Tuesday, September 22, 2015

V 5 N. 87 Europe, It's August , 1965

August '65 Europe Still Going Strong

   The July issue of T&F News went to press before Ron Clarke could put the cherry on top of his European tour. Actually it was more than the cherry; it was the entire hot fudge sundae, whipped cream, nuts, chocolate sauce and all.

    In the British AAA Championship held July 10 in London, Clarke destroyed his own three mile world record with a brilliant 12:52.4 run. This was his 14th race in 45 days in seven countries since leaving Australia. Well done, Ron. Time to pack up your bags and head home.

    But Ron Clarke's mind doesn't work that way. As long as he is here, why not run just one more race? This one is 10,000 meters four days later in Oslo, Norway. To say that the competition is minimal would not be an overstatement. It consists of Ireland's Jim Hogan and Denmark's Claus Borsen. That's it. Three guys running 25 laps. Time to hit the concession stand for some more of that pickled herring.

     No, maybe not. The crowd of 15,563 knows what it is seeing. Ron Clarke never mails one in. He is the Energizer Bunny. Wind him up and off he goes. Borsen drops back in the first kilometer. Another kilometer and Hogan is gone. Now it is Clarke against the clock.
Clarke begins to scatter the Olso field

    When the 5000 mark is passed in 13:45.0, a stadium record by 1.8 seconds, it is obvious that something special is in the making. Excitement grows with each lap. The fact that Hogan has been lapped and Borsen lapped a couple times means nothing. It is today's Ron Clarke against last year's record setting Ron Clarke. The kilos roll by: 2:482:502:502:46. A final kilometer in 2:40.6 seals it. The great Australian has run 27:39.4 to clip 34.6 seconds from his previous record, THIRTY-FOUR SECONDS! That is 200 meters faster than his old record. En route he passed six miles in 26:47.0, retaking the record that Billy Mills and Gerry Lindgren borrowed last month by 24.6 seconds.

    How great a performance this is can be measured by the Portuguese Tables. This evening's effort is worth 1039 points, making it the greatest running performance in history, bettered only by Randy Matson's 70-7 shot put worth 1043 points. Oddly, Clarke has made the greatest performance list twice in one race as his six mile time is rated as the 11th greatest ever.

    Does Clarke make a tour of the track, soaking up the crowd's applause? No, he does a few stretching exercises then cheers Hogan and Borsen as they finish.
Clark's magnificence overshadows some remarkable efforts by Belgium's Olympic champion, Gaston Roelants, and East Germany's Jurgen May and Siegfried Herrman. May takes records from Michel Jazy and Peter Snell. His 3:36.4 lops 1.4 seconds off Jazy's European 1500 meter record and moves him to number two on the all time list behind Elliot at 3:35.6. Snell has lost his mile record to Jazy. Now he sits in the stands and watches May take his 1000 meter WR by four tenths in 2:16.2. It has been a tough summer for the great Kiwi.
Jurgen May
Siegfried Hermann

    Two weeks later May is on the track in another record attempt but this time in a supporting role. Teammate Siegfried Herrman, the indoor record holder at 3000 meters, is attempting to add the outdoor record at this distance. May is with him for 1800 before giving way. Hermann finishes with blazing 2:27.0 kilometer to clip three seconds off Jazy's record with a 7:46.0 clocking. In fairness it must be said that Jazy's mark was en route to his 8:22.6 two mile a month earlier.
Gaston Roelants

    Gaston Roelants is the steeplechase record holder at 8:29.6. He plans to move up to the 5000 and 10,000 for next year's European Championships but wants to lower his record to 8:25 before then. He doesn't do that in the Belgium championships but he can't be too disappointed as he clips 3.2 seconds off his world record, reducing it to 8:26.4. Good job, Gaston. What will you do now, go to Disneyland? No, Roelants is made of the same stuff as Ron Clarke. The next day he runs 10,000 meters in 28:24.0 to move to fourth on the all time list.

    The blogging colossus that is Once Upon a Time in the Vest runs off issues of Track and Field News, but when our team of crack reporters opened the vault they found the issues for the last six months of 1965 were missing. A code red search ensued. The entire top floor of offices, high atop the OUTV Building, was gone over with a fine tooth comb. Administrative assistants, interns, a couple department heads, a vice president and even our parking garage superintendent were enlisted in the search, but to no avail. The future of our entire blogging empire was at risk.

    Then we did what we have done in the past. We screamed like little girls. That done, we contacted the former University of New Mexico half mile ace, Pete Brown of Plano, Texas. Once again Pete was kind enough to loan us the needed issues. We are indebted to him and would like to suggest that when the gang gathers at the Dew Drop Inn next Friday, glasses be raised in his honor. Thank you, Pete.


In the summer of 1963 I was running Europe and in Stockholm, Gaston Roelants was there and ran and easily won the 3000M steeplechase.  Later we all went to a party the meet officials threw for us and I was shocked to see Gaston puffing one cigarette after another.   I was young, I think just 19.  Shocker. 

Chuck Frawley


I'm sure Roelants taking a puff was indeed a shocker, but I've found that quite a few of the internationals in France as well liked their smokes.  When the French  ran a dual meet in Canada back in the 70's,  there were a lot of smokers on that team. Lots of our coaches were smokers back then.   Also I recall hearing that  Michel Jazy and Jim Beatty were fond of cigarettes as well when they were setting records.    I've seen a video done in the early 1950s of Jesse Owens endorsing cigarettes.  If I can find that one again I'll put it on this blog.  Many baseball players were on the 'team' for Camels and Ligget and Myers back in the day.  Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were two that come to mind.   George

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