Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 22 Boston, Thomas and now Peter Snell

Ralph Boston and John Thomas

George. Please don't talk to me about John Thomas. Why? In Jan 1961 I ran in the BAA games in Boston. I broke the world indoor record for the 1000, previously held
by Arnie Sowell who tied Nielsons record which was set 10 YEARS previously. I ran 2:07.9 The generous gentlemen of the press proceded to vote John Thomas as the meet
Outstanding athlete. Why? Well Brumel broke the World High Jump record earlier in the day, around noon or so and the press people and Thomas all knew it. Thomas
managed to break his American Record in the High Jump that evening at Boston = obviously an American record is far better than a 10 year old World Record in the 1000.
I have never gotten over that as it would have been my one and only Outstanding Athlete award at a meet. Even the Meet Director, Wil Cloney apologized to me and could
not understand how it had happened.

Actually I can't blame Thomas since it was the local Boston press that screwed me over.

As an interesting bit of info, I coached Arnie Sowell's son at the AF Academy. He was not the quality runner, 800, 1000, or miler that his old man was !!


Yes. I had been in New Zealand on tour with a small USA team in Jan/Feb 1962. Raced Snell in 880 3 times and in the World Record Mile at Wanganui. I saw but did not
compete in his next race in Christchurch which was his W.Record 880. I did not run because Dave Edstrom pulled a muscle and could not do the pentathlon vs 2 Kiwis. Since
I had done 1 pentathlon at Stanford vs a guy named Toomey, back in 1961, I volunteered to enter the event in NZ so they wouldn't have to cancel it. By the way, I beat
Toomey in 1 event, the 1500 of course. Anyway, I split the two NZ guys, winning the 1500 and the 200, actually getting a PR in the 200 with a 22.8. My point total was
2721 which slightly bettered my score vs Toomey, who scored over 3200. Don't recall the winners score in NZ but I believe he was one of their Olympic Decathlon guys at Rome
or maybe later in Tokyo.

Since I was 0-6 vs Snell (the above 4 in NZ and the Rome Olympics trial round and semis) I turned down the "offer" to run in LA vs Snell again + Bill Carothers (spelling) who both
broke my W.R. I had predicted in NZ that Snell would run around 2:06, which I believe was his time in LA, smashing the record by nearly 2 seconds.

I stayed in Hawaii and put on some clinics for kids, sort of hiding out I guess. Only good news after that was when I got home and my wife informed me that she was a couple
of months pregnant with our lst kid, our son Jon who is now almost 49.

I think Snell was around 1:50 vs my 1:50.5. But he sure finished alot faster for the final yds. NZ tracks were grass as I recall. The Wanganui WR mile was on a 350meter + track so
we had to do 4 and 1/2 laps approximately. World records were never questioned due to grass surfaces as the distance was the only concern. Yes, Dr (non medical) Snell works
in Tx I believe in Houston at the U Texas Med facility there. My neighbor down the street, an anesthesiologist, went to medical school there and remembers Snell as a guest professor
for a couple of his classes. Don't recall the tracks anywhere being inside a speedway although I think the Wanganui track was inside a bike velodrome, thus the short distance.
When the 7 runners in the WR mile were invited back in 1993, they were making the track regulation 400 meters and we were featured for the 31st anniversary of the WR. My
wife went with me as her father was a NZealander, immigrating to USA in 1922 when he was 16. She still has alot of relatives there and we visited some of them during our
post Wanganui tour of the N and S Islands.

Never ran against Sullivan but I definitely recall him. I think he missed 1 or maybe 2 Olympics due to the problems which S. Africa had. (I can't spell Aparthide)

Bruce Kritzler wrote

Thanks for the forwards from Ernie. I think Snell mentioned him in his book (Clean Pair of Heels?) as racing against him in New Zealand.
Did you make the OU reunion?

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