Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 48 Elliot , Cerutty, Portsea

I was a junior in high school when Herb Elliot burst on to running scene in 1957-60. As a wannabe miler, I was enamored by the mystique of Elliot, Percy Cerutty, and the whole Australian gang running up and down the dunes and through the surf. We didn't have a lot of dunes and surf in southern Illinois.

A few years ago, I went to Melbourne on business. I took the weekend to do the pilgrimage to Portsea (about 1 & 1/2 miles south of Melbourne) to see the famous dunes. The landscape is similar to Marin County in Calif. But the dunes, the beaches, and the ocean are awesome. Portsea is still a sleepy small village now noted for it snorkeling and diving. And the dunes are now environmentally protected, with repeat runs up and down them frowned upon.

Their training camp is long gone but the grass oval where they did intervals is still there - but basically just a wide open grass field with park benches on the perimeter. There is a plaque to Percy Cerutty on the side, put there by his runners on his death. Ironically, someone mispelled his name on the plaque and no one ever changed it.

Portsea is a great weekend holiday out of Melbourne by itself. But if you are a running history nut, you will enjoy it even more.

P.S. I still have an autographed poster of Herb on my office wall!

Jerry McFadden

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