Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

V 6 N. 29 Info on Jamie Nieto Injury and Fundraiser

Jamie Nieto

Some of you may already be aware of the spinal injury Jamie Nieto suffered while coaching a group of youngsters.  A funraising site has been set up to help him financially during his recovery.  Click on link above.

From The Daily Mail    Former US Olympic high jumper Jamie Nieto was paralyzed in a training accident Saturday - after he canceled his health insurance to save money.
Nieto, 39, was working with would-be Olympians at Azusa Pacific University in California when he landed on his head during a backflip, suffering a severe spinal injury. 

For anyone who does not know, Jamie is a two-time Olympian and four-time USA Champion in the high jump. He earned his place on the podium the right way, through hard work and dedication to his craft. He is now a private coach for an elite group of jumpers, in addition to an actor, writer, and producer. Those within the track world and beyond are fond of his regular interview series, Holla Athcha Boy, where he interviews world class and Olympic athletes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

V 6 N 28 Photo Request, Earl Young, and Support Your Local Shoe Store

You probably noted that last week we made an appeal for photos of  Dr. Otto Peltzer's indoor race tour in 1928.   We are also sending out a request for photo information on another event,  the Coliseum Compton Invitational  5000 meters of 1968.   The request comes from Rich Elliott, editor of the book Runners on Running, one of the best running books on the market.  Rich actually ran in that 5000.  Here is his request.

I see where you sometimes make announcements about those of us who are searching for photos.
I was wondering if you can help me with this one:
I am writing an article about distance running in 1968.
I am wondering if anyone might have photos of the Coliseum-Compton Invitational of June 7, 1968.
In particular, photos of the 5000 meters race.
If photos exist, people can contact me at:  richkelliott1@comcast.net.
Here is a list of the runners in that race:
1. Ron Clarke
2. Bob Day
3. Tracy Smith
4. Van Nelson
5. Juan Martinez
6. Mario Perez
7. Alvaro Mejia
8. John Kennedy
9. Tim Danielson
10. Rich Elliott (yours truly)
11. Ed Norris 
 Joe Lynch and Lou Scott may have also competed in the race.
Thanks for your help!
Rich Elliott

This week we will most likely get our   250,000th hit on our little blog.  Never thought it would get to this level, even though cute puppy or animal rescue sites get those numbers in a matter of hours.   Of course Roy and Steve and I have probably accounted for 100,000 of those hits ourselves.  We enjoy all the connections this work has created not just for ourselves but for others who have been able to reconnect without going through the machinations of Facebook.  

A  few other things to note:

Earl Young has become the face on a book cover.  Check those quads.  He says it is probably a 4x100 at Penn Relays.   He held off Frank Budd on the last leg and the team clocked 40.1 (cinders).  

The book is a novel by a member of the British band,  The Smiths.  Reviews not that great.  However Earl's kids are impressed.  Earl doesn't even  know the band.  He was told by the publisher that the photo is part of the public domain and he wouldn't have the legal right to contest the use of the photo.  They did however offer to make a contribution to Earl's foundation for Bone Marrow Transplant Research and Registration.  We found reference to the book on the blog  Go Feet, you can find a rather less than positive review of the novel on that site.

Support Your Local Shoe Store
           Ryan and Amanda King

End of March first of April I made a trip back to my roots in Dayton, Ohio.  Had a chance to reconnect with old friends, Steve Price, Bill Schnier, Phil Scott, Tim Buckman and many others.  Met Ryan and Amanda King the owners of a great little running store   Can't Stop Running in Piqua , Ohio.  

  Phil Scott had a few items from his running shoe collection on display in the store  including Joe Deloach's Mizunos,  that   along with Joe's legs and heart,  kept  Carl Lewis off the top of the 200 meters podium in 1988 in Seoul.   To see some of Phil's collection including that DeLoach heartbreaker, click on the link  below:

Phil said he got those shoes on E bay for less than the cost of shipping them.

These little independent stores are the backbone of the running shoe market for people who really buy shoes to run, jog and race in.   The billions of dollars that Nike, New Balance, Brooks  and the rest make are from non runners who just like to be seen in stylish clothing and shoes and buy their stuff at Walmart, Target, Hudson's Bay, Discount Outlets and the like.  One of the challenges the small stores face is online purchasing.  People go to the small stores to try on shoes, get knowledgeable technical advice, then go home and order the shoes for a few bucks less online.  So if you as a runner want to see these stores stay in business, you need to support them by shopping and buying on site, that means in the store.   
Adam King with the Garby/Gorby Shoe

 Of special interest was another pair of shoes that belonged to 'Scott Garby'  of Piqua who ran a 1:52+ 880 at the NCAA meet in 1926.    There is a  little discrepancy when I looked up the result on the TF&N  site.
The Scott Garby/John Gorby 1926 shoe

The 880 race in 1926 was  probably held  at Soldier Field.  The track was mismeasured and declared to be  23' 3" short.  The actual race distance was 872.25 yards or 797.6 meters.  
The winner was Alva Martin a Northwestern senior in a corrected time of 1:52.0. Actual time was 1:51.7.    Second was Walter Caine of Indiana in a corrected time of 1:52.8.   Scott Garby (listed in results as John Gorby) a Northwestern sophmore was third and no time given.    "No time" does not appear to be unusual in the 1920s for the also rans in NCAA results.    So if the listing on the shoes in the store of 1:52, is to be believed we can assume that John Gorby (Scott Garby) was right on the heels of the second place finisher.   

So next time you're tooling down the pike on I-75 north of Dayton and have a little time on your hands, pull into Piqua, do not stop at the Mall,  go downtown to 321 N. Main St.  Can't Stop Running, get some good advice, a pair of shoes and sign up for the next local race that the store is busy promoting.  On a good day you might even  get a free cup of coffee.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

V 6 N. 27 Boston Marathon Wrap and Gary Corbitt's Historical Analysis

By now, most of you know that the 2016 Boston Marathon served as the Ethiopian or should I say EPOpian Olympic trials.   I can say that in gest only because it is well known that Ethiopia does little or no drug testing of their athletes.  How could this cash strapped country expect to allocate precious resources to set up a testing lab in Addis Ababa and send technicians out to the hinterlands to find their hundreds of runners to get a blood or urine sample?  Home country testing is supposed to be the frontline of world wide drug testing expected to police the sport.   Assuming that that home testing is always going to be somewhat suspect in any country responsible for putting clean athletes on the starting line, the World Anti Doping Agency was set up to be the failsafe mechanism to assure us that when we buy a ticket to an international track meet or just turn on our TVs that we are watching a game being contested on a level playing field.  Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny , and international bankers are honest people who really care about others.

 Just a few comments on the race.  Can any of you without looking it up name the two winners?   Well they were Lemi Berhanu Hayle 2:12:45  and Atsede Baysa  2:29.18   The first time since 1986 a Boston area runner finished in the top ten, Zachary Hines was 10th  in 2:21:37.  The first American female was 9th placer Neely Spence Gracey in 2:35:00.     At first I was sad that there didn't seem to be any locals in the lead pack. Then I remembered that the Americans had just had their Olympic Trials, so that eliminated the possibility of seeing some sub 2:12 Yanks in the men's race.  Same for the women.  OK.  And as you will see below in Gary Corbitt's historical look at Boston, there were many years that Americans did not dominate the Boston Marathon.
So guys lets just suck it up and wait for next year when the homies will be back on the starting line at Hopikinton.   Lastly, the marathon proved once again the challenge to find commentators who can make the race interesting.  I had to turn the sound off to keep from changing the station and watching Let's Make a Deal.  Inane comments seem to be the norm in marathon broadcasting.  Can't the producers find a Dick Bank out there to spice things up?  When Larry Rawson started giving stats in the Metric System including the height and weight of runners, I knew this broadcast was not geared to the American public.  Also how many people watching that broadcast could relate to a minutes per kilometer pace?  I've been trying for years up here in Canada  and still can't make the transition.  Ok, we Yanks are  dumb on this, so to appeal to your dumb audience, let's dumb it down a bit, puleeeze.

Below is Gary Corbitt's most recent post on his great blog covering some of the most interesting bits  of Boston Marathon history.

Boston Marathon History
42 Years Ago Ted Corbitt (1919 – 2007)
4/15/74 Ted Corbitt’s last Boston Marathon at age 55 in2:49:16 was only 34 seconds slower than his first in 1951.  The patches and wires on his chest were for a medical experiment done by Joan Ullyot MD.  This was his 175thmarathon; including 22 Boston runs.

44 Years Ago in Boston Marathon History
Nina Kuscsik
4/17/72 Nina Kuscsik became the first official women’s winner of the Boston Marathon.  The women’s division had eight starters and finishers.
  1. 1.       Nina Kuscsik – 3:10:26
  2. 2.       Elaine Pederson – 3:20:35
  3. 3.       Kathrine Switzer – 3:29:51
  4. 4.       Pat Barrett- 3:40:29
  5. 5.       Sara Mae Berman – 3:48:30
  6. 6.       Valerie Rogosheske
  7. 7.       Ginny Collins – 4:04
  8. 8.       Frances Morrison

39 Years Ago
Marilyn Bevans
The First Lady of African American Long Distance Running
April 18, 1977 Marilyn Bevans finished second to Miki Gorman at the Boston Marathon in a time of 2:51:12.  102 women finished under 4 hours.  She would record her personal best marathon time of 2:49:56 in 1979 at Boston.

105 Years Ago  
Clarence Harrison DeMar – Mr. DeMarathon
(1888 – 1958)
4/19/11 Clarence DeMar wins his first of 7 Boston Marathons in a course record 2:21:39. The race had 127 starters.
4/19/30 Clarence DeMar age 41 wins his 7th Boston Marathon in 2:34:48.  The race had 216 entrants.

82 Years Ago
Augustus “Gus” Johnson
4/19/34 Augustus Johnson became the first known African American to finish in the top 20 in the Boston Marathon.  His time of 2:55:39 earned him 14th place overall.  A native of Lansing, Kansas, Johnson would go on to record top 20 finishes four more times between 1936 and 1940.

81 Years Ago
John Adelbert “Johnny” Kelley – Old Kelley ( The Elder)
(1907 – 2004)
4/19/35 John A. Kelley wins the Boston Marathon for the first time in 2:32:07 over Pat Dengis.  He would again win in 1945 in one of the fastest times in the world that year of2:30:40.
Old Kelley started in 61 Boston Marathons.  He had seven 2nd place finishes and was in the top 10 another 18 times.  He was a two time Olympian in 1936 and 1948 for the marathon. 

68 Years Ago  
Ted Vogel – 1948 Olympian
4/19/48 Ted Vogel places 2nd to Gerald Cote missing a Boston victory by a mere 44 seconds.  Cote winning time was the fastest time in the world for 1948 of 2:31:02.
Ted Vogel represented the first generation of track runners who moved into road running and changed the sport.  He along with track runners Charley Robbins, Tommy Crane, Bob Black, Clayton Farrar and Lou Gregory were part of a transformational period in the history of long distance running.

67 Years Ago
Louis C. “Lou” White – A Renaissance Sportsman
(1908 – 1990)
4/19/49 Lou White finished third at the Boston Marathon in2:36:48 and recorded the highest finish ever for an African American.  Representing the New York Pioneer Club, he would win national championships in 1950 & 1951 at 15K and 10 Miles. 

61 Years Ago
Nicholas George “Nick” Costes
(1926 – 2003)

4/19/55 Nick Costes finished third place and was the first American finisher in 2:19:57 at the Boston Marathon.  The course during these years was a bit short.
Nick Costes received his master’s degree in education from Boston University and went on to become a professor of kinesiology at Troy State University. Previously marathoners were laborers, bricklayers, miners, blacksmiths, milkmen, mailmen, and soldiers.  Now the marathon appealed to educated professionals.  Costes was considered a sports scholar.  In 1972 he published a book titled “Interval Training.”

56 Years Ago
Gordon McKenzie – “The Consummate Front Runner”
(1927 – 2013)
4/19/60 Gordon McKenzie of the New York Pioneer Club finished 2nd in 2:22:18 and was the first  American at the Boston Marathon. The 1960 Olympic marathon selection process included a point system based on performances at Boston and Yonkers.  Gordon would be selected for the 1960 Olympic team in the marathon.  He was also was a 1956 Olympian in the 10,000 meters.

53 Years Ago
Abebe Bikila  (1932 – 1973)
Mamo Wolde (1932 – 2002)
4/19/63 Abebe Biklia and Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia set Boston Marathon checkpoint records and were over 2 minutes ahead of the Boston course record at 18 miles.  They would finish 5th and 12th respectively.  This was Bikila’s first loss in a marathon.  There were 183 finishers.

Comment from Richard Trace,  Lakeside, OH, formerly of Oakwood, OH
This was the Boston run by legendary stumbler R. Trace.  I remember standing next to Bikila and Wolde before the start.  They were perfectly proportioned scale models of human beings.  About 7/8 scale.  Before 1/2 mile into the race they had faded away into the distance.  After I did see VanDendriessche and talked to him in the Lennox lobby.  Unassuming, modest guy.  When I got up the following morning sore and stiff, he was coming in from a run.  This was the only marathon lost by Bikila and I have never thought the 4 men who beat him got proper credit for doing so.  VanDendriessche, Kelley, Oksanen and Brian Kilby who wanted to go to Washington, D.C. because "the people there want to see me run".  Seeing the warm greeting between Oksanen and Kelley at the start has stuck in my memory.

50 Years Ago
Roberta Bingay “Bobbi” Gibb – Happy 50th Anniversary!
4/19/66 Bobbi Gibb at age 23 became the first female to complete the Boston Marathon in 3:21:40.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bobbi’s groundbreaking run.  She was the Grand Marshall for this year’s race.  Her three first-place finishes previously relegated to an “Unofficial Era” in the event’s history will now be recognized as part of a “Pioneer Era,” along with Sara Mae Berman.

48 Years Ago
Ambrose “Amby” Joel Burfoot
4/19/68 Amby Burfoot wins the Boston Marathon in 2:22:17as Americans go first and second with Bill Clark in second place.  This is the first American win since John J. Kelley in 1957. 
Old John Kelley mentored Young John Kelley.
Young John Kelley was a mentor to Amby.
Amby mentored Bill Rodgers.
All these gentlemen were winners of this great race.

77 Years Ago
Ellison Myers “Tarzan” Brown
(1914 – 1975)
4/20/36 Tarzan Brown wins the Boston Marathon in 2:33:40. He would win again in 1939 with a course record of 2:28:51.
Tarzan Brown and Thomas Longboat (1907) are the only Native Americans to win this race. Tarzan was a Narragansett Native American with a tribal name of Deerfoot.

59 Years Ago
John Joseph Kelley -  Young Kelley (The Younger)
The Greatest American Distance Runner of his Era
(1930 – 2011)
4/20/57 John Kelley wins the Boston Marathon in record time of 2:20:05 over Finland’s Veikko Karvonen.  This was the first American winner since John A. Kelley in 1945.  Young Kelley would be runner-up at Boston on five occasions.
His eight consecutive national marathon titles at Yonkers (1956 to 1963) are unprecedented.   

52 Years Ago
Hal Higdon – An Original Running Renaissance Man
4/20/64 Hal Higdon was the first American finisher at the Boston Marathon placing 5th in 2:21:55.
Hal Higdon’s career spans all aspects of the sport of running’s development.  He was one of original architects that helped invent the sport.  He was a competitive athlete, running administrator and is a prolific writer. 

47 Years Ago
Sara Mae Berman
4/21/69 Sara Mae Berman finishes the Boston Marathon hand-in-hand with husband Larry.  She was the first female finisher in 3:22:46.  She would go on to win the Boston Marathon the next two years bettering the course record by 16 minutes in 1970 with a 3:05:07.
Sara Mae and Larry Berman were one of the country’s original running couples.  They were one of the original road race course measurers in the New England area.  Sara Mae was the first female officer for the Road Runners Club of America (1966-1967).

Sara Mae competed in her first road race in June 1964 as an unofficial entrant.  Her outstanding life was acknowledged in 2015 with an induction in the Road Runners Club of American Hall of Fame. 

Women Boston Marathon Champions:
1966: Roberta Gibb – 3:21:40
1967: Roberta Gibb – 3:27:17
1968: Roberta Gibb – 3:30:00
1969: Sara Mae Berman – 3:22:46
1970: Sara Mae Berman – 3:05:07
1971: Sara Mae Berman – 3:08:30
1972: Nina Kuscsik – 3:10:26

To learn more running history:
Like – Ted Corbitt Pioneer on Facebook
Follow @corbittg on Twitter

Sunday, April 17, 2016

V 6 N. 26 Dr. Otto Peltzer, a Pioneer on Many Fronts

We are privileged to post the following chapter from an about to be published book,
 His Own Man, by Tim Johnston on Dr. Otto Peltzer, the German world record holder of the 800 meters  and other distances back in the 1920s.  Some of you will remember Mr. Johnston as Great Britain's eighth place finisher in the Mexico City  Olympic Marathon.  He was the man just behind Derek Clayton and ahead of lumineries like Gaston Roelants, Kenny Moore, George Young, Naftali Temu, and Ron Daws on that day.

Mr. Johnston is still searching for photographic documentation of Dr. Peltzer's series of indoor races in North America in 1928 when he raced against America's best middle distance men. 
If any of our readers have access to or knowledge of where to find photos of those Madison Square Garden, Boston and Chicago races, please do not hesitate to contact us at:   irathermediate@gmail.com.  

Interest in track and field was phenomenal in those days as seen in issues of the Chicago Tribune.  See following link.  These races made the top of the sports pages.  I've learned so much about Lloyd Hahn and Ray Conger as well as Peltzer from Tim Johnston's writing.

Please note that footnotes are not in a standard convention.  This was due to editing difficulties with Google Blogs.  The two pictures below were taken from Google Images.

Hahn Conger Peltzer Race

So sit back and enjoy this account of track and field in a truly golden age.

Dr. Otto Peltzer

12—New Worlds
Calvin Coolidge’s presidency (1923-1929) had ushered in a period of unprecedented prosperity for the United States. Wall Street rose two-and-a-half times, making Coolidge, despite his taciturnity and lack of charisma, an extremely popular president. It was the Jazz Age, the age of excess, a joyous window between the First World War and the trauma of the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression.  There was a passion for spectacle, particularly sporting spectacle, enthusiastically nourished  by ubiquitous press and radio reporters and their photographer colleagues. Arriving at New York on board the luxurious Columbus, flagship of the Norddeutsche Lloyd line, Dr. Otto Peltzer was welcomed as a world celebrity. Even before the ship docked, journalists had swarmed aboard, questioning him about his plans; he was showered with invitations to attend dinners and receptions and give speeches, photographed running laps of the deck.

Peltzer claimed to have two main aims in touring the country: to get to know his likely opponents at the forthcoming Olympics and to learn about educational and sporting facilities within the U.S. school and collegiate systems. Wickersdorf had granted him leave of absence, and his wealthy godfather, Paul Millington Herrmann (who had given him his Mr. Toad car), had agreed to finance the entire trip. While ensuring his financial independence, this gave Otto’s enemies another opportunity to query his amateur status. As a result, the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) joined with its German counterpart in refusing him permission to compete.
Meanwhile, as sociologist/social anthropologist, Peltzer set about observing and analysing the life of the inhabitants of the world’s richest, most powerful country. While flattered by his welcome, he seemed to find the Americans almost as strange as Fanny Trollope had done almost a century before in the best-selling account of her visit, Domestic Manners of the Americans. Everybody was always in a hurry. Family and social life were frighteningly superficial. People only went home to change their clothes and sleep. They ate in dreary self-service cafeterias, or bought ready-made sandwiches from ‘dragstores’, of whose malted milk and fruit juices Peltzer appeared, however, to approve. On Sundays they drove miles out of town, not to admire the countryside, but in search of a ‘Negro-Chickenbar’, where they would stop to gobble down a meal saturated in unhealthy oils and fats, or else they pulled off the highway, spread a rug among the dust and litter and ‘picnicked’ on sandwiches.
However, there were also more positive apects. Otto Peltzer was a celebrity: everywhere he went, he was honoured and feted. He met and chatted with Ted Meredith, his predecessor as half-mile world-record holder. Like Nurmi, he was taken to the White House and introduced to President Coolidge. Sadly, we have no record of what passed between the great athlete and the famously taciturn President. When Peltzer visited high schools, he found that, as holder of the world record for the 880 yards, the longest distance over which high-schoolers were allowed to compete, his name was at the top of every honours board. As he moved west and south across the country, visiting schools and colleges, he was constantly impressed by the high standard of scholastic sport, noting that some colleges were strong enough to take on national teams. But he regretted the lack of the moral and intellectual training that he felt should accompany sporting development. The educational system was not producing ‘whole men’. Above all, he deplored the obsession with making money. Everything within the system seemed to be geared towards ‘getting rich’. While properly impressed by Yellowstone Park and the Grand Canyon, he also observed and deplored the mid-western dustbowls created by deforestation. He remarked on the obsession with violence of popular culture: the average western included so many deaths that human life ceased to have any value.
Otto celebrated Christmas at his godfather’s house in California. He pointed out that the local Christmas Eve, in place of the traditional German contemplative family evening, with the quiet exchange of presents and singing of Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht, had become an unbridled celebration, more akin to Carnival, or to the Munich Bierfest. He took the opportunity to visit the newly constructed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and run a few laps of the track where the 1932 Olympics were to be held*. 
*Curiously, in view of the problems he would have in 1932, Peltzer makes no mention of the unusually hard track surface; See Capter 16.

Before leaving New York, he had met Mike Murphy, coach to Yale University, who claimed to have invented the sprinters’ crouch start. They had had long technical discussions on foot placement, which Peltzer took up again with the Californian coaches. With remarkable prescience, he insisted on the importance not so much of the actual start, but of the ensuing pick-up phase. He felt that it was important that, in the start position, the feet should be placed relatively close together, so that the initial strides, while the runner was accelerating, were also short and close together. He was introduced to an eighteen-year-old high-school sprinter called Frank Wykoff, who had just set a new national record for the 100 yards*.

*Wykoff would go to run a new world record of 9.4 seconds and win relay golds in three successive Olympics, contesting the dominance of American and world sprinting of black athletes.

In New Year 1928, permission unexpectedly came through for Peltzer to compete. He began with a 440 yards against one-eyed Bill Spencer, who had beaten him several times in Europe. As was not uncommon in the States at that time, the quarter started in a tunnel beneath the stands, joining the track proper at the start of the back-straight, thus giving the runners a 220 yards straightaway and a single bend. There were no lanes. Up against a field of pure sprinters, Otto was able to open out his stork’s stride on the long straight, running Spencer, winner in 49 seconds dead, to within one-tenth of a second at the tape. He followed up this excellent opening run by twice running a straight 220 in 21.8. He had clearly not lost any speed in his three months without competition. But he was now faced with a series of far sterner tests: three races on the tiny American indoor tracks. The standard racing distance of 1000 yards involved negotiating up to seven tight, one-hundred-and-eighty degree bends. Peltzer, with his long, fluent stride, was at a serious disadvantage against the more compactly built, quick-striding Americans like Ray Conger, Bill Dodge and indoor specialists Joie Ray and Lloyd Hahn.
The first of a series of three indoor races was to be held in New York, on 2 February 1928, at Tex Rickard’s newly refurbished Madison Square Garden—the same Tex Rickard who, two years before, after Otto’s famous victory over Wide and Nurmi, had offered him $250,000 to turn professional. The Garden could accommodate 20,000 spectators for a track meet, double that for a major boxing event. Hemmed in by the banked cycle track, the 160-yard board track (11 laps to the mile) was just three runners wide, with tight, flat bends reminiscent of the original Olympic stadium in Greece. In addition, there were the problems peculiar to performing in front of 20,000 human beings packed into an enclosed, inadequately ventilated space. In his biography of Jewish middle-distance champion Abel Kiviat (b.1892), Alan Katchen refers to complaints by indoor competitors of ‘what was euphemistically called “indoor sickness”, causing ‘nausea, labored breathing and the like’. After narrowly losing the gold medal to ‘gentleman amateur’ Arnold Strode-Jackson in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic 1500m, then gaining gold in the 3000m team race, Kiviat went on to become America’s oldest surviving Olympian, dying in 1991 at age 99—which suggests that ‘indoor sickness’ couldn’t have had any lasting after-effects. 
See Alan Katchen, Abel Kiviat, National Champion, Syracuse University Press 2009, p. 76.

In Beyond Glory, the story of the battles for the world heavyweight boxing title in the 1920s and 30s, (many of which were held in the Garden), David Margolick described a knock-out punch as materialising out of ‘an atmosphere made milky by tobacco smoke and resin dust’*.
*David Margolick, Beyond Glory, Knopf Doubleday 2010, p. 40.

Even Willis Carrier’s  new, centrifugal air-conditioning was said to be insufficient to disperse the haze of cigarette and cigar smoke. For his part, Paavo Nurmi claimed to find the swirling clouds of cigar smoke ‘invigorating’.
Peltzer must have found the conditions trying, but in his memoirs he doesn’t complain. His only grievance is that the restrictive attitude of the German and U.S. athletics authorities had not given him the opportunity to accustom himself to the specific exigencies of racing on the U.S. indoor circuit. Having worked so intensively on his speed, while being short of distance work, he would have preferred his first race to be the 600 yard event, but eventually settled for a specially arranged half-mile. Arthur E. Grix, the U.S. correspondent for Der Leichtathlet, published a long report on the event:
Crowds throng the entrance to Madison Square Garden. Programme and newspaper sellers shout themselves hoarse. The name “Peltzer” is on everyone’s lips—a name that draws in thousands who have never before attended an athletics meeting. The boxes are packed with the cream of New York resplendent in evening dress, headed by Mayor Walker. The Garden is filled to the rafters: sold out! Everyone wants to witness the struggle between the national indoor specialists and the new German holder of the world record, grabbed away from their own Olympic champion, James Meredith.
Peltzer steps unobtrusively onto the infield. But his height gives him away. The crowd rises and applauds. A huff from the mike: Peltzer will not be starting in the invitation half-mile event as announced; there are insufficient entrants. The world-record holder will be running in the open 1000 yards. Excitement ripples through the crowd: it’s a strong field, led by favourites Bill Dodge and Olympic bronze medallist Schuyler Enck: eleven runners, far too many for the narrow track.
Mayor Walker fires the gun. CLICK! The gun misfires. Everybody back! Peltzer rises from his crouch-start, protests that some of the runners have their feet over the line. The gun fires again. Peltzer disappears from view, then resurfaces in seventh place, desperately struggling in the mad scramble for position. Pushed and kicked, he pushes and kicks back. When he tries to take the lead, other runners shove him out of the way. Finally he has had enough, you can see it in his face! On the fourth of the fourteen long straights, he switches to the outside lane. With giant strides, he storms past the entire field and takes the lead. This is the high-point of the race, what the crowd has come for. A mighty cheer goes up: the German has justified his reputation.
Peltzer slows slightly on the bend, lets a runner past, allowing him to make the pace. But two, three others force their way into the lead: Bill Dodge, Schuyler Enck... But Peltzer isn’t done: on the penultimate straight, to the astonishment of the crowd he sweeps into the lead again. Dodge hangs on, as if attached to the leader by a chain. As they exit the final bend, he tries to pass. But Peltzer is on his guard, sprints again, breaks the tape three yards clear.
The crowd go wild: wave hats and scarves, toss programmes and scraps of paper; just like at a baseball game. Clearly exhausted, Peltzer collapses onto a pile of wood shavings by the pole-vault pit, wrapped in a blanket. Then the band strikes up the Deutschlandlied. Everyone rises, bare-headed. In the centre of the hall, the slim, blond German stands erect, black eagle on his chest, proudly contributing to healing the gulf between two great nations striving towards peaceful co-operation.
Grix remarks on the slow time: 2:18.6, outside two-minute pace for the half-mile. But that was readily explicable by the excessively large field, and the extra distance Peltzer had to run as a result of all the pushing and shoving, which Grix estimates at a minimum of 14 metres, equivalent to more than 2 seconds.
‘Before the race,’ continues Grix, ‘Peltzer was extremely nervous, and his mood was not improved when an official, having failed to recognise him, tried to make him leave the track during his warm-up. What was astonishing was the obstinacy with which, far from home, without a coach or companion, he fought to impose himself on the race. But that is what endeared him to the American public, who have no time for European sensitivity’.
Grix also reported on a visit to Peltzer’s hotel the next day. He finds the champion lying in bed, wearing his habitual grey pullover. His voice is hoarse: he has a cold, result of training on the fifteen-storey-high flat roof of Wanamaker’s Hotel. On the table, Grix notes a letter to one of Peltzer’s Wickersdorf pupils, who has broken his leg skiing. Instead of writing home to report on his success, the champion is writing to express sympathy to a young unknown. Peltzer, Grix reflects, must be a basically good person. Although it is past 10 a.m., there are still no morning newspapers in the room, although Peltzer could easily have had them delivered. The champion, reports Grix,  thinks himself misunderstood, a prophet without honour in his own country.
‘My dear Peltzer,’ says Grix, ‘you’re too sensitive!’
‘Yes,’ says Peltzer, ‘I admit it, I am very sensitive. But that’s the secret of my success, what enables me to find that extra burst of energy, to rise above myself.’
After breakfast the two men go out for a stroll down Broadway. Peltzer, wearing his customary fur-lined leather flying jacket, quickly attracts attention. Mobbed by autograph hunters, he good-naturedly signs every scrap of paper thrust under his nose. Then they slip away through the traffic and buy the morning papers. In a small park they settle down on a bench in the crisp winter sunshine to read the race reports. PELTZER! scream the headlines in bold capitals. Not a single paper denies his achievement against the odds, or disputes his class. All agree that he is no indoor runner: his long stride simply isn’t suited to the tight curves.  
Otto’s second race was to be ten days later, at the Knights of Columbus meeting in Chicago. It promised to be even more of a challenge than the New York event: not only would he be facing Bill Dodge again, out to get his revenge after their brawling encounter at the Garden; there would also be Ray Conger, whom Otto had easily defeated in his world-record 1000m race in Paris, but who was currently in top form on the boards, having just got the better of indoor king Lloyd Hahn in a rousing finish in a 1000-yard event in Kansas City.
Before leaving for the mid-west, Peltzer attended some indoor events for black athletes in Harlem. He noted twelve-year-olds running fantastic 400-metre relay times. This, he commented prophetically, was the foundation for future American athletics success: already supreme in the sprints, hurdles and high jump, the blacks were now preparing to dominate the middle distances.
In Chicago, Otto worked out on the indoor track at the University of Chicago gym. To his dismay, on the morning of the race he discovered that the event was not to be run on the normal board track, but in a hall used for equestrian events. The track was a mix of sawdust, dirt and. . . dried horseshit! The smell made his eyes water. His short indoor spikes could get no purchase. He rushed out to buy a pair of longer ones, but found that these, too, were inadequate to cope with the soft, friable surface. When he attempted to deploy his main weapon, his devastating sprint, the long spikes threw up clouds of dirt, but got no traction: it was like running through soft sand. He would have done better to withdraw, but feared accusations of cowardice. To avoid the shoving, kicking and fisticuffs of the New York event, the field was limited to four runners: Peltzer, Dodge, Conger and their old rival Le Larrivee, another indoor specialist. The distance was extended from 1000 yards to 1000 metres, a difference of 100 metres, presumably to avoid starting on a bend. The race was a great deal less eventful than in New York. Larivee led for much of the race, with Peltzer right on his heels, determined not to let either of the other two runners through. However, on the last bend, as the leader eased, in preparation for the sprint, Conger launched a surprise attack. By the time Otto had got round Larrivee, Conger had gained several metres. When he attempted to laumch his sprint, he found himself simply wallowing in horseshit. However, he did manage to hold off Dodge. Second, in the slow time of 2:39.1, to Conger’s 2:37. But he hadn’t been disgraced, and was generously applauded by the crowd.
After the race, Peltzer was invited to speak to the German-American Steuben Society. The meeting was also attended by Count Luckner, famous for his war exploits in the Pacific as the ‘Sea-Devil’ or ‘Merciful Pirate’, commander of the freebooting frigate, Seeadler. At the end of his lecture, to demonstrate his continuing manliness, Luckner was asked to rip up some telephone directories. After he had obliged, a lady called Magda Brandenburg, editor of the society’s newsletter, ‘abducted’ Otto and drove him to her house, where traditional Viennese culture and cuisine were served. Magda was another of the women, fleetingly mentioned, barely acknowledged, yet undoubtedly influential, in Peltzer’s male-dominated life. She would reappear in 1932, when he again travelled to the U.S. for the Los Angeles Olympics. While enjoying the refined food and company, Peltzer nonetheless noted the advantages for an athlete of the American diet, rich in protein and fresh fruit and salads: a healthy diet was a particular obsession with women’s groups; the men simply ate what their wives told them to. However, Otto believed, it was not diet, but schooling that accounted for American sporting dominance.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune datelined 29 January 1928, Peltzer gave his views on American athletes. He was surprised by their success: many smoked, drank strong liquor and regularly ‘indulged’ in coffee; and yet some college teams were good enough to defeat national teams in Europe. He found American women unappealing: they were ‘too fickle’; bobbed hair was ‘humbug’. He liked his beer, but American beer was ‘soup’. He would need at least a week of intensive training to take on Lloyd Hahn in his final race in New York.
Returning to New York, Peltzer found himself involved in a project to set up another progressive, Wickersdorf-type school in Germany. Donors were found, a certain Dr. Ewald appointed trustee. After he returned to Germany, Otto heard no more of the project. His letters to Ewald went unanswered. He had, he wrote, ‘fallen into the hands of a swindler’. By the same token, he only ever received a fraction of the fees he had been promised for his lectures. He had rapidly become acquainted with what he would deplore as the ruling principle of daily life in the Land of the Free: the quick buck.   
The closing competition of Peltzer’s American tour, once again in the Garden, was to be a three-man race. Billed as the Mile of the Century (by 1999, there would have been scores of such events), it would feature Peltzer and his two leading American rivals: Ray Conger (who had just beaten him in Chicago), and King of the Boards, Lloyd Hahn. The latter, a country boy from Falls City, Nebraska, born in 1898, hence two years older than Peltzer, had begun his track career as a sprinter, then progressed to the half-mile and mile (he had finished 6th in the Paris 1500m, and would gain 5th place in the Amsterdam 800 after running a never-ratified world-record of 1:51.4 for the metric distance at the U.S. Olympic Trials). *
*Otto's Stamford Bridge record of 1:51.6 for the imperial distance was in any case intrinsically faster.
His compact build (1m 75 for 70 kg) and short, quick stride made him ideally suited to the tight indoor tracks. The previous year, in winning the Knights of Columbus Mile at the Garden in 4:12.2, he had come within one-fifth of a second of Nurmi’s indoor world best. Second in that race, five yards back, had been Edvin Wide. The press, wrote Peltzer in his memoirs, hyped up the rivalry among the three men, but as far as he was concerned, there could only be one winner: Lloyd Hahn. Nonetheless, he would give it his best shot.
Ever-present Arthur Grix described the event:
By the time the start is announced, the spectators’ excitement has reached fever-pitch. The infield and track are cleared. Hahn and Conger are ready and waiting, but Peltzer is nowhere to be found. At last, after keeping his opponents waiting for four, nerve-wracking minutes, our athlete strolls onto the track in his grey sweat-suit—to be greeted with a tremendous round of applause.
Visibly twitching with impatience, a half-dozen gentlemen in black lounge-suits wait for Peltzer to fasten his laces. Then come the introductions: “Dr Otto Peltzer, Germany! Holder of the world’s half-mile record!” Uproar from the crowd—in the way only the Americans know how. The band plays the Deutschlandlied. All rise, heads bared and bowed, while Peltzer, erect in his national vest, accepts the tribute to his nation from a country which just ten years before had sought our downfall.
Hahn and Conger are introduced, earning their own share of frantic applause. Mayor Walker fires the gun. The three runners leap from the start-line. At the crown of the bend, after the first ninety-degree turn, Conger and Hahn are already 5 metres up. There are 26 such turns. If Hahn gains 3 metres on each one, by the finish he will have an 80-metre lead over Peltzer. But Peltzer clings on! Roared on by the public, the trio of gladiators circle the track as if their lives depended on it. Hahn completes the first quarter-mile in 60.8 seconds. Three laps run, ten to go. You can see the strain on Peltzer, as he tries to regain on the straights the ground lost on the bends to the local favourites. He loses 5 metres, but his giant’s strides bring him back into contention.
In the seventh lap, halfway through the race, Hahn surges ahead and takes 5 metres. Conger has to let him go. Peltzer tries to pass Conger, but the American fights him off. Staccato-striding Hahn extends his lead. Visibly struggling, Peltzer hangs onto Conger. The bell!  Hahn patters through the 1500m mark in 3:54. Peltzer is staggering, at the end of his tether, seemingly about to step off the track. Then he pulls himself together, remembers where he is, who he is. Relaxed, almost walking the last 5 metres, he jogs across the line.
Hahn had won easily in 4:13.0, just a second shy of Nurmi’s world indoor best, with Conger 20 metres back, and a jogging Peltzer another 20 metres down. Grix continues:
The public roars, the band strikes up the Star-Spangled Banner. The three runners shake hands. Peltzer wraps himself in his blanket and collapses on a heap of wood chips. However, he is not as exhausted as he seems. After a minute he speaks to me; his breathing has returned almost to normal. It was simply, he explains, that his legs had let him down:  they were not used to the distance. When the results are read out, his name in third place is greeted with wild applause. Outside the changing-room, a delegation of gentlemen from the German Embassy in top hats and frock-coats is waiting to shake his hand.
German Ambassador von Prittwitz und Gaffron telegraphed the Foreign Office: ‘Dr Peltzer has done more for Germany’s reputation than ten years of work by the Embassy.’
German-born Harry N Sperber, reporter for the German-American New Yorker Staatszeitung*

*In melting-pot America, the mother-tongue newspapers of the country's various ethnic communities were-and still are- of great significance in providing news and forming opinions.
A hundred-percent successful goodwill tour ends on Saturday, when Dr Peltzer returns home. He can leave us in the knowledge that his tact and diplomatic skills have won innumerable friends: the German national anthem was sung by 30,000 people in the Madison Square Garden. There is something appealing about this man Peltzer, whether you simply observe him from the grandstand in action on the track, or if you have the chance to meet him in person. You can forgive him even his occasional outbursts. He has something of that Lindbergh quality. And it is doubtless this quality that brings him so many friends.
Just days later, in a special race to which Peltzer was also invited, but in which he was refused permission to start by the German athletics authorities, Hahn ran a new world-best—indoors or outdoors—of 1:51.4 (again intrinsically slower than Peltzer’s outdoor record for the imperial distance). In his memoirs, Otto claims to have riposted with a solo run of 1:50.4 in Boston, but there is no supporting evidence for this.  
Peltzer was due to leave for Bremen on the evening of 7 March 1928, which the Americans had realised was the last day of his twenty-eighth year. They organized a banquet, to which a number of high-ranking dignitaries were invited. One speaker after another emphasised the honour Peltzer had done them by choosing to celebrate his birthday in New York. The fact that he had lost his last race was irrelevant; what counted was the way he had fought against the odds, never given up. He had conducted himself like a model sportsman.
After his return to Germany, an article in Der Leichtathlet pointed out how Peltzer had exploded the myth that an athlete needed to rest through the winter. The top Americans like Hahn, Raie and Lermond, and the black Canadian, Edwards*, competed up to twenty times in ten weeks. 

*Phil Edwards, Peltzer's future rival, multiple medallist in three consecutive Olympics (128, 32, 36).
For his part, in summing up his U.S. experience, Otto emphasised the extreme competitiveness of life in America, including in sport: everything was geared towards success, coming first, and—ultimately—making money. In his view, while competition was to be encouraged, it should not be the be-all and end-all. Everyone should work eight hours a day, and complement their working day with sport. By eliminating superfluous, time-wasting activities, it was perfectly possible to train for two hours a day, five times a week. He ends the chapter on his American tour by setting out a series of principles drawn from a new edition of his book, The Athlete’s Training Manual. Many of these, written almost ninety years ago, have a remarkably modern resonance.
1. Don’t put blind faith in your coach: think for yourself!
2. What counts in training is not the time you spend at the track, but how you use it. ‘Fiddling about’ will never make you a champion.
3. Don’t try to break records in training. Don’t over-train, stay just below your limit.
4. For your first competitions, avoid rivals stronger or as strong as you are. You need to build up confidence by winning regularly. If you do find yourself in a strong race, don’t try to match the leaders; hold back, run to the limit of your current ability.
5. Get used to training under difficult conditions: running in heavy shoes, on a soft track, in bad weather.
6. After a race, give yourself time to recover and reflect: nothing is more hateful and disagreeable than mutual hugging, being carried on other people’s shoulders.
What every athlete needed above all, concluded Peltzer, was an intense, inner love of sport, enriching and strengthening him; preparing him for Olympic competition.
The Amsterdam Olympics, marking the completion of Germany’s international sporting rehabilitation, were now less than five months away. As principal bearer of his country’s gold-medal hopes, Otto needed to get down again to a serious training and racing programme.

Please note that footnotes are not in a standard convention.  This was due to editing difficulties using  Google Blogs.  

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...