Tuesday, June 16, 2015

V 5 No 58 June, 1965 and the Passing of Ron Clarke Today

Ron Clarke and Michel Jazy, June 1965 Melun , France
It is with sad irony that as I posted this piece this evening  I learned of the passing of Ron Clarke, almost fifty years to the day of this June , 1965 report on his racing in Europe and the Americas.
We will all truly miss this great man and runner, and as yet it is a bit too early to let everything sink in about his career and his life.   I'm leaving you with the following obituary from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation with several video clips included within.    GB

Ron Clarke, Obituary  click on this link to the le

Ron Clarke Documentary 40 minutes

JUNE 1965
Next month's report will include the NCAA championship in Berkeley and the AAU championship in San Diego, but it is unlikely that they will produce marks as significant as those we are about to relate.
The California Relays at Modesto JC provides two new world records and equals another. Nine thousand one hundred sixty fans are there to see Ralph Boston add ¾ inch to the long jump record he already holds with a leap of 27-5. They also witness Southern University tie the world record in the mile relay as Robert Johnson (47.3), Anthony Gates (46.1), Everett Mason (46.0) and Theron Lewis (45.1) combine to clock 3:04.5.
Theron Lewis on left, Robert Johnson third from left of that WR mile relay.
Are my eyes playing tricks, or is that not a fifth man on their team?  I think Bill
Bowerman once wanted to sub in identical twin in a relay when the field went behind
the end zone seats, but the kid backed out of that ruse.  I'm sure Southern U. did
not pull some skullduggery to get that WR.
What the fans don't see is Hal Connolly's 233-2 world record in the hammer throw, adding 1' 4” to his own mark. The original plan was to the have the hammer throw just outside the stadium with the 16 pound balls landing on the baseball outfield. School officials nixed this idea and the event was moved to the neighboring town of Ceres where the record was witnessed by officials, other competitors, a few relatives and six cows. Connolly's series is so good that his average this day has been bettered on a single throw by only one man. Not bad for a guy who is semi retired.
The future is heard from in the form of two high school kids. Jim Ryun, running his last race as a high school student, wins a narrow decision over a good mile field in 3:58.1, barely edging surprising John Garrison who has the same time. Jim Grelle and Josef Odlozil of Czechoslovakia finish just a tenth back. The surprise is former San Jose State half miler, Garrison, whose previous best was 4:10.6. He now runs for the LA Track Club under the guidance of Mihaly Igloi.
Ryun has been in the public eye for a year now. He was on the Olympic team. The other high school winnertonight is out of the blue or more accurately, out of Alabama. 
Richmond Flowers

Richmond Flowers Jr. has made the adjustment from the 39 inch high school hurdles to the big boy 42 inch variety. Tonight's race is the sixth time he has run a flight of the really high hurdles. He is up against the silver medalist in last year's Olympics, Blaine Lindgren, and NE Louisiana's 13.7 pair of Rogers, Morgan and Mann. Lindgren powers to a four foot lead at the sixth hurdle, but Flowers is determined (and pretty darn fast).
Blaine Lindgren
He catches Lindgren on the final hurdle and wins the run in as he, Lindgren and Morgan are all clocked in 13.9 with Mann a tenth back.

The discus gets some attention from the crowd as that is world record holder Ludvik Danek of Czechoslovakia stepping into the ring right now. The competition is Jay Silvester, a veteran who is showing signs of impressive improvement. Indeed, tonight he has a warm up throw of 213-9 and a foul of 211-9. As encouraging as these marks are, when the dust settles Danek wins 205-3 to 201-1½. Danek and Silvester will meet again and soon.
Ludvig Danek

Jay Silvester

Jay in 2005
Now to give you the full picture of the track world, we must do a little ocean hopping. The first chapter of our tale takes place on June 2 in St. Maur, France. Michel Jazy has been France's best middle distance runner for many years. His resume includes three Olympiads and a silver medal (1500 in 1960). This year he planned to take it easy and just run for fun in preparation for his last hurrah at next year's European Championships. Surprisingly, taking his foot off the training pedal has him in superb condition. He decides this is an opportunity to take a shot at several records.
Tonight, in this Paris suburb, he will challenge Poland's European mile record holder, Wiltold Baran at the four lap distance. Splits of 58.0, 1:59.0 and 3:00.5 leave him within striking distance of Baran's 3:56.0. A 55.0 final lap results in a 3:55.5 clocking and the record. More importantly, a message has been sent. Michel Jazy is ready.

With Alain Mimoun
Now we jump a day ahead and 5600 miles away to the Compton Invitational. Ron Clarke is in town and will attempt to break his own world records at three miles (13:07.6) and 5000 meters (13:33.6). The temperature is a near perfect 60 degrees. The great Australian leads through three laps at 3:12.4 at which point Neville Scott of New Zealand comes to his aid and leads through the sixth lap before falling away.That help is all that Clarke needs.On his own, he goes through two miles in 8:40.0. Now it is apparent that the records are within reach. The crowd is with him. The next laps go off in 66.8, 66.0 and 66.2. Clarke is not a great finisher, but he doesn't need to be. A 63.0 gives him the three mile mark of 13:00.4 and the last 188 yards are covered in 25.4 for a new 5000 record of 13:25.8, an astounding 9.2 seconds better than the second best time ever run, 13:35.0 by Vladimir Kuts.
Ron Clarke
Clarke is gracious, giving thanks to Scott for keeping the early pace going and in doing so sacrificing his own chances. He praises the crowd and the weather, commenting that in Australia there are three kinds of weather: hot, windy and hot and windy.
Clark is not the only world record holding distance runner in attendance. Peter Snell is making his final tour of the US and tonight faces Jim Grelle, Jim Ryun, Cary Weisiger, Bob Schul and Josef Odlozil in the mile. Three laps are covered with the field tightly together in 3:01and the crowd of 12,160 waits to see who will make the first move. They don't have to wait long. With 300 left, Snell goes to the afterburners. Grelle and Ryun respond but not until the Olympic champ has opened six yards. Around the final curve Snell's lead diminishes. Grelle has two yards on Ryun, but it appears both may catch Snell. With 50 yards left, Grelle comes abreast of Snell. Neither have a gear left. Shoulder to shoulder they race. Snell outleans Grelle at the tape for the victory in 3:56.4 for both. Ryun, no longer a high school boy, as he graduated two days earlier, has to settle for third in a PR of 3:56.8. Odlozil, never in the final chase, crosses the line in 3:57.6.
The highlight of the field events is the discus where Jay Silvester hands world record holder Ludvik Danek only his second loss in two years, 203-5 ½ to 200-5½ .
Discus throwers are a gregarious group. Instead of getting together for a post meet beer, they decide to meet tomorrow morning at Long Beach State where the discus throwing conditions are among the finest in the world. This is time well spent as Danek comes within nine inches of his WR with a throw of 211-0 ½. Silvester can't be upset with his second place as he throws 210-6 to break Al Oerter's American record by four feet.
Now we skip across the Atlantic to Lorient, France where, on June 6, Jazy takes on Mohamed Gamoudi, last years Olympic silver medalist at 10,000 meters. The Frenchman's goal today is 13:50. Jazy separates from the field early and surprises himself with a 13:34.4, taking Kuts' European record by six tenths.
A believer in striking while the iron is hot, a confident Jazy sets his eyes on Peter Snell's 3:54.1 mile world record in a meet three days later in Rennes. The weather is an optimum 60 degrees, but the track is not considered fast. This is definitely a record attempt. Jazy will have help early on. Jean Kerveadou takes the field through a 56.5 first lap as Jazy sits fifth in 57.3. Long time teammate Jean Wadoux continues the hot pace, clocking 1:55.7 with Jazy at 1:56.5. Jazy takes the lead on the third lap. A 60.9 lap leaves him at 2:57.4 at the bell. Now it is the gallant Frenchman against the clock. He passes 1500 in 3:38.4, the same time he ran five years ago when he was second to Herb Elliot in the Rome Olympics. When he hits the finish he is pretty sure he has broken his European record but has to wait for the announcement of the official time – 3:53.6 – before knowing he has broken Snell's world record. He thanks his pacemakers and says that, were the race held at the start of the meet before the track had been chewed up, he feels that he could have run 3:52.

Here is a silent film of that 3:53.6
Jazy WR mile

Remember Jazy's strike while the iron is hot philosophy? He'll be on the track the day after tomorrow in Paris where he will attempt to break Ron Clarke's newly established WR at 5000 meters.

Once again we ocean hop, this time landing in Toronto, Canada the following day where Ron Clarke will attempt to better his recently established WR at three miles. He doesn't get it but he runs faster than anyone not named Ron Clarke, 13:03.4. Second and third place finishers, Ron Larrieu and Billy Mills, break Bob Schul's 13:15.6 America record with times of 13:11.4 and 13:12.0.

A day has passed and we are in France once again where Michel Jazy will attempt to erase Ron Clarke's name from the record books in the 5000. Following pacesetters for the first 2000, he is slightly ahead of Clarke's record pace. At 3000 he is ahead of Clarke's time by two seconds at 8:01.7. The early tempo takes its toll in the fourth kilometer and he falls a second and a half behind Clarke's pace. He finishes well, but not well enough to break the record. He breaks the tape at 13:29.0, besting his European record and breaking Bruce Tulloh's European record for three miles by 6.4 seconds at 13:05.6.

Peter Snell will be finishing his great career in Europe at the end of the month. Track fans anticipate a race between the two. No, that won't happen. Jazy and family have a vacation planned.

On the same day (and the next), back across the Atlantic we go once again, from Paris to Bakersfield for the USTFF championships where we witness two collegiate records. Bob Day of UCLA and Gerry Lindgren of Washington State run with virtually no competition, winning the mile and the six mile by wide margins. Day runs aggressively, splitting 58.5, 1:57.0 and 2:56.5 en route to taking the NCAA record away from Tom O'Hara by half a second in 3:56.4 and improving his PR by 2.5 seconds. Lindgren doesn't match his PR but he doesn't need to as he clips 14 seconds from Al Lawrence's collegiate record with a 28:21.8 clocking.

Stanford may have the pending world record in the 440 relay, but you can't live on your press clippings. San Jose State, one of the Indian's victims in their record run, turns the tables on them this day. The Spartans equal the current US record as Wayne Hermen, Lloyd Murad, Maurice Compton and Tommy Smith combine to clock 40.0.

On the same day, 285 miles up highway 99, the Pacific Association AAU holds its championship and apparently a couple out of towners feel welcome. Ludvik Danek hurls the discus 206-9½ , not up to his WR but better than any man in history except himself and Jay Silvester. Ralph Boston does the same. His 26-9½ has been bettered only by Igor Ter-Ovanesyan and himself.

This issue of T&FN is filled with juicy tidbits that cry out to be shared. Don't look for Henry Carr in anymore track meets.
The Olympic 200 meter champ has gone the way of fellow gold medal sprinter Bob Hayes signing an NFL contract with the New York Giants. Here is the oddity. Whereas Hayes has a rich college football background, Carr has a career of 12 minutes of football at Arizona State.......A third Olympian is leaving track as well. Long Beach State high jumper John Rambo has just signed an NBA contract with the St. Louis Hawks.......Randy Matson is just a growing boy. Compare these measurements from October 1963 and May 1965, a span of 19 months: bicep 14½” to 15½”; chest 45” to 48½”; thigh 23” to 26”; calf 15” to 17¼“; weight 212 to 255......Ron Clarke has nothing but admiration for competitor and friend Neville Scott of New Zealand who is taking it one day at a time as a recovering alcoholic. “By the 1958 British Empire Games he was drinking 40 or 50 glasses of beer a day.   (It's called 'rehydrating', Ron)

Scott running in second place in 1958 Empire Games in Cardiff Wales.
He was drunk when he lined up for the three mile. But so great was his talent that he finished third in 13:26.2.” He goes on to say that through AA, Scott has stopped drinking. His wife has stuck with him and they are expecting their third child. He now has a good job selling sporting goods and the future looks bright.
We'll close with a quote from Dick Drake. “Abilene Christian's Roger Orrell is a left-handed shot putter who has reportedly used a two turn technique – whatever that is.” How silly! That's as likely to catch on as jumping over the high jump bar backwards.

And so as not to forget the purists among our readers, we feel obligated to report that the back page of this issue is still devoted to an ad for Adidas shoes which may be purchased at Carlsen Import Shoe Company in New York City, Van Dervoort's Hardware (yes, hardware) in Lansing Michigan
and the old standby, Clifford Severn Sporting Goods in Hollywood, CA.

George and Roy,
   What a great post  All of this information is general knowledge but I also wish to personalize it.  1965 was my first year in the sport, my junior year in college.  Ron Clarke against Jazy could have taken place at Capital University where so much looks like our track.  To the right could have been the baseball backstop where I failed to hit enough baseballs.  To the left could have been the houses on Main St.  The man standing in dark warmups looks exactly like our purple warmups at Capital, vintage 1965.  In fact, they probably were the same warmups but just a different color.  The cinder track with the concrete curb was exactly like ours in Columbus.  Only the runners look different, and they indeed are much different, and much faster.
   Next came Richmond Flowers who played a role in the sport much greater than his fast hurdle times.  His father was a congressman from Alabama with the same name.  Since Richmond, Jr. was an outstanding football player as well as a hurdler, the son of an Alabama congressman, the fans in Alabama expected him to go to Tuscaloosa for college.  Instead he chose Tennessee because they had a T&F team.  His hurdling was notable but more important to the people of Alabama was the fact that the Volunteers began to beat the Crimson Tide in football, completely unacceptable to them.  The SEC went from having only one good T&F team, Tennessee, coached by Stan Huntsman, to many in a short time and eventually powerhouses soon after.  Richmond Flowers provided the impetus for the SEC becoming the major T&F conference in America.  I saw him and teammate, Bill High, go second and fifth in the 1969 NCAA at Knoxville behind Villanova's Irv Hall who tied the WR in the 120 yard high hurdles prelims at 13.2.  
   Finally, Jay Silvester's picture with the discus held way back due to his shoulder flexibility reminded me of learning about the discus in Craig Whitmore's living room in Trotwood.  We looked at sequential photographs of many events, using Sylvester as the model for the discus.  Craig was very knowledgeable in every event and motivated me to be the same way even though my only events had been the 880 and mile relay.  I will never forget how Sylvester kept his right leg straight and long to counterbalance his trailing right arm which was also straight, long and far behind the rest of his body.  
   Your posts continue to be reminders of the times when we all followed this sport with such a passion but also reminders us of so many personal events linked to famous people and their well-documented exploits.  They are much like hearing oldies but goodies, or seeing old pictures which jar our memories about our own places and times.  They take us back to our many "where were you when . . ."
   Bill Schnier

Ron Clarke, a real biggie!    Dick Trace

Ron Clarke co-wrote a great book, The Unforgiven Minute, that was a great motivator to me in my youth. Clarke was "Pre" before Prefontaine, as he would rather take the pace, than let a race go slow, even if it meant losing. I admired Clarke's philosophy on betting. He said he never wanted anything he didn't earn. Salazar could learn a few things from Clarke!

Richmond Flowers, Sr. was attorney general of Alabama during George Wallace's tenure, and opposed him on racial segregation.  Bruce Kritzler

I’ve received several messages from my mates in OZ re the death of Ron Clarke.  One of my most memorable running experiences was spending the day with Clarke and other Aussie’s for a run while in Melbourne, Australia competing in March, 1968.  We met at Clarke’s home and got in about 12 miles.  After the run we stopped to have a beer at Clarke’s and he pulled out some films, one of which was his 1965 race at White City when he shattered the 13 minute mark for three miles (12:52).  I think he broke the old record by some 13 seconds.  I believe the film, which was 35mm and black and white, had been sent to him by someone connected at the BBC and it was a thrill to watch…all of us cheering like mad.  I wish France, rather than Mexico City, had won the ’68 Olympic bid as the altitude was a killer for those of us from sea level, and I believe Clarke would have won either or both the 5K or 10K as a result.  Preston Davis,  U. of Texas 1966

No comments:

V6 N. 47 George Scott R.I.P.

John Lawson, former U. of Kansas All American sent us this note about the passing of George Scott former New Mexico and Oklahoma City U.  ed...