Sunday, December 21, 2014

v. 4 n. 97 End of Year Ramblings

It's been a good year for this not for profit blog,  as no one has sued us for using material from their vaults and counting houses.  Many thanks to all the resources that we have dug into and for showing a willingness and restraint for allowing us to show your work on this site.  A few original thoughts have come from these pages, and we are more than happy for others to use our material.  Our readership in this narrow little niche has expanded from a few hits a day to an average of about 300 per day and a total of 123,000 as of yesterday.  Thanks too for the  comments from Phil Scott, Steve Price, Bill Schnier, Dick Trace, Bruce Kritzler, Ernie Cunliffe, Sylvia Gleason, Geoff Williams, John Cobley, Bob Roncker, David Baskwill, Pete Brown, Mike Solomon, Bill Blewett, Bill Stone, Preston Holsinger, Darryl Taylor, John Lawson, Gary Wilson, J.D. Martin, Jim Metcalf, John Perry, David Perry, Ricardo Romo, Joe Swanson, Leif Bugge, Walt Mizell, Richard Mach, Bill Flint, Jerry McFadden, John Bork, Dennis Kavanaugh, Rick Lower, Thomas Coyne, Orville Atkins, Susan Asuaba, and a small lifeboat full of others unnamed who make this blog possible.  Knowing you are out there reading it and adding your histories makes the work more than worthwhile.

A number of comments and recent discoveries are sitting on my digital desk to share with you so here goes.  There are for instance a treasure trove of interesting pieces from Norway that we will cite or refer to in this posting and you just have to open them and right click on the piece and then click on the 'translate to english' box. The translation is stilted, but that's where cybertechnology is still facing challenges to imitating the human brain.

The above site is a wealth of track and field info.  You just have to let your computer translate the articles.

Walt Mizell wrote to us:

Hey, George,  this is completely off-topic, but I just finished a good book that's pretty thought-provoking.  It's by Malcolm Gladwell, entitled Outliers.  The whole book is good, but the first two chapters are the most sports-related ones.

As far as sports are concerned, he points to a correlation between the month a person is born
in and the probability that that person will succeed in sports.  He uses hockey players, mostly from Canada, as his example,  but it makes for an interesting thesis.

The idea is that those born early in the period of time from whom their age-group is selected have a physical advantage, which is compounded by the favorable treatment they get from their coaches, who favor the better-developed players all along their developmental years.  Thus if a cohort is selected from Jan. 1, 19XX, until Dec. 31, 19XX, those born in January have a statistically-demonstrable advantage that stays with them throughout their sports careers.

I found it interesting because when I was of the age to start school, the cut-off date for first grade was Sept 1.  If you were born before Sept 1, you could start school  that year.  I was born on Sept 2, but my parents got a special dispensation from the school district (Fort Worth, Texas) to let me start school even though I was too young.  The result was that all the way through college, I was one of the youngest in my school class.  In fact, it wasn't until I was about a junior in high school that I didn't feel like I was kind of undersized, always competing against guys as much as a year older than I was.  

I thought it was something you might want to take a look at it and see if its something you might send out to your readers for their comments.

Thanks Walt.   I'll make some mention of that.   I have read somewhere that some parents are intentionally holding their kids back in school so they will be the biggest and best developed in their class for that very purpose of excelling in sports and having better odds of getting a scholarship.  .    Our daughter started in the right age group in school, but she was slow developing around 4 or 5 and we made several moves that year and just pulled her out of schools and started over the next year and it really help her because she caught up quickly.   
Take care,

Parents in Texas who hope for football glory for their sons have been holding them back for a long time.  I never really thought about the advantage that might accrue for someone just in oldest part of his true age group, though.  It makes sense--and Gladwell's statistics seem to support it.  

Fred Hansen?
the more technical the event , the more hours to develop?
10,000hrs.  no doubt
Ryun may be a good example of what he is talking about.  If the magic number is 10,000 hours (as he suggests) it might be interesting to find out how much time Ryun or others who excelled spent getting to the point that they became so much better than their peers. Walt

from George
Only a few guys survived Timmons' horrendous training.   Ryun,  San Romani Jr.,  and I think Billy Stone who ran for him in high school then went to OSU.   I don't know if hours made the difference.  It would have been extremely hard to do Timmons for 10,000 hours. Remember his question to athletes?  "Which level of hell do you want to train at?"    Igloi kept his guys out there pretty long doing 3 hour workouts too.  
Truex and Bolotnikov, both probably
10,000 hour men
Ryun 10,000 hours or the
right combination of all
It was a love it or leave it relationship with these training regimes.  You ask some guys about it and they swear by it, because they had great success, but others are almost in tears recalling those times.

If you spent 3 hours a day in training that would be 10,000/3  =   3,333 days approx.  9 years to develop.
Ryun was world class after only three years as a teenager.  That would be about 9.13 hours a day every day for 3 years with no time off.    Let's say the practice went to 4 hours a day, it would only take 6.8 years to hit that 10,000 hours.   Maybe you would have to add mental preparation time,  and you could reduce the number of years to reach 10,000 hours. He also had a paper route which could have added hours and mileage.   Then there are always the people who could train all their lives and never even be average performers whether it be running, jumping, painting, or singing.  This tells me 'natural selection' is also an important factor that has to meet just the right conditions of chemistry with the coach, the family, the peers, the girlfriends,  the psyche.  Not all those factors have to be positive, but they have to really fit well with the other factors, each influencing the other toward peak performance at a given time in the athlete's life.   Sometimes a terrible parent might be the key factor driving an athlete to perform as an escape or a means of proving themself to that negative  in their life.   It's all quite unpredictable in the beginning.  When you see 12 athletes going to the starting line in an Olympic final, the individual stories of what it took to get them there are just as fascinating as are the stories of the ones who  fell   short of toeing that line.   

Gladwell in his book  "David and Goliath" has a chapter on the Old Testament story.  He cites research that the odds may have been heavily in David's favor from the get go.  First, in those times. the rock slingers were the major weapon of the military.   So David was well armed.   The second factor is Goliath may have been suffering from a form  of gigantism (acromegaly)  caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland resulting in abnormal growth with the side effects of blurred vision and loss of balance.   It seems to support the multiple factor idea that great performance is a combination of many different things, not just training.  

We'd like to remember the passing of British international Andy Holden who died in January of this year.   In the 1970's Andy represented England in road racing, world cross country, indoor and outdoor track, and fell running.  He might have led the world in the beer mile today had it existed in his good years.  His obituary notes that he won an international marathon having consumed ten pints of beer the night before the race,  he could also consume a pint after a race while standing on his head, and had once consumed 100 pints in a week while covering 100 miles of training in the same week.  But of more important note was his coaching of many youngsters, and while working in his profession of dentistry having provided service to those who could not afford the fees.

Jack Lane, Andy Holden , and Dave Bedford
representing England in World Cross Country

PD Scott
Jason (Phil's son) said that is the very point, cocaine whatever it does makes you get crazy to jump high. 
Not pun HIGH!

Testing for other cheaters! I had a track team friend at U.C. that got drunk picked up a girl at a bar and went to her apt. started messing with her found out not girl. He was back to dorm sober half naked barefoot. 
There's a feature film made in Germany about the German high jumper Marie Ketteler.  
Found it in the library up here   'Berlin 36'  is the name. As much about
the Jewish girl Gretel Bergmann who was not allowed on the team and their friendship.

Earn money reading this blog.

If you are sitting in a bar some night in Lick Skillet, Ohio and looking

for money to leave to leave the state, you can win bar bets with the information found at the

link below.   It is all the Ohians who have been ranked in the world

of track and field.

From the Penn State Track and Field Alum and Golf blog this picture of Horace

Ashenfelter , Penn State alum, leading and eventually winning the Helsinki

Steeplechase.  The Russian second place finisher behind him Vladmir

Kazantzev.   Could these two men be twins, separated at birth?  Drange's

theory of the feet being more different than faces may well be true.

see the race at

The link above is a youtube clip of Ashenfelter's win at Helsinki.

A note from Bruce Kritzler:

Bruce's wife will appreciate my passing this on/

Just wanted to let everyone know that USATF Masters track 

champs are at UNF , Jacksonville this July 23-26.  nice Mondo track that 

hosts NCAA East Region.  We're 90 min. North of there on St. Simons

Island, and have an extra bedroom and 2 couches for Master athletes.

We guarantee cool weather!!  We have the Last Gasp 5k  xc race in

Jacksonville tomorrow.  My favorite race of the year.  An 'old school 

race ($15 entry) get a sweatshirt with no advertising on it, and free 

beer and pizza at sports bar after the race.

Even have a new pair of shoes from Ross Dress for Less, Nike victory

XC spikes with waffle bottom -  also $15!   Ross has some great deals

(especially if you are looking for size 15 javelin boots).  Always have some 

$100 plus field event shoes for $15-30.

Here's that translated norwegian article I mentioned earlier.
and the site it came from:

Englishman Gordon Pirie was one of those who swore to shoemaker Drange shoes. But no more than that he also spent Adidas. Here in a convention in 1955, and then it Drangesko apply. "The design" was distinctive, white and black leather.
14.12.09: Bergenser which made running shoes, Madsen
"People are more different in the feet than in the face. Therefore spikes be made to measure. And they must be lightweight and made of superior material."
This practiced Bergenser Vincent Drange 50 years. He was fascinated by early shoemaker profession and even before he had finished elementary school in 1917 made and he sold his first shoes. Interest spikes he received when he began to run on the track some years later.
Since it went snowballed. At home on the kitchen counter in Ibsensgate was conjured up one good model for the other. Eventually it became great demand. As shoes were made by hand, it was not weird production, tells Drange.Rumors must nevertheless have gone, because Gunder Haegg sets world at 1500 meters, it was with Drangesko. Later used the double Olympic champion at 800 meters, Mal Whitfield also shoes from Bergen.
Arne Hamarsland was also of those who swore to shoes from Drange bench. "Shoe obviously plays an important role for runners. It is important that it is firmly on the foot and that feels good in it. I have even tried other brands, but turned always back to Drangesko" said Hamarsland in a radio interview.
There were many runners in the fifties who could not run other than shoes from Drange. Before the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956 Drange telegraphic message from the Olympic city to submit a new pair to 800 m - runner Derek Johnson. Drange made a couple in record time and got sent it off to Australia. They must have looked after well, Johnson ploy silver medal ahead Boysen with them. Boysen also ran with Drangesko. So did Gordon Pirie who took silver in the same Olympics. An additional triumph for shoemaker was certainly also when same Pirie same year set a world record in the 5000 meters at Krohn Minde.
Athletics Museum at Lillestrom has one of Boysens couple as he sat both Norwegian records and world records with. Altogether it was set 60 Norwegian records, 30 Danish records, some English records and thus world records with shoes made on a bench in Bergen.
Long before Nike, Adidas, Puma and other brands were Billion shop.
Source: Athletics in 1991.
Two guys who wore Drange shoes out of Norway in the mid-1950's and early 60's.

Gordon Pirie

I think we have enough on this posting to keep you busy up until

Christmas.  No need to buy presents for yourself.  This is it.

Best wishes for all the holidays, whatever ones you care to

celebrate.  It's been fun doing this or we wouldn't be doing it.

Just hope we don't hurt any feelings or piss anyone off too much.

Should that be our new mission, Roy?

George and Roy

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