Friday, August 26, 2016

V 6 N. 63 August , 1966

      In our last post we mentioned the importance of placing in the top two at our national meet in order to qualify to run against the Russians.
    Alas, we have no USSR – USA meet upon which to report. Two weeks before the scheduled meet in Los Angeles the Russians announce they are boycotting the competition because the US has recently escalated the military action in Viet Nam. Not surprisingly, Poland, scheduled for a dual meet the very next week in Berkeley, cancels the following day, leaving the US team all dressed up with no place to go. What to do?

    Instead of moping like a girl stood up on prom night, the US decides we don't need those godless Commies. We can do it ourselves. And so we do. In a burst of patriotic fervor, the meet with Poland in Berkeley becomes the All American Invitational. We already have our A team ready to compete, add those that just missed qualifying, mix in a large dose of nationalism and sprinkle lightly with passion. We are ready. This will be a better meet than the planned warm up with those Polish JVs.

     And, oh my, yes it is. In fact a magnificent world record is the result, one that wouldn't have happened in a meet with the Poles. The original meet was to be run at international distances, meaning that Jim Ryun would have run 1500 meters, not the mile. The change has been made at Ryun's request. This will be an attempt at Michel Jazy's 3:53.6 world record.

Even his competitors are up for it. Ryun needs pacesetters. National pride is at stake here. Pacesetters he shall have.

     Tom Von Ruden is out early but Richard Romo is the first lap leader at 57.3 and increases the pace in the next 220 with Ryun on his shoulder. By the half Wade Bell is leading the parade in 1:55.4. At this point a 1:58 half is all that is needed for the record. Given Ryun's unmatched last lap speed, the crowd of 15,000 senses this is the day the mile record returns to America.
    But the pace slows to a 30.3 in the next 220. Ryun has to make his break now and so he does. He looks over his shoulder and realizes he has already got all the help he is going to get. Now he is on his own. The frenzied crowd is standing, roaring its encouragement as he passes the ¾ mile mark in 2:55.5. Those in the stands know they are seeing history. This is an I-was-there moment, an achievement to be related to children not yet born.
Ryun WR Mile Berkeley , 1966

"There is a clock on the screen.  You can see the time when Ryun's foot touches the 220 to go mark and when he finished.  he ran 24.0 that last 220.
 I was standing on the curb at the finish line and saw the entire race close up.   You can see me as he goes by.  The 880 was  the race just before the mile."

 Jim Metcalf. 

 Wonders, wonders.  This is the video that I have been looking for over the past century.  While not mentioned,  this is the famous Berkeley race where Jim Ryun  first broke the World record.  I led the first half for him and eventually ended up 3rd.  

Go Roadrunners!
Ricardo Romo, Ph. D.

All those early morning runs in the frigid winters and the interval workouts in the stifling summers are paying off. Though he says later that he felt “heavy”, no one watching has that feeling. His last lap goes off in 55.8, giving him 3:51.3, breaking Jazy's record by a remarkable 2.3 seconds, 18 yards as estimated by Cordner Nelson. Cary Weisinger is second in 3:58.0 and Richard Romo is rewarded for his unselfish work with a 4:01.4 PR in third.

    Ryun is the first American to hold the mile world record record since fellow Kansan Glenn Cunningham 29 years ago. Those present have seen one of the great moments in the history of US track and field.

    Triple jumper Art Walker had been preparing to meet Poland's world record holder and two time Olympic champion, Jozef Schmidt. Although disappointed that competition is off the table, he pops an American record 54-7¾ to move to number two on the year's world list.
Charlie Greene
    Charlie Greene's 10.3 100 tops the 10.4 of George Anderson, Jim Hines and Trinidad's Ed Roberts. High schooler Bill Gaines is just a tick back in fifth. Decathlete Russ Hodge runs 10.9.
Tommie Smith

    Tommie Smith takes the 200 in 20.7 leaving Hines, Roberts, Harold Busby and Adolph Plummer in his wake. Surprisingly, new decathlon world record holder, Bill Toomey, is right with the big boys, taking sixth in 21.2.

    Lee Evans cements his position as 400 meter stud duck, running 45.7 to leave Theron Lewis and Bob Frey six tenths back. Evan's comment: “I didn't get tired at all.”

    Tom Farrell wins the 800, holding off Ted Nelson by a tenth and Preston Davis by three tenths, in 1:47.6.

    Tracy Smith outruns Billy Mills in the 5000, 13:42.0 to 13:52.6.     After Ron Larrieu leads nearly the entire 10,000, St. Cloud State sophomore Van Nelson takes over with four laps to go but can't shake the determined Larrieu who kicks past to win by ten yards in 28:54.2, the fastest ever run in the Western Hemisphere.

    John Pennel's back is bothering him again, so it falls to USC freshman Paul Wilson to provide world record holder Bob Seagren's competition, a chore he handles admirably. Both clear 16-6 with Wilson ahead on misses. With the bar at 17-2, both clear only to have their poles go under bar thus negating the clearance. Wilson's loss of a PR is made bearable by his victory over the world record holder.

    Willie Davenport should have stood in bed all day. He oversleeps and has to run the half mile to the stadium, arriving 15 minutes before the start of the hurdles. Whether this unusual warm up routine effects his performance is hard to say but he finishes behind Don Shy and Tom White in 13.8.
Don Shy in his last year of pro football with the Southern California Sun in
1975, also was with the Steelers, Bears, Saints and Cardinals

    Adhering to the motto if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, Willie takes a shot at the intermediates. Ten hurdles, how hard can that be? The field of four veteran intermediate hurdlers is delighted to provide Willie an education. Geoff Vanderstock edges Ron Whitney 50.2 to 50.4 with Bob Steele 50.8 and Jim Miller 52.4 following. A wiser Willie Davenport finishes in 59.5. No specifics are provided. Our guess is that this was Willie's last attempt at this event.
Jim Miller

    Neil Steinhouer establishes an Edwards Field record on his first attempt in the shot with a put of 65-3¼. Before those in the press box can make a note of this, Randy Matson throws 67-2¼. Thanks for coming, Neil. Once again Russ Hodge appears in the results with a toss of 55-9.

    No matter how far Rink Babka throws the discus, Al Oerter will throw it farther. Today is no exception, Oerter 205-6, Babka 198-4. Placing sixth and seventh are those decathlon guys, Hodge 165-10, Toomey 153-3. They are getting ready for the decathlon being held in the Russian replacement meet next week.

    Ed Red, the guy with the shortest name in the sport, has the longest throw of the day in the javelin, 270-4, to move to number six on the US all time list and top Frank Covelli by exactly ten feet.

    Both relays come close to world records. The “A” team of George Anderson, Harold Busby, Tom Jones and Jim Hines runs 39.1 to miss the 400 record by a tenth. Cordner Nelson remarks that had not Tommie Smith and Charlie Greene been demoted for disciplinary reasons, the record might have fallen. No details are given. (Indeed Greene is on the B team and Smith doesn't run at all.)

    Like the mile, the 4 lap relay has been changed to yards. Arizona State's mile relay world record of 3:04.5 is sure to fall to Lee Evans, Tommie Smith, Bob Frey and Theron Lewis. The fatigue Evans didn't feel in the open 400 comes to roost on the lead off leg as the national 400 champ ties up badly and runs but 46.9 before handing off to Smith who does no better considering he has a running start. His 46.3 is matched by Frey. Lewis is the only one up to the task. His 45.2 brings them home in 3:04.7, good but no cigar.

    As good as this meet is, the biggie is the following week in the LA Coliseum where political allies Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand come to our aid and furnish more competition than the dual with the Soviet Union would have provided. Over $300,000 worth of tickets have been sold for the Russian meet creating an assurance that the replacement meet will definitely happen. In deference to the primary sponsor, the meet is dubbed the LA Times Invitational.

    The meet is a two day affair with 27,846 spectators on Saturday and 34,150 Sunday. To say that no one goes home disappointed may be hyperbole, but, what the hell, no one goes home disappointed.

    As you remember, Art Walker set the American record in the triple jump last week. It is short lived, as he betters it by over three inches with his new AR, 54-11 to open Saturday's competition.

    Later this afternoon another field event excites the crowd even more. John Pennel, injured last week, is ready to take back his world record from roommate Bob Seagren. Seagren clears 16-6, but is out at 17-0¼, a height cleared by Pennel and that pesky freshman, Paul Wilson, who can go no higher. Now the bar is set at 17-6¼, three quarters of an inch above Seagren's record. Pennel is not exploring unknown territory here. Ten days ago in an all comers meet he jumped half an inch higher. He clears easily on his first jump and embraces the ex-record holder, his supportive roommate. Happy as he may be, one has to wonder what thoughts are running through Seagren's mind. “You made broccoli-spinach casserole for dinner last night, constantly leave your underwear on the floor, never wipe down the shower and now this.” A world record is nothing new for Pennel. This is his eighth.

    Ron Clarke is always ready to run. Today he runs 5000 meters in 13:28.4, twelve seconds off his recent world record, but extemely fast considering the warm weather. Tracy Smith continues his progression towards the top rung of the US distance world, finishing second in 13:40.2.

    In addition to Seagren and Pennel, there is another pair of roommates in the spotlight. Bill Toomey and Russ Hodge broke the decathlon world record last month. Today they are at it again. They are pretty much equal in the 100 (10.5 both), long jump and high jump. The differences come in the shot, where Hodge piles up points with a 56-7½ to 44-4 advantage, and the 400 in which Toomey runs a decathlon best 46.8 to top Hodge's 48.9. The day ends with Hodge leading by 89 points.

    Willie Davenport is having a tough couple weeks. Last week he arrived too late to warm up properly and Don Shy and Tom White ran 13.7 and 13.8 to beat him. Those two run the same times this week but Willie false starts twice and can only watch. Note: Apparently there is no open lane in tomorrow's intermediates because Willie's name doesn't appear in the results.

     Randy Matson disposes of Neil Steinhauser by a couple feet in the shot, 66-8½ to 64-2, but the hammer throw is much tighter. Tom Gage whirls the iron ball 219-2 to edge Hal Connolly by two inches and Ed Burke by eight.

    The next day it is rumored that Jim Ryun is set on breaking his own 800-880 records of 1:44.2 and 1:44.9. While all other races are in meters, this will be in yards and timed at both distances. Why set one record when you can get two? The competition is certainly there: Ted Nelson, Tom Farrell, Preston Davis, Englishman John Boulter and Australian Ralph Doubell. A 27.3 second 220 dooms the record attempt as Ryun is 53.3 at the 400. He attempts to break away on the backstretch but this time he opens no ground. The 600 is passed in 1:19.0. Ryun says, “With about 200 yards to go my legs felt very heavy and I was quite tired”. Welcome to the world of everybody else, Jim.

    Doubell, Nelson, Boulter and Farrell are right there. Although Farrell is gaining in the final yards, Ryun hangs on to win in 1:46.2. Farrell 1:46.5, Nelson 1:46.9, Doubell 1:47.2 and Boulter 1:47.3 follow. Cordner Nelson calls this “the greatest competitive 880 ever”.

    After winning the 5000 yesterday, Ron Clarke finds himself with nothing to fill the lonely hours today so he runs the 10,000, easily outdistancing yesterday's runner up, Tracy Smith, 28:13.6 to 29:00.0.
     Consistency, thy name is Oerter-Babka. Not only do they place in that order in today's discus competition, but they come within four inches of replicating the exact marks they threw last week. Oerter's 205-7 is one inch beyond his Berkeley mark, Babka's 198-1 falls three inches short of last week's effort.

     Gayle Hopkins pops a 26-7 long jump but that isn't enough to beat
Ralph Boston who tops that mark twice with leaps 26-8¾ and 26-9.
    Otis Burrell's 7-2 clearance in the high jump equals his best and gives him the victory over Aussie Laurie Peckman.
    The 1500 is a tactical affair decided by Jim Grelle's 53.9 last lap to win in 3:44.5 over England's Walter Wilkinson at 3:45.5. Richard Romo impresses with a 54.2 final go round to take third in 3:45.6.
    Jim Hines runs a great curve and hangs on until the final strides before the powerful finish of Tommie Smith wins the day 20.5 to 20.6.

    The fact that the Australians aren't here to just fill out the fields is evident in the 400 intermediates where Aussies Gary Knoke and Ken Roche hurdle 50.8 and 50.9 to edge Geoff Vanderstock's 51.0.
     Let's return to Berkeley where our cream of the crop mile relay team ran 3:04.7, missing Arizona State's world record by two tenths of a second. Today they are running the international distance of 1600 meters. The record is 3:00.7 set by the US in the '64 Tokyo Olympics. The Berkeley four, significantly rearranged, are determined not to fail this time. UCLA's Bob Frey leads off in 46.3, passing to AAU champion Lee Evans who puts the record in their cross-hairs with a 44.5 carry. Then the crowd is treated to a demonstration of the special talent that is Tommie Smith. The San Jose State star wraps up the record and puts a bow on it with an stunning 43.8 lap. Unless an act of God intervenes, anchor Theron Lewis will come home with the record, but could there be something more, something never done before, a sub three minute clocking? In a word, yes siree, Bob.   Lewis splits 45.0 and is enveloped by his teammates. The clock reads 2:59.6.
     While all this is going on, the battle in the decathlon is playing out, event by event. Toomey gains 54 points by outhurdling Hodge, 14.7 to 15.2 to close the gap to 35 points. Hodge more than counters in the discus, 165-5 to 146-1 to stretch his advantage to 143 points. With three events remaining, time is running out for the recent world record holder. Both clear 13-5½ in the vault and the javelin is a virtual wash with Hodge throwing 211-7, a foot farther than Toomey, to gain another three points.

    As they start the 1500, Toomey needs to beat Hodge by 21 seconds. Toomey is much the better 1500 runner, but this may be asking too much. In addition, the world record is on the line for both of them. Toomey needs to run 4:18.2, Hodge 4:39.6. It is possible for Toomey to break his own record but lose it seconds later. This is as dramatic as a decathlon can be. There may be some late dinners, but no one is going home until this is settled.

    As expected, Toomey goes out hard. With a lap to go he is up 22 seconds on his buddy, but the bear jumps on his back in the home straight and he misses his record. Hodge has more in the tank and is coming hard before that same home straight becomes uphill. He gives it his all only to miss the record by......are you ready?.......eight tenths of a second. But his 4:40.4 is enough to hold off Toomey's 4:20.3. Though Russ is four (count 'em, four) points short of Bill's WR with 8230, he wins by 11 points.

    If this isn't dramatic enough for you, there are rumors that there may have been a wind aided mark in the Salina competition which would negate Toomey's record and make Hodge the world record holder on today's performance. Why a wind reading has not been determined in seven weeks is not explained.

    When Bill and Russ go out for their post meet beer the world record holder should buy but neither is sure who should be reaching for his wallet.

    While these were the foremost meets in the US, two weeks later the British Empire and Commonwealth Games (later British Commonweath Games and now the Commonwealth Games) were taking place in Kingston, Jamaica. The significance of this particular meet is the emergence of Kenyan distance runners on the world scene. Kip Keino is well known but this meet is the coming out party for the nation that is to rule distance running for the next fifty years.

    Ron Clarke has set 17 world records. His match with Keino in the three mile is much anticipated but first he must complete the formality of winning the six mile. Clarke is the WR holder at 26:47. No one else has broken 27 minutes. All he has to do is run his race and no one will stay with him. Apparently Naftali Temu of Kenya hasn't gotten the word.
Clarke and Temu in another race on another day
He stays on Clarke's heels until, on the 19th lap, Clarke breaks and his pace falls to 74.9. That is all Temu needs. He clips off a 62.7 and the race is over. His last mile is covered in 4:17.3, Clarke's is 4:39.5. Temu's 27:14.6 is the fourth fastest ever.

    Two evenings later Clarke is up against the superbly fit Keino at three miles. In past meetings Keino has followed and outkicked Clarke. Surprisingly Clarke doesn't lead.
McCaffrey, Keino, and Ian Stewart in a 1970 race
He and Keino run in a group with Scotland's Ian McCaffrey and Australia's Kerry O'Brien and Ian Blackwood. With five laps to go Keino leads with Clarke and McCaffrey following closely. Blackwood and O'Brien have fallen away, but Temu is 20 yards back and closing. The two mile mark is reached in 8:37.8. Clarke takes over on the tenth lap but can't shake Keino. The inevitable happens at the start of the backstretch on the last lap. Keino goes by and Clarke has no response. Keino's final 56.4 gives him the win in 12:57.4, a PR. Clarke has to settle for 58.4 and 12:59.2. Surprising Allan Rushmer of Great Britain finishes brilliantly to snatch the bronze medal from Temu 13:08.6 to 13:10.4.

     Five days later Keino displays his dominance in the mile. After a sizzling 3:57.4 heat, he returns two days later to destroy a strong field with an amazingly consistent race, splitting 59.3, 59.4, 58.0 and 58.4 en route to a dominant 3:55.3. Britain's Alan Simpson runs 3:57.1 for silver leading four others under 4:00.

    Other Kenyans in the dawning of a new era are Wilson Kiprugut, second in the 880 at 1:47.2 and Benjamin Kogo, third in the steeplechase at 8:33.2.

    Other items we have learned: The purity of the NCAA has been upheld. Although Paul Wilson vaulted 17-1 and Jim Ryun ran 1:44.9, 3:51.3 and 8:25.2, those marks are not collegiate records. The reason? Those youngsters are only freshmen and, as such, not eligible to hold NCAA records. The nerve of those young whippersnappers.....Coach Mihaly Igloi is no longer with the LATC. He has taken most of the members of that team and formed a new club, the Santa Monica Track Club. Not to worry, the LATC is still in business with a new coach, Lazlo Tabori. One wonders how this came about as Tabori ran for Igloi in Hungary and again in the US.....San Diego State's Houston Ridge has some creditable weight marks. He has put the shot 60-10½ and thrown the discus 174-9½. The oddity is that he puts the shot right handed and throws the discus left handed. Try that some morning before breakfast....Apparently the admissions office staff at San Jose State is very efficient. Lee Evans' application has been processed and accepted in record time......Remember the question about the wind reading in the Salina decathlon? Maybe there should be some concerns based on the following information. The AAU announced that Dave Thoreson's high jump was actually 6-10¼, not 6-9 7/8 as previously announced, thus his score should be 7484, not 7520. We will join you in a moment of head scratching. If I were Bill Toomey, I would be real worried about that retroactive wind reading.....We will end with a feel good moment. At the banquet following the LA Times International Games a silver pitcher is awarded to the outstanding athlete. The choice came down to Russ Hodge, John Pennel and Tommie Smith. The winner is Hodge. But wait, Russ has another plan. Upon accepting the award, he turns and presents it to Ron Clarke, saying “You are the one who deserves this”. Clarke is overcome. Nearly in tears, he says, “In all my years as a competitor, nothing like this has ever happened to me”. See, we told you you'd feel good.

Particularly good story telling on this one, George.


To SVM:   Roy wrote this one.

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