Friday, October 28, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 65 September , 1959 , The Real Story

Roy hit the nail on the head as it was too long a summer in Europe, AF summer camp, and alot of missed training prior to the Pan Am Games.
( Apparently the Buffalo Firemens 660 was a week before the Pan Am Games. Please sort of edit my summary. Too bad as I can always run 1 race when out of shape so it would have been nice to have the lst race at the Pan
Ams instead of Buffalo.)

To make matters worse, there were 3 rounds in the 800, something I didn't need considering my lack of condition.
For those that are really interested in the details: lst round I was 2nd to George Kerr 1:52.9 to 1:53.8. Jerome Walters won his
heat in 1:53.9 while Tom Murphy won the last heat in 1:52.5

Semis: Murphy won the lst semi in 1:50.9. Walters the 2nd in 1:51.1 while I slipped in at 4th and last qualifying in 1:52.1. I have
no idea what the final was like, but Roy has covered the pedestrian pace. Mel Spence was 4th in 1:50.0 & my 5th was 1:51.5. 6th
was Stan Worsfeld of Canada and Sig Ohlemann was 7th with no time given. The big surprise was that Walters dropped out at the
600 mark and I never learned what happened. I was so encouraged at dropping my time each round that I secretly wished that there
might have been an extra couple of rounds that might have gotten me into shape for a 1:49 or better, but not to be of course

What did happen was the Buffalo Firemans handicap 660 race with a cast of thousands it seemed. Jack Yerman and I started from
scratch with so many strung out ahead of us it was almost hilarious. I had run some sub 1:16s in practice at Stanford with a
running start of course!! This race I sort of followed Yerman and actually felt like passing him a couple of times but figured I had
no business challenging a 46/47 400 guy so just held position and finished 2nd by a couple of tenths.

Now for something I have never shared publically for some 52 years. Most of you know that I was a 800/miler type guy but did you
know that I won and set a new Pan Am Record in the 400 hurdles?? You can look it up. In the 1960 US Olympic Book on page 403
you will find my name, William E Cunliffe as winner of the 400 meter hurdles in 51.2, a new Pan Am Record. Obviously I must have
had a great running start. Here's what happened. The person that set up the type and results listed Josh Culbreath alphabetically
just above my name. His only result was listed as 2nd for the 1600 meter relay, but instead of dropping down a line for Josh's hurdles, they
credited me with his hurdle result. Below me is Cliff Cushman listed as 5th in the 800 and then it gets sort of funny: Dave Davis
got 3rd in the 400 hurdles, Ira Davis 3rd in the shot put, and finally Bill Dellinger shows his versatility by getting 7th in the hop step
and jump, but wins the 5,000 meters. Even Track and Field News got it right but leave it to the US Olympic Committee book editor
to give me one of my greatest "wins" ever.

To wind up with another hurdle story. In 9th grade I went out for track and was practicing the hurdles, probably lows since I was sort of
short. On about the 3rd or 4th hurdle, while I was in mid air, a friend of mine's cocker spaniel dashed in front of the landing spot and I
actually spiked his right hind leg as I crashed down to the track. I quit track for 2 years and began my career in an intramural 440 race my
jr year in high school, spring of 1954. No I didn't win and in fact started my high school varsity career just as I finished it the following year
by falling down just prior to the finish line. No hurdles but my next race was the 880.

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