Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 100 Hurricaine Sandy may intervene on NYC Marathon

A race organizer's worst nightmare.  Less than seven days until the ING New York City Marathon and Hurricaine Sandy is on the way.   Will the aftermath be too much for the race to go on or will be some kind of watered down affair?   You can follow the Marathon organizer's website below. 


I found this paragraph under terms and conditions of entering the race.   We are talking some serious dollars.   Today , Wednesday,  NYRR says they are planning to hold the race and considering making some changes.  the ferries and subways to Staten Island are not working today due to flooding and/or high water. If you had a flight reservation for Friday or Saturday and a hotel reservation, and had trained 1000-2000 miles preparing for this would you still go to NYC this weekend?

Terms and Conditions

Once you have entered a race, your entry fees are non-exchangeable, non-transferable, and non-refundable, under any and all circumstances, including, but not limited to, cancellation of the event or of your participation, or change in the date, nature, or format of the event. An event may be cancelled or changed due to severe weather or other factors that threaten the safety of participants, staff, or volunteers. Cancellation or change of the date, nature, or format of an event may be mandated by governmental officials or otherwise be at the discretion of NYRR.
All NYRR races are capped.  Price and entry is subject to availability.
No credit cards accepted for race registration after number pickup begins. Cash or check only.
Members: If you are registering on event day, you must provide your NYRR member number to receive your member discount; otherwise you will be charged the non-member event fee.

No where on the website have I found the actual entry fee.  I did see that there was an $11 fee to put your name in the random selection process.

They have limited entries to  47, 000 runners.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 99 Van Cortlandt Park, 100 years of Cross Country History

I have never run at Van Cortlandt Park, and it may well be that I never will nor will I ever see the course or a meet there.  However it is a legend in American cross country history.   I've been to Belmont Park in Philadelphia where that course has been used by Philadelphia schools and universities for many years.  It is unchanging and in many places it is a well worn rut.  In the East , change is an anathema amongst track people.  They want to compare performances of 50 years ago with today's performances.  Thus at all costs the courses remain unchanged.  In reading about Van Cortlandt it is noted that for several years while the City Park management was refurbishing the park, the course had to be changed, and there is a lot of agony felt in the references to that fact.

The New York Times published an article (October 12, 2012)  by Mark Bloom  commemorating the 100th anniversary of cross country running in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.  Mr. Bloom's article follows on the first link.


The next link comes from Oregon remembering the 1969 NCAA cross country championships held at Van Cortlandt and won that year by Gerry Lindgren.  Steve Prefontaine was third in that race behind Lindgren and Mike Ryan of the Air Force Academy.


The third article is about the old water courses that ran through the park in colonial days.  The water is still there, however it runs through underground conduits.  Interesting article for history nuts and conservationists.

Below are some pictures I've culled from various sources.

NCAA's 1969
Pre and Lindgren on left, Donal Walsh of Villanova and Ron Bednarski UTEP on the right

underground stream under the park

The Van Cortlandt subway stop

Pre  1969


Meet probably 1920's

Course layout

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 98 September, 1962


The season has pretty much run its course in the US, so Mihali Igloi takes Jim Grelle, Lazlo Tabori, Bob Seaman and Jim Beatty on a European Tour. Let's see how it turns out.


Beatty defeating Jazy at L.A. Times

Jim Grelle

Bob Seaman

The first meet on August 6 on London's White City track goes less than well. The four are entered in the 2000 meters, but there is no hope of a fast time because rain has turned the track into a sea of mud. Grelle, Beatty and Tabori drop out, deciding “not to risk injuries and jeopardize the rest of the tour”. Seaman toughs out a 5:20 second place behind Derek Ibbotson's 5:19.2. The British press is not kind. “This regrettable and most unheroic showing could be interpreted as underlying the need for a more Spartan American cross country season.” Ouch!
The second stop came three rainy days later on Oslo's famed Bislet track where the quartet is entered in the 1500. The sun makes an appearance by race time, but the track is anything but fast. Igloi wants a quick first lap and he gets it. Seaman takes it out in 56.4. Beatty is a tenth back before moving into the lead on the second lap and passing the 800 in 1:57.0 and the 1200 a minute later. Grelle makes it interesting, closing on Beatty on the final curve, but the American record holder lifts in the last 60 to win and take half a second off his record with a 3:39.4. Grelle and Seaman clock personal bests of 3:40.2 and 3:42.7 in second and third. Tabori, unsure of his fitness, surprises himself with a 3:43.9 for fourth.
If this is August 15 we must be in France, right? Avranches to be exact where it is cold, wet and windy. A match between Michel Jazy and Beatty has been anticipated, but for some reason doesn't come off. Jazy runs the mile. Beatty is entered in the 3000 with the goal of breaking Jazy's world record of 7:49.2. He is joined by Tabori and Grelle. The home country opposition will come from Michel Bernard. Tabori does the donkey work for the first two laps before Beatty takes over, closely followed by Bernard. The two of them quickly separate from the field. The 1000 passes in 2:36.0, but the second 1000, completed in 5:16.2, puts them 4.2 seconds behind Jazy's pace, eliminating any hope for the record. Bernard doesn't lack for courage, but Beatty pulls away on the last lap for 7:54.2 to 7:56.0 victory and the American record. Grelle is third in 8:13.8. Tabori injures his Achilles and finishes fourth in 8:21.0 and “is of little use the rest of the tour”.
Seaman takes on Jazy in the mile. After a slow 3:07.0 three quarters that costs Jazy his first four minute mile, the Frenchman goes to the afterburners that Seaman doesn't have and wins 4:01.4 to 4:03.6.
Michel Jazy

And now it is August 18 and we are back at White City where a dry track awaits. The goal is to show the British press what they can do in the feature event, the mile. Once again it is Seaman doing the work on the first go round at 57.5 and once again Beatty is a tenth back. Grelle takes over on the second lap with Beatty coming aside at the 880 in 1:58.2. Now Beatty is on his own. He completes three laps in 2:58.8 with Grelle in close attendance. In fact, Grelle is running the race of his life. With half a lap to go, he does the unthinkable, passing Beatty and taking the lead. However the North Carolina grad is not done. He rallies to pull even at the 1500 in 3:41.3. Surprisingly Seaman, also running the race of his life, is only six tenths back. Down the straight they come. Gradually, Beatty's strength begins to pay off. He hits the tape a couple yards ahead of Grelle in a US record of 3:56.5. Grelle runs 3:56.7. Britain's Stan Taylor catches Seaman at the tape with both being timed in 3:58.0. Smiles all the way around as the four have produced PR's. Taylor is the first Britain to break four on English soil.   the editor must take umbrage with this fact.  Obviously Bannister was the first Englishman to break four minutes on English soil.  Checking the records Derek Ibbotson ran 3:57 in London in 1957.  Other British runners who preceded Taylor in breaking 4 minutes, though not necessarily on British soil were Chris Chataway 3:59.8 one year to the day after Bannister's historic race on May 28, 1955, then Brian Hewson in the same race, Ibbotson 3:59.4 on August 6, 1956, Ken Wood 3:59.3 on July 19, 1957, and then Taylor appears to have been the next Brit to  break 4 minutes on August 18, 1962, with a time of 3:58.01. ed. 

Three days pass and now we are in Helsinki where once again the competition is at four laps. Guess who leads the first lap. If you said Seaman, you would be right. The problem is that he is too fast, 54.5. Beatty follows in 55.5. The pattern is that of the White City race. Grelle takes the second lap with Beatty passing him at the half mile with both at 1:55.6. The pace slows predictably on the third lap with the bell reached in 2:58.0. Although by himself at this point, Beatty has enough in the tank to close in 58.3 and finish in 3:56.3 thus breaking his own American record. Once again Grelle is second, this time in 3:58.8. Olavi Salonen delights the Finnish crowd with a 3:59.1 for a national record. Seaman and Tabori are fourth and fifth in 4:01.8 and 4:06.2.

                                                  Olavi Salonen

I call this the Flying Olavi's
Olavi Salonen 135 (2nd) 3:40..2  ,  Olavi Vuorisalo 221 (3rd) 3:40.3 , and Olavi Salsola 12 (1st) 3:40.2
all defeating Dan Waern 7 (4th) 3:40.8    in Turku, Finland July 11, 1957.
Obviously 'Olavi' loosely translates as 'fleet of foot' in Finnish.  Of note in 
this race, Matti Nurmi, Paavo Nurmi's son finished a distant ninth place 2.2
seconds slower than Paavo's personal record for 1500m.

Three days later and we are still in Finland, this time in Turku where the order of the day is a rainy 50 degrees. The feature race is the 5000 where Beatty is taking a shot at Vladimir Kuts' 13:35.0 WR. The track is wet and the competition less than competitive. Tabori takes the lead on the first and third laps with Beatty leading the second and fourth. From this point the LATC star is on his own. His kilometer splits are 2:40.6, 2:45.2 (5:25.8), 2:48.2 (8:14.0), 2:49.0 (11:03.0) and 2:42.0 for 13:45.0 and yet another American record. Oh, make that two American records while you are at it, as he passes three miles 13:19.2. One has to believe that, given competition, a dry track and proper rest, the world record is within his grasp next season.
Perhaps Igloli's boys stayed at the dance too long. There is one more meet. (“Another one? Aw, come on, coach.” ) Yep, we are in Borlange, Sweden, on a 382.5 yards to the lap track with three lanes on the backstretch, running 2000 meters. Beatty wins in 5:10.9, only nine tenths off Fred Dwyers' AR. Seaman is second in 5:11.6 with Tabori third at 5:17.4. One would have to think that there were four very relieved distance runners.
Other happenings covered in this issue include Italy's Salvatore Morale's 49.2 400 hurdle clocking, tying Glenn Davis's world record and Harry Jerome's two 9.2 100 yards, tying Bob Hayes and Frank Budd. Pytor Bolotnikov revises his 10,000 WR by six tenths with a 28:18.2 performance.
Do you consider cross country among Peter Snell's strengths? Me neither, but we are both wrong. He is the 1962 New Zealand cross county champion, covering a manly 6¾ mile course “with a tough hill on each of three laps and 33 obstacles, some of them over five feet high” in 35:36 to win by 41 seconds.
After much foot dragging, the NCAA has finally entered the 20th century, replacing the 220 lows with the 330 intermediates, adding the triple jump to all meets and the six mile to the championships and increasing the championship meet to three days. Equally important is the inclusion of tie breaking rules on misses and attempts in the high jump and pole vault, something that has been standard in the AAU meets for years.
Page 16 has the national relay rankings. Oregon shows pretty good range, winning the 440, the two mile, four mile and distance medley. Texas Southern tops the 880, Arizona State the mile and Santa Clara Valley Youth Village the sprint medley.
In Bert Nelson's “Of People and Things” column he makes two suggestions that sound reasonable. He proposes running the two mile in high school meets and, to spice up invitational meets and make the decathlon more popular, having half a decathlon (not a pentathlon, but the first or second day of a decathlon or any combination thereof) in major meets.
Odds and ends: John Uesles has been suspended by the Florida Gold Coast AAU for “demanding and receiving $185” for competing in a local meet......Former Texas sprinter Dean Smith has been given a feature role in the movie “PT 109”......Grace Butcher recently ran a 5:04 mile in practice, believed to be the fastest ever by an American woman......As the mile started in a meet in Branford, Canada an unidentified runner left the stands and jumped in the race, taking the lead by the half and winning in 4:46 only to keep running to a waiting car and driving off. Who was that masked man? We'd like to thank him. Hi-Yo, Silver, away!......An undocumented survey of top US athletes occupations reveals that the most common field of employment is teaching followed by sales. Among those with less common fields of endeavor are Parry O'Brien – banker

April 23, 2007
Parry O'Brien, whose fascination with the shotput and physics fueled a career in which he held the world record from 1953 to 1959 and won two gold medals and a silver medal in four Olympic games, has died. He was 75.
O'Brien, who revolutionized the sport by devising a new throwing technique, died Saturday while participating in a masters' swim meet in Santa Clarita. His wife, Terry, with whom he lived in the Rancho Belago section of Moreno Valley, said he had suffered a heart attack.,

 Mike Herman – stock broker, Willie Atterberry – laboratory technologist, Jay Silvester – field engineer for a scale company, Pete Mundle – statistical consultant, Buzz Sawyer – draftman, Jim Beatty – insurance claim adjuster, Herm Wyatt – juvenile counselor, Phil Conley – mechanical engineer, Kent Floerke – claims adjuster, Doug Smith – bank employee, Herm Stokes – instructor at the Philadelphia Police Academy, Alex Breckenridge – career Marine officer, Ira Davis – personnel manager and Ron Ulrich – computing analyst. Some are still in school. Keith Thomassen and Jerry Siebert are graduate students in physics. Bob Vinton is in law school. John Gutknecht is a graduate student in biology. As satisfying as those sound, for pure sexiness none match the employment of Terry Beucher. He is a jet pilot in the Air Force......In case you thought track and field was over for the year, let me remind you that the British Commonwealth Games will be held Nov. 22 - Dec. 1 in Perth, Australia. Be sure to stay tuned.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Vol. 2 No.. 97 Haldane, Kangaroos, and a 4000 year old Minimalist Shoe discovered in Mesopotamia

Welcome to our Halloween Edition.

The more we forget, the more we have to rediscover.  I remember in 1977 learning to measure oxygen and CO2 levels of gas expired by endurance athletes running dehydration studies on stationery bicycles in a heat chamber..  The instrument that Dr. David Costill at the Human Performance Lab

Dr. David Costill

 at Ball State University had us budding exercise physiologists learn to use was something called a Haldane Apparatus.
The Famous Haldane Apparatus

 It had been invented in the early  1900's by John Scott Haldane a British scientist looking for ways to determine oxygen levels in underground mines.  The spin off uses of the apparatus included many experiments with marathon runners and other athletes , and some of our present theories of training came about from the use of this invention.

John Scott Haldane in his lab in England 1900

 In 1977, the new technology was just coming in that would replace Haldane's magnificent invention consisting of curved tubing, reagents, valves, and maybe even some wheels and bells.  Clever manipulation of the Haldane apparatus would result in getting good measurements, but a clumsy novice (this writer) would run that baby backwards and contaminate samples, and necessitate just as intricate a maneuvering to flush the mess out, take a new sample, and start over.
Grad Student volunteers for research  

 Dr. Costill wanted us to appreciate the pioneers who had done the groundbreaking work and had the skill to bend glass and invent tools to meet the challenges of testing their hypotheses.  For my master's thesis, the data I collected and the analyis that I did, took almost a year.  Now with the advances in biochemistry, biomechanics, and the computer, the same work could be done in a week or two at the most.

On occasion some of the research went terribly wrong. 

Test Subject in Early Dehydration Studies
Grad Students were ususally pushed to the limit  in Muncie, Indiana.
This subject did regain the use of his legs when DNA recombinant theory was put to practical use.

Back in the late 70's running shoes were starting to improve in leaps and bounds, becoming more and more intricate and comfortable with synthetic materials, but then they had to meet the needs of a mass public.  So looks and appearance started to be part of the  marketing mix as well.
Extreeme Nike

The old Adidas Interval
There was a time in the mid 1950's that Adidas made track spikes out of Kangaroo leather, and those shoes fit so comfortably that they just enveloped your feet like a new layer of closely fitting skin.  In fact some kangaroo in the Outback gave up his or her hide so I could tear around the cinders and feel like a champ when those 3/4 inch spikes dug into the earth and seemed to propel me through the turns and down the straightaways.  Adidas  probably sold a few thousand pairs in North America through the good offices of Cliff Severn and the Van de Voort Sporting Goods Company in Lansing, MI.  Puma may have used Kangaroo, and Dresske certainly did.  Others may have too.  But the sales were so small that the noble Kangaroo never felt the whack of big time marketing and a culling of his loved ones from  the herds.  Do they travel in herds?  I have seen the word 'shepherd' but definitely not 'kangaherd'    Today I received a notice via email asking me to plead with Nike to cease and desist from the use of Kangaroo leather in their soccer boots.
This Joey would make a single size 5D

  How can I ask them to do such a thing?  The Kangaroo leather shoe was a huge part of my past.  It is still  a wonderful memory.  Can't we just clone Kangaroo leather on a sheep or maybe a cow?  Save the Kangaroo.  Should we ask Nike to go synthetic?  That might cause untold damage as well making a synthetic soccer boot. How many acres of soybeans would need to be grown to serve the soccer masses?  I'm sure it would take food off of someone's table.   I'm for 100% organic track shoes,  but that means leather doesn't it?  I'll overlook the steel  spikes being inorganic.

Proper application of Kangaroo leather  circa 1960

                                              Recycling Your Minimalist Shoes
Now for that minimalist shoe.  (Seen Above)   These shoes pre-date Bill Bowerman's first experiments by about 4000 years.   (Can be seen at the British Museum)  They were made of Kangaroo leather imported to Mesopotamia from Australia.  It was easier then as the land masses were still joined by a continental bridge through what is now Indonesia.   These shoes had a light midsole that enabled the runner to have a near 100% contact with the earth as he or she ran.  There is a double stitch down the back of the shoe and this innovation was proven time and again to preserve the integrity of the Achilles tendon when stitched properly to the tendon.  However Achilles had not yet been born at this time and the tendon was known as the Zorbag tendon after a mythological hero of the Hittites.   Further innovations include  the stay tight fasteners found on the shoe on the left.  This design is  on the drawing board today, my sources tell me along with another version of the wheel.  The big companies are just waiting for the patent to expire, so they can put their version on the market.  They are hoping to keep these rip offs under $300.00.    I think this pair was made specifically for someone with two left feet.  Pigmentation studies indicate that they came in a transluscent orange for seasonal wear, however, earth tones were much more practical.  The stylish lacing design is still seen today in some Versace creations, excuse me, imitations.   These shoes retailed.  Well, they didn't really retail as coin of the realm had yet to be invented.  However, a pair could be had from the cobbler for  a firkin of butter or a role in the hay. ed.

Post Modern Minimalist   Puleeese!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 96 Runners on Running, a Book from Rich Elliott

Most of our readers have strong backgrounds in track and field/cross country as athletes or coaches.
Their current professions run the full spectrum of humanity.  A few are published authors, and one that I recently became aware of is Rich Elliott, a former U. of Kansas distance runner.  Rich's book Runners on Running, The Best  Nonfiction of Distance Running has been out since November , 2010, but it's not too late to give it a plug.  ed.

Rich says,
"I know that some of you, like me, may be too hobbled by age to run anymore. But if you are reading George's blog, then you are still reading about running. And perhaps you have a younger friend or relative who runs? In any case, I believe that my book is the best collection of pieces about distance running available--and a flat-out great read for you and other kindred spirits. "
"If you’d like to get my book, you can order it through Human Kinetics; or Amazon, but I’d prefer you buy it from me directly—that way, I can give you a signed copy."

"I’m selling my book for $20; that includes shipping cost. If you are interested, just respond to this email, letting me know your mailing address, how many copies you’d like, and to whom I should inscribe the book(s). Send your check to: Rich Elliott/ 1127 Laurel Ave./ Winnetka, Illinois 60093; and I’ll send you the books."

Runners on Running

Runners on Running, The Best Nonfiction of Distance Running is the ultimate anthology of inspirational stories, humorous accounts, and pivotal moments in the sport. This one-of-a-kind collection includes over 30 unforgettable stories from the most acclaimed writers in running:
  • John Brant
  • Kenny Moore
  • Amby Burfoot
  • Kathrine Switzer
  • Don Kardong
  • Marla Runyan and Sally Jenkins
  • Frank Murphy
  • Pam Reed
  • Mark Bloom
  • Hal Higdon
  • Roger Hart
  • Rachel Toor
  • And More!
The pieces encompass the full range of the running experience, from motivation to frustration to exhilaration. The stories brilliantly capture the essence of the sport.

This year's winner of the Cordner Nelson Book Award, given by the Track and Field Writers of America

Friday, October 5, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 95 Study and Train in Kenya

The following press release was sent to us by Mike Solomon, former Kansas University runner of the 1960's.   He is working with the United States  International University organizing a study and training abroad program focused toward distance runners who would like to train in Kenya but also to have an opportunity to get university credits in the process.  They will have a booth at the Chili Pepper Meet in Arkansas this weekend.  If you are planning to be there , look them up.  If you wish to contact them by email, that information is in the press release. ed.

From USIU Public Relations Office: October 2012
USIU launches its Sports Exchange Program in US
United States International University (USIU) has again undertaken in an innovative study abroad program that incorporates sports and education. We have managed to combine one of the many great things that Kenya is renowned for and packaged it successfully with academics. This unique program was engineered to cater for anyone who has a passion for athletics.
On Saturday, 13th October 2012, USIU will be present at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival to inform and educate the public on this venture.
The USIU officials who will be present during this event for registration will be:
·        George Lumbasi: USIU Head of Admissions
·        Boniface Salano: USIU Activities Coordinator
·        Kellen Njagi:  USIU International Students Officer
·        Franklin Muriithi: Sports Exchange- Kenya
They will answer any queries you will have on the USIU Sports Exchange Program. From them you will get an insight on how to integrate training like a Kenyan athlete while still being able to study.
Sports exchange students will have access to Kenya’s training facilities that are utilized by Kenya’s renowned athletes when training for international competitions such as: IAAF World Championships, IAAF World Challenges, IAAF Diamond League and Olympic Games.
These facilities include two international stadia situated within the City of Nairobi and seven high altitude training camps situated at the heart of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.

This is a great initiative that will see American athlete enthusiasts get the best of both worlds while also gaining cultural and social diversity. Take the time to visit our USIU stand at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival and register for the sports exchange program at USIU.

SPORTS Exchange: www.sportxchange.org

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 94 Phil Coppess, a Living Legend

Sarah Barker writing for the New York Times today recalls Phil Coppess who in 1985 set the record for the Twin Cities Marathon at 2hrs 10 minutes and 5 seconds .  It is still the record.   Phil was definitely a blue collar runner as Ms. Barker reports.   Our hats are off this gentleman who must have showed the way to a lot of high strung thorougbreds in those days.  Can anyone I.D. the runner next to Phil in the photo?


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 93 A Bevy of Bouffanted Beauties Brightens Boys' Meets

Ok,  it's time to get serious and cover women's track.    This morning I opened the New York Times (October 2, 2012) , turned to the Arts section where the crossword puzzle is located, and suddenly on page C2  I'm flashing back to the 60's.   There is a story on a current exhibition in Paris, France, not Texas, entitled The Art of Hair.  Wait, you're asking,  this is a blog about track and field events, where is the editor headed with this?  Patience folks, read on or click on the link below to find out.


Featured is a photograph of three young ladies, members of the Texas Track Club out of Abiliene, resting in their starting blocks.   These young ladies wearing what then could only have been  called skimpy uniforms, though they might today pass for Hooters' waitress get ups  are rather top heavy in the hair department, especially the one in lane two.  The caption on the photo refers to them as the "Bouffant Belles, a running team in Texas in a 1962 photograph by Neil Barr".  The one in the center could easily be the subject of the jokes about Texas ladies getting tangled in ceiling fans.  The three actually made the cover of Sports Illustrated on April 20, 1964, announcing they were on the road to Tokyo.  Of course the SI curse bit them, and I believe only Janice Richardson , the blonde in the foreground made it to the Olympic trials in the 200 meters running 4th in her heat in a non-advancing 25.5 seconds.  The out of focus lady with the starting pistol was their coach.  The meet  announcers had a good time with them, and they certainly had all the attention of the male contestants and the spectators. 

Having run at the University of Oklahoma in those days, I used to see this group of bouffanted beauties at various meets in the Southwest, and they were certainly an attraction in an era of limited female participation at men's meets.  It fact they were the only female attraction at men's meets other than a few Relays queens from the local sorority houses in Austin, Des Moines, and Lawrence. It was a small beginning toward women being recognized as competitive in the sport, and they had to peddle their sexuality to do it.

It you have any memories or comments about this group please share them through the comments section of this blog or email them to me at georgebrose@yahoo.com 

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...