. “I ran from a 50-foot run-up instead of 130 feet and jumped 15 feet 9 inches…It was a disaster.”

Seagren actually found a replacement pole that was good enough to vault him to a silver medal. After his final jump, Seagren searched out then IAAF President Adrian Paulen, walked up to him, handed him his pole and walked away.

“You work your a– off since you were a little tiny kid…And here’s your dream, like a big golden door going to heaven or something and you open the door and go down a hallway,” Smith said. “But every time you open a door, there was a big, nightmarish monster leaping out the door…then you open another and ‘Here comes another one’…and you’re thinking to yourself, this is impossible, this can’t be happening.”

Smith may not have enjoyed the Olympics, for obvious reasons, but he recalled bright spots, like when he would sneak in the back door of an Olympic Village convenience store after hours to grab soda and candy bars for the shot put team. The combination of caffeine, carbonation and sugar was apparently a secret weapon employed by the American throwers.

Aside from his own predicament in ‘72, there was also the terrorist attack.

“We were all rattled to death. (Our situation) was a miniscule thing compared to the Israelis and the terrorists,” Smith said.

Smith would qualify for another Olympiad in 1980, this time as an alternate. But politics got in the way, and the U.S. team boycotted the entire competition in Moscow.

The let down at the ’72 games acted as a springboard for Smith’s career. He rededicated himself to his sport and put together the best stretch of his career. He was the first man ever to clear the 18-foot indoor mark achieved at Madison Square Garden in 1973, was ranked No. 1 in the world in the pole vault, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, set several world records and won a cross country national championship with Cal State Long Beach.

“The biggest (motivation) was going out and making amends for having the rug yanked out from under me at the Olympics,” Smith said.

It might not be a “warm and fuzzy” Olympic story, but its Steve Smith’s story to tell.

Follow UP

There is some footage of the polevault event on the official Olympic film for Munich 1972 in which you  can see Steve's frustration, throwing his pole.  if you go to the link below and move the timer to ( 23 minutes)       of the film you, will see some excellent footage, although the film director choses not to have any dialogue.   (Thanks to Geoff Williams for telling me about this film and where to find it.)

This film was made by 8 famous film directors covering different aspects of the games. It is not for one who is a stickler for detail and statistics.  There is not much commentary, and when there is, it is not from the pages of the sports section of your local newspaper.   All the of offical olympics films are available at this site,

For Munich you will need to go to the 23 minute mark to see the polevaulting section.  Remember, this is not your typical training loop film, it is from the artsy, fartsy world.  George Brose 

Munich 1972 Olympic Film Visions of Eight

This just was added by Joe Rogers,  former Ball State head  and West Point asst coach.



This article is great.   I wanted to relate a couple of things about the story.   George Moore who invented the Browning Arms SKY POLE in the mid-60s was the developer of the Carbon Fiber poles


George was an engineer working for the Browning Arms Company when he developed the Sky Pole for them.   When he has some good idea’s about improving the vaulting poles, Browning did not want to

Do it because they were satisfied with the Sky Pole Business.


Moore left them and started his own company called “CataPole” from Cosa Mesa Nevada.  The Cata Pole took over a lot of the Sky Pole Business due to the fact the George was the vaulters friend.  He was always helpful to all athletes and coaches in understanding the nature of pole selection for the athlete.   The story of the 72 games evolved when his scientific mind came up with the carbon fiber pole which he called the Green CataPole.   He produced a green pole with these caracteristics in early 70’s.  When the controversy came up he offered to supply all the world’s best vaulters with the pole as the 72 games were approaching, but the eastern block countries objected and the Munich games were very influenced by the Communist countries.  If you remember the pole vault was won by Wolfgang Nordwig an East German.


In 1969, I was a young beginning high school coach who had a pretty good HS high jumper, named Gary Cameron.  He had a best of 6’ 6.5” with the straight leg Straddle Roll.  He  jumped against Tony Wilson at the Ohio State Meet.  Tony was Nancy Wilson’s brother. Nancy the noted singer.


Gary got invited to compete at the Golden West in Sacramento in that spring in’69.   It was the greatest High School meet I had ever attended.  Prefontaine won the mile at 4:05, Freddy Richardson in a dead heat won the 2 Mile at 8:55.  It was a great last lap as 2 athlete battled to the finish line.   The 100 yds. Was won at 9.3 with a false start and on dirt.  In the pole vault, Steve Smith was second at 16’ 6 (I beiieve)

as Casey Carrigan won over 17’.


Lots of memories. Sometime I’ll have to tell you the story of Zach Gillan, who won thetriple jump over 50’.  I finally encounterd Zach as a baker in the mess hall at West Point.


Anyway I digress.  Delighted in your article.  Joe Rogers

Right after, this came in from Mike Solomon


Sorry to hear about the passing of Steve Smith.
Last I heard years ago that he was in real estate up in Oregon.
I knew him in high school and he first went to SC.
Later transferred into Long Beach State ( along with his UCLA  pal, Dwight Stones).
They came to Long Beach as I was just leaving to go overseas.
Later met Steve at a meet in Arhaus, Denmark and vividly remember him carrying about ten poles chasing the meet promoter into the parking lot for not giving him the money to appear!
Forwarded the article to my KU team mate, Jan Johnson. In the 72' olympics Jan placed 3rd but can't remember whose pole he had to borrow when the olympic committee banned the yanks from using their poles? Could have  been one of our decathlon athletes?
Mike Solomon

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

V 10 N. 69 Reflections on Another Track Program Biting the Dust

 Over the past few weeks, I've received several notices about the University of Minnesota dropping their track program.  There have been some impassioned pleas to find ways of keeping it as well as condemnations from former Golden Gopher athletes and track coaches from other universities.  Here is my way of looking at the problem.  Nothing new here but gives me a chance to vent on the age of cost cutting provoked in part by our little virus that is altering life around the world.  Who would have thought a year ago that something we cannot see under a light microscope would have brought us to our knees in this world?

Here are my thoughts as a former college track athlete (U. of Oklahoma 1965), coach  (Wittenberg U. and U. of Dayton), and current track blogger. (Once Upon a Time in the Vest).

We all know what the problem is, but we just don't want to admit it or see it through all the smoke and mirrors.  We are parties to the corporate, capitalist phenomenon of growth as the only measure of success. 

Today our institutions and university programs are bloated with administrators, admin assistants, advisors, compliance advisors, security, government compliance officers, consultants,  and that has been  passed on down to all university departments including intercollegiate athletics which is of course living under the curse of win at all costs, and costs be damned.  The university president is often judged by the success of the football team rather than the rest of the university 'mission'.   George L. Cross, president of Oklahoma University in the 1960's once tongue in cheek said,  "I want to build a university our football team can be proud of."  He was not far from the truth.

  Coaching staffs are bloated in all sports.  In track and field it is somewhat accurate that for success, one  has to specialize in a single area of coaching  jumping, polevaulting,  throwing, sprinting, hurdling, middle distance, or  distance, and God knows whatever 'directors of operations' do.  We chase qualifying times by sending athletes and their hand-maiden coaches to events all over the country on any given weekend.  There is a team effort only at the conference meets and the NCAA regionals and nationals.

  Recruiting and having the fanciest equipment, dressing rooms , weight rooms, training rooms, tutors, sports psychologists, dining halls,   and athletic villages have driven budgets into the stratosphere ( sorry, old terminolgy).    It's all about winning as a team and to have a team you have to have a bunch of extremely talented individuals, and the pool is narrow and shallow from which to recruit.   

No one likes to hear about the 'old days' but those programs were managed with a skeleton crew of a head coach, and a grad assistant, and maybe one retiree coach who hung on 'til he died.   Yes, many of us had to coach ourselves, because the sport was too broad and the coaches had limited knowledge, and almost  zero scientific knowledge.    In basketball, a team had a head coach, and an assistant who also coached the freshman team.  The head coach probably had one other person to do everything else including writing the checks and organizing the team trips.   I won't even attempt to classify all the jobs in the modern Sports Information departments which used to be a one person operation with perhaps an administrative assistant that we used to call a secretary.

Today, any one sports program is bigger in personnel than a whole athletic department was at one of the major universities in the 1960s.  

Going to university on your own cost about 20 per cent of a working class family's budget for a year.  It was almost doable for a family with one kid in college provided he or she had a job to help pay costs. 

Today, If your family is working class earning about 40K, a kid is doomed to community college and working half time to get to school.  No time for sports.    One thing that needs to be re-iterated is many of those families with kids in country club sports are fairly wealthy and they are paying full tuition to send their kid to a school to study and compete in golf, swimming, tennis, rowing, and maybe cross country/track, so there is some significant income going into the university pot from those families.  That is not the case with sports dominated by African American kids' families if they are coming from low income homes. 

So we may be at a turning point in college sport.  I believe Covid has sent us past the tipping point, and a major re-evaluation will need to be done in how we approach sport at the university level.  This was beginning to  happen even before Covid.    I think in five years we may not recognize college athletics, based on today's experience.   I do not believe that administrators in power will  voluntarily cut back on their own earnings, but they will cut back on others' by total elimination of positions or programs.  Budgets will decrease to within reason,  but those employees who are still around will still be overpaid.   We all know that there are only one or two states in the country where the highest paid public official is not a football or basketball coach.  I think North Dakota is one of a few.   I don't think that will change.  We are too ingrained with that culture.  If it ain't bigger, it cain't be better.

Agree with all your comments. Gary Wilson at U of Minnesota ran for me at Cortland, so I’m fully aware of that situation. I’d have leaned heavier on football and over administrative costs. Weren’t we luck we lived in a time when we played sports for fun and no cost. ?  Dave Costill


Hope you are fine.. Enjoyed reading your latest column on the blog about the state of college athletics.
Personally I'd prefer to see the entire system crash and copy the European clubs. Having athletics and academics together is a perfect recipe for disaster with cheating and corruption. Starts in little league and pop warner football, continues into high school and is compounded when it reaches the college level.
It's a total money losing proposition  and relies solely on asking alumni for constant support and contributions.
The club system isn't perfect but much better than our current college state of affairs. The court ruling years ago against the AAU and supporting the NCAA in retrospect just compounding today's situation.
I lived overseas for many years and joined a club. Some are political, religious,
companies, military police , city or regional etc.... You need to sign a card right off and once it's signed you're signed a contract that binds you to that respective organization. Not like the American system where high schoolers can play at a different high school every year and not be penalized, or college athletics transferring at a whim with to valid reason and leaving coaches wondering why everything has gone sideways.
In a club the only way to switch to another club your card must be agreed by both clubs and usually a fair way to both the respective club and the athletes.
The U.S. can easily change into a club system with the infrastructure already in place. I see american football as possibly the only major problem but all other sports  ( namely soccer track, basketball, tennis, ice hockey, baseball, swimming etc.) already having  clubs. Perhaps the next U.S. administration  appoint a new sports czar to direct such a change in our sports system. Something  that would look at sports for children all the way to our professional level.
If I would have done it all over again I would have joined a club right out of high school and paid my own for attending college. Perhaps even run for a club overseas?
Yes, looking at the current college situation during the covid 19 disaster has affecting all sports. Likely to cut all minor sports and the firing of all coaches and administrators. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

V 10 N. 68 Passing of Mel Hein Jr. and Gayle Sayers R.I.P.


Two men who influenced track and field a bit, one more than the other, passed away recently.

The first was Mel Hein Jr.  a former USC Trojan and world record holder in the polevault at 16' 5 3/4" .

Here is an obituary on Mel Hein Jr. from the Los Angeles Times  July 9, 2020 by Eric Sondheimer.

Mel Hein Jr., Obituary

Thanks so much for this. I knew Mel well when he and I were Striders.
One of the finest men I’ve known!
Best regards 
John Bork

        Gayle Sayers in his more familiar role

The other recent passing  was that of Gayle Sayers, and you may wonder why we mention an NFL legend.  Well, it's because Gayle Sayers ran track at the University of Kansas, and though he was not an All-American in that sport he was still an active participant who showed the way to many others when he competed.  He was so good in football that he didn't have to run track, but he did.  In high school in Omaha, Nebraska, he led the nation in the long jump going over 24 feet in 1961.   His brother, Roger Sayers, was a very good sprinter for the U. of Omaha, and represented the United States in several international meets.

                                   Gayle Sayers Jumping in High School

In 1964 while at the University of Kansas, Sayers led the Big 8 indoor standings in the long jump, 60 yards, and 60 hurdles.  Unfortunately at the Big 8 indoor championships he had a bad night and did not win any of those events.  But to me the highlight of that indoor season was when my Oklahoma Sooners went up to Lawrence, Kansas for our annual dual meet.  The Sooners had a very controversial All American football player in Joe Don Looney, who to avoid spring football, decided to run track, both indoors and outdoors that year.  He had led the nation in punting in the 1963 football season and was the star running back on the Sooner team.  He weighed 220 pounds and was our top sprinter that indoor season.  Big into weightlifting as well and some would say even   bigger in egocentricity.   So there was a lot of pre-race publicity about  Joe Don and Gayle the two All Americans going head to head in the 60 that night.  A much larger than usual crowd showed up that weekday evening to see the  two go at it.  As a miler, running a lot of dual meets I wasn't used to seeing a lot of people come into the arena to watch our team compete, so I was really getting fired up for my race which would follow immediately after the Looney-Sayers race, which was the first or second event of the night.  

The two grid stars were lined up side by side in the middle of the track.  The people in the stands all got quiet and seemed to be holding their collective breath as the starter's pistol was raised.  The gun went off, and Sayers left Looney sitting in the dust looking more like a steam locomotive trying to get going while Don Garlits in his Double A fuel dragster burned rubber all the way down the track..  It was no contest.  The Kansas crowd cheered and then went home.  They had only come to see Looney get whipped by Sayers.  I was in the next event, and suddenly I realized that no one had come to see the mile run or the rest of the meet for that matter.  They had to get back to their studies or to the pubs.  It was quite a let down, but still that night I ran my personal best mile indoors although I was edged out by one of a string of  Kansas milers who took turns  beating me over the years.  

George, I ran my personal best in the Indoor 880 that night too.  But the highlight of the night was not the 60 yard race itself.  It was the moment Sayers and Looney stepped out from under the stands after taking their sweats off, and the crowd saw Looney’s physique, and a loud awed moan erupted from the stands as they saw what he looked like in track togs. He did weights big-time before it was fashionable, and you must remember that build.  There were no others like him in those days.  But Sayers dusted him pretty good that night.   Walt Mizell  

It should be remembered that Mr. Mizell set a Fog Allen Field House 880 record that night which stood until a youngster named Ryun took it down with a world indoor record on that same track.  The vertical support beams came straight down along the inside lane of the track, so a guy running fast could not lean over even an inch or he would bang his head on them.  The track in that fieldhouse is gone but the beams are still there and can be seen when you go through the sports museum under the stands.  

On that same trip we stayed near a YMCA and Looney wanted to go over there and see their weight room.  We ended up playing pool next to the weight room and for some reason Looney banged his pool cue into the door going into the room and some behemoth came out in a show of strength to see what the noise was all about.  He made some threats and Looney stood up to him and said that "size isn't everything in a fight."   The big dude asked him who he was, and Looney told him his name.  The guy didn't say anything, did an about face, walked back in the weight room and politely shut the door.  George Brose

If you care to read a bit more about Gayle Sayers and the recruiting process to get him to Kansas, that can be seen on the link below.  One of the interesting little side lights was when Sayers went to visit the University of Iowa, he never met the head coach of the football team, because he was too busy hosting Henry Carr that weekend.  Carr ended up going to Arizona State, not playing football, and winning the 200 meters gold medal in Tokyo in 1964.

by Dick Chatelain,  The Omaha World

Joe Don Looney

A Looneyism

George, there are a number of good things when you note the passing of the men and women who led the way for us.  Among them are:

The great human interest stories.

The humor that existed midst all that competition.

The photos of dirt and cinder tracks that bring back so many memories.

The pride in knowing that we participated with and against some great athletes.

You do good work, George.

Take care,

Tom Coyne

Thanks, George,


Those are two fine stories.  I remember that Joe Don Looney played briefly for the Detroit Lions back in the mid-1969s.  The coach asked him to carry a play into the huddle for the quarterback to call and he refused, saying something to the effect that he wasn’t “an errand boy.”  The Lions got rid of him shortly afterward, although he had some good runs for them.




Bruce Geelhoed

Following is a note from my college roommate, Mike Hewitt.

George, you may not (may not, most certainly not) recall, but in the OU/KU winter indoor meet at Lawrence, I beat Sayers! We were in lanes right next to each other. The gun goes off, and he is creating a gap between us rather rapidly. He hits the first or second hurdle and I "zoom" right by him. Zoom is a relative term.

My other claim to fame is holding the Oklahoma 300 meter intermediate hurdles record. An Olympic event was being altered from 200 meter low hurdles to 400 meter intermediate hurdles. As a transition, the intercollegiate event was 300 meter intermediate hurdles for a year. I was the best hurdler we had that year, so I held and still hold the record.

For the briefest period of time I think it was acknowledged in a flashy promotion piece put out for a new coach. It has now been expunged from any recognition consideration!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

V 10 N. 67 "With the Wind: Finding Victory Within" by Sam Chelanga , Reviewed by Paul O'Shea

 The Story of Sam Chelanga, Kenyan and American


By Paul O’Shea


Book Review


With the Wind:

Finding Victory Within

By Sam Chelanga

Morgan James Publishing

114 pp., $13.75


I’m always interested in books about runners and coaches. Recently, two entries came on the scene, Born to Coach by the self-important Bill Squires, and the well worth your credit card number Running the Dream by marathoner Matt Fitzgerald.


A third entry came into view a short time ago: With the Wind: Finding Victory Within, the autobiography of Sam Chelanga, one of the accomplished Kenyan runners who have had an impact on American distance running in the past two decades.


Sam Chelanga won back-to-back NCAA cross country titles in Terre Haute, setting the still standing LaVern Gibson course record of 28:41.2 in 2009. On the track he won the collegiate 10,000, also in record time. After gaining U.S. citizenship, he represented this nation in the 2017 World Cross Country Championships, finishing a creditable 11th, the first American.


Chelanga, whose brother Joshua finished third in the 2001 Boston Marathon, was a Paul Tergat discovery in 1990s Kenya. When Fairleigh Dickinson University offered the young runner an athletic scholarship, Tergat played a key role in getting the Kenyan out of Nairobi and into the United States.


A visa snafu almost kept Sam Chelanga at home. After his fourth attempt to contact the U.S. Embassy failed, he asked the two-time Olympic bronze medalist for help. Tergat called the U.S. Embassy and successfully lobbied for his protégé. Chelanga boarded a plane out of the country and a few days later, representing Fairleigh, won an invitational at Van Cortlandt Park.


That first cross country season in America was an athletic success, as he placed 16th in NCAA Division One at LaVern Gibson, a venue he would continue to find profitable.  But Chelanga was unfulfilled at Fairleigh. Despite his achievements, “I found what I thought I wanted, but there was still a vacancy for happiness. Happiness did not lie where I thought it had.” At the indoor nationals he met Liberty University’s Josh McDougal and it was a university-changing event.


McDougal had won the NCAA individual cross country crown a few months earlier. The Kenyan transferred to Liberty, and in the 2008 cross nationals, Chelanga finished second, five seconds behind Galen Rupp. The next two years Chelanga won the national championship he’d been targeting since he was a freshman. All three victories by McDougal and Chelanga were under the direction of Liberty’s Brant Tolsma. Before leaving Lynchburg, Virginia and turning pro, the author won four national cross country and track titles.


Chelanga devotes a chapter to his national collegiate 10,000 record, and the workout that almost prevented him from the mark. Stanford’s Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational is an early-season focus for distance runners. Looking to beat the American record Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar asks Chelanga to pace Rupp. Despite suffering from an injured foot, Chelanga’s a supporting player to Oregon’s leading man. Instead, at the finish Chelanga is two seconds ahead of Rupp, runs 27:08.49, a collegiate record, but it is Chris Solinsky who captures the American record with 26:59.6.


Since becoming a citizen in 2011, Chelanga had wanted to earn a U.S. vest and compete at the world majors. His opportunity came in 2016 when he toed the line in the Olympic Trials 10,000.  Unfortunately, 90-degree Eugene heat drained him and he trailed badly in the early miles. Laps later, the temperature took its toll on his competitors. Chelanga re-groups and picks off runners. Working his way through the field he finishes sixth.  Because two runners ahead of him elect to run in other Olympic races, Chelanga is fourth, the alternate on the team.


Heat again was an enemy a year later at the World cross country in Uganda.  With three of his sisters seeing him race for the first time, he was the first American to finish at Kampala, in eleventh place.  But a Twitter message goes ass over teakettle. He posts: “I wouldn’t recommend racing in Africa.  Super thankful for eleventh place overall.” 


“Somehow,” he writes in his book, “my sarcasm was lost in translation. Instead of what I thought was just a simple social media post to say thank you and to show appreciation for a great day in Uganda, I was bombarded by negativity and hate.”


Four notable mentors and runners, Jerry Schumacher, Ben True, James Li and Scot Simmons, coached him in the professional years. Turning pro, he signed with Nike, but the pressure to perform at the elite level was daunting.  “I had a difficult time separating the life as an elite and the love of running I knew that was in me. The contract, expectations, schedules, money and all that I was supposed to live up to was overshadowing all I thought the life of an elite would be.”


He had just won the national 25 kilometer title, and finished as top American at the world half marathon. Surprisingly, he then left world class running at age 35 and turned to the military where he enlisted and became an officer at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.


With the Wind gets off to a slow start. Before his story is recounted in 114 autobiographical pages there are six pages of Advance Praise, encomiums from fellow athletes Emma Coburn, Carrie Tollefson, Molly Huddle, and LetsRun’s Jonathan Gault. Then, approval from Liberty University President Jerry Falwell (Junior).  Next are two pages each of Content, Preface, Acknowledgements, and Introduction. Finally, a single-page epigraph. That’s an 18-page tempo run just to get to the starting line. Unfortunately, I don’t believe your endurance is fully rewarded. 


While Chelanga’s book is capably written, especially when compared with the dross that emerges in much of the running canon, this reader wanted more. More rewarding would have been a deeper dive into his other races. With national records, major college wins and international meets on his resume, there are certainly stories to be told. In these pages, we find too few.


There is so much more Chelanga could tell us. What was it like to run for the elite coaches? What were the differences in training philosophies, workout schedules? The performance enhancing scourges that infected Kenyan and other world-class athletes calls out for examination and comment by the author. How does he feel about major medals won by doping athletes, the loss of income by runners who watched the tainted win accolades and bonuses? 


Yes, Sam found victory by going within, but he’s left something in the call room.



Paul O’Shea follows athletics (track and field and cross country) from Fairfax, Virginia.   

Sunday, September 6, 2020

V 10 N. 66 Duplantis beats Kendricks in a Street Fight and Farah and Hassan Break WR's in One Hour Run and Women's Half Marathon Goes As Well

Sunday September 6, 2020 

This  weekend saw two events on the continent result in an American record in the polevault, or did it?

As well  the one hour run World Records for women and men were surpassed.

Also not to be overlooked.  The women's half marathon record for races with women only was 

beaten on Sunday in Prague by Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya in 1 hour 5 min. and 35 seconds.

This surpasses the previous record set by Ethiopean Netsanet Gudeta in 1 hour 6 min. 11 seconds.

Our first report comes from Bill Schnier and Bruce Kritzler who witnessed the polevault from Lausanne on their computer or tv screens.

  I watched the Lausanne meet which was a street vault next to a viaduct in downtown Lausanne.  It was very cool with Angele Bengston from Sweden winning the women's and Mondo Duplantis edging out Sam Kendricks at 6.07 (19' 11") to 6.02 (19' 9"), the latter being a US record.  Duplantis is a US citizen from Louisiana but his mother is Swedish so he has opted to compete for Sweden.  With that in mind I guess he does not qualify as the US record holder.
   It was nice to see the entire PV competition rather than the usual final miss by Kendricks and the winning vault by Duplantis, sandwiched between lap 12 and 13 of the 10K. 
 Bill Schnier

Yeah, 2 hrs. of pole vaulting. Till the sun went down.
I was expecting a whole track meet, but most meets are focusing on a few 
Brussels (Van Damme) had the m/w 1hr. record attempts. Think they 
showed 30:00 of each, which was surprising. But Seb Coe says no one 
wants to watch a 5k/10/3ksteeple?  
Bruce Kritzler

Lausanne Polevault 2020    Here is the link to an hour and 8 minutes of that 
polevaulting competition, produced by Deportesplus.

Now on those 1 hour records.  

Mo Farah and Sifan Hassan both displayed their talent for track running and pacing.  
To go after a World Record for a given time, you have to be very aware of
your pace.  Sean Ingle of The Guardian reported on the timing lights that moved 
around the track with the runners to clue them in on what they needed to be doing.  
Farah had some pacers with him including one  from Belgium, Bashir Abdi, his training partner
     who was also racing and stayed with
him for the duration.   Haile Gebrselassie's old record was 21.285 Kilometers.  So to 
break that record Farah would need to be knocking off 67 second laps as steadily as he
could for 60 minutes.  He was up to the task covering 21.330 Kilometers, thus running
45 meters more than Gebrselassie did in his race.  

If you like doing the math, Farah ran 21,330 meters in 3600 seconds averaging 5.925 
meters per second.  That is 67.51 seconds per 400 meters.    Another way of saying it is 
53 laps and some change back to back, no recovery interval averaging 67.51 seconds.

Remember too that Farah is now 37 years old, a time when the legs start calling into 
question the rantings of the mind.

Unfortunately for Farah, he will always be carrying the stigma of his close association to Alberto
Salazar who operated as close to the edge of legality as is humanly possible.  Despite all those 
years, this is his first world record.  With four olympic golds and six world golds he has more 
than proven himself as a racer and now he is on the list as one of the best pacers of all time, 
joining Nurmi, Zatopek, Clarke and Gebrselassie in that very, very elite club.

Abdhi Gets 20km record in this race
Abdhi was in the lead at 20KM and picked up the WR in that distance at 56:20.02.
The Belgian took his national one hour record away from Gaston Roelants at 20,784 meters
and the European record from Jos Hermans who held it at 20,944 meters.

Sifan Hassan, the Hollandaise, who also has a link to the Oregon Project  showed her 
versatility as she holds the world 1500 and 10,000 meter gold medals, the indoor and 
outdoor mile records and now has the one hour record as well.  

Correction on women's mile from Richard Mach:  

Richard Mach

8:08 AM (2 hours ago)
to me
Genzebe DiBaba holds the world indoor mile record taken down in Stockholm in Feb of 2017 
when she ran 4:13.31 or .32    Because in one of her fast mile races she ran the last half in 2:02,
I suspect we're looking at PEDs.

Hassan's distance of 18.93 Kilometers gives her an average of 5.25 meters/sec. and 76.19
seconds per lap, approximately a 5:05 mile pace.   This also equates to 47 laps and some
change.  She broke Dire Tune's record  by almost 500 meters.  The old record was 18.517
kilometers.   Brigit Kosgei stayed with Hassan until the last 30 seconds of the one hour.

Farah's Race on Youtube    This youtube  is produced by  Total Running Productions 
and gives anexcellent account of the run and explanation of the technology that went into
 the performance.  It must also be remembered that Gebrselassie's recored run was more
of a solo performance.

Hassan's Race on Youtube      This youtube is produced by Start Run Stop.  Noted is the 
absence of pacing lights for the women's race.

George Brose

I had read about the great pole vault events and found the one hour race story at the same time.  That brought back some memories of one hour races at the White City track in the 1950s.  I know I saw a couple of them and if memory serves correctly Gordon Pirie may well have been one of the runners.  I am unable to find any record of it-so maybe the old memory aint what it used to be.  This led to another One Hour run that I remember clearly and have looked up and verified the details.  It was in 1953  probably August or early September and I was preparing to enlist in the RAF to fulfil my National Service obligations which started in mid September of that year.  My family decided it would be a good idea to go on a holiday in Scotland as we had never been there before.  The main part was a visit to the Cowal Games at Dunoon .  By that time I was very interested in track and had been to watch a few meets at the White City. As a result I was delighted to find that the renowned Scottish distance runner Ian Binnie was attempting a National One Hour record run.  He duly completed it in just under 12 miles  and I recall he did not have much opposition.  There are some good articles on him online  and you may wish to have a look and do an article on him sometime.
It was a time of other oddities in track- I remember many of the standard ones would incorporate short distance ( 2 or 5 mile) walking races largely because Uk had some of the worlds best at those distances ( Roland Hardy particularly).  Also from time to time they held ( spelling?) Parlauf runs wherein teams of two runners would alternate on the track changing ( I think) at will.  Another area for research.
Best wishes.  Hope you are keeping well.

Those two man relays or par laufs worked best with each guy running a 330 and handing off, then 
jogging back 110 yards to take the baton back from his teammate.  Made for a good workout 
too.  George

V 10 N. 72 Remembering Charlie Moore Olympic Gold 1952 400IH R.I.P.

Walt Murphy brought this news to our attention on his blog This Day in Track and Field. The notes below are from Olympedia....