Sunday, February 15, 2015

v 5 n. 10 Art Garcia and Franjo Mihalic RIP

In an earlier blog posting we brought you a rememberance of times when Franjo Mihalic was on or near the top of world class marathoning in the mid 1950's.   He passed away recently at the age of 95,  winner of silver at Melbourne behind Alain Mimoun in 1956.  He was also the winner of the Boston Marathon in 1958 and the Cross de Nations in cross country along with the Sal Silvestre race in Brazil and many other races.  Also passing away recently was Art Garcia, former USC captain and Pacific Coast Conference champion in the mile in 1952.

Former USC Distance Runner Garcia Passes Away
Art Garcia
Art Garcia
Feb. 12, 2015
Art Garcia, co-captain of the 1952 USC national champion track and field team, passed away at the age of 84 on Feb. 2, 2015 in Culver City, Calif. Services are being held today at the Bobbitt Memorial Chapel in San Bernardino, Calf.
Garcia was a distance runner who specialized in the mile and two-mile races, winning the Pacific Coast Conference Championship in the mile with a time of 4:12.5 in 1952.
Garcia was also the captain of the 1951 USC cross country team which won the school's first-ever conference title. Garcia went undefeated that season, winning the PCC and the Southern Pacific AAU cross country titles.
Garcia was known for his leadership, work ethic and tremendous competitive spirit. He went on to become a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and a successful business man who served on numerous boards. Garcia also served as vice-president of the Trojan Force and volunteered at USC home track and field meets. 

Earlier posting from :  Vol 3 No. 67


Two more photos, rarely seen,  from Jerry McFadden

Here are more of the old photos I promised you last week

Photo 1. shows Gordon Pirie (1) leading in the March, 1953, "Cross Des Nations" (precursor to the modern International XC Champs) at Vincennes, France, in front of Thys (15) and Van Wattyene (16). The Englishman Pirie was the favorite but faded. Mihalic from Yugoslavia won. Pirie set 5 world records in his prime, including 5K in 13:36.8 and 3K in 7:52.7 in 1956. He also took a silver medal in the 5K in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.  Mihalic took the silver in the marathon at Melbourne and won Boston in 1958.

Photo 2. shows the XC hurdles in the middle of the same race. Mihalic (135) eventually won, Surprisingly, the final distance was not listed in newspaper article, although the winning time was 47:53.1. 


A clear view of Mihalic the winner is not evident in these pictures
but his head is partially seen behind Gordon Pirie's head.
Note the close distance between these barriers

Click to see enlarged copy of meet results

More about  Franjo Mihalic (Yougoslavia) the winner of Cross des Nations  1953

Who was Mihalic?  Probably you have forgotten that Franjo Mihalic won the Boston Marathon in 1958 and a silver medal in the marathon in 1956 behind Alain Mimoun in the Melbourne Olympics. 

A brief youtube clip can be seen at
Longer and rather bizarrely edited clips also show up on youtube if you type in Mihalic's name.  What is remarkable is that the man was such a good international runner for a long period of time.  Born in 1920, he would have spent his best years surviving Nazi occupation during WWII and probably not being able to do much training.  A twenty years old healthy male most likely spent a lot of time in the military.  If you speak Serb or Croatian,  you  may be able to learn more about him on the youtube clips, some of which are over 20 minutes long.   At 93 years of age he is still alive today.   An interesting thing that came up in googling his name is that he ran in the Sao Sylvestre New Year's Eve run with Zatopek in Brazil in the 1950's.   A picture of him on the podium with Zatopek can be seen at the following website, and more interestingly you will have a history of that famous race.  It has been computer translated from Portugese to English, so there are some glaring translation mistakes, but you can still get this gist of the story.

Mihalic in Europe

Mihalic and some of his hardware

Mihalic counseling  French singer and actor Charles Azanevour who played a Czech marathoner (Zatopek?)
in the film "The Games". 
With Veikko Karvonen, and Alain Mimoun in Melbourne after the Marathon

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