Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

V 6 N. 70 Brian Theriot interview Franz Stampfl documentary, Women High Jumpers, and other killer tidbits.

Phil Scott recently sent this link to an interview with Brian Theriot.    Brian was/is an iconclastic runner who ran a 9.9  100 yards and 46.9  440 , but while at UCLA was moved up to the 880 and mile and ran  1:45 and 3:53 for that race and the mile.  He talks about what motivated him and how he accomplished this with adaptive training.  Not only was he successful in the switch, but he was also able to parlay his abilities to make a very comfortable living in Europe as a pacer and a racer, occasionally combining the two on the same day.  Further on in the interview, Brian, who is now a marketing specialist, goes on to explain how he would change the marketing of Track and Field in this country to rejuvenate the sport.   His first thought is to fire everyone at USATF, and then move the offices from small city  Indianapolis to Los Angeles.  From there he has a lot of other suggestions  including bringing back college dual meets and also setting up a circuit of events both indoors and outdoors around the country and do whatever is needed to help high school athletes to stay in the sport after  high school graduation.

Brian Theriot interview from Speedendurance.com

Next we have noticed recently that the documentary on Franz Stampfl is or will soon be released to public viewing   The trailer can be seen at:

A Life Unexpected The Man Behind the Miracle Mile

By clicking on the link you will be sent to Youtube where you will also be able to open other pieces about this film including an interview with John Landy.  When we get more information from the producers about the film, we will bring this information to you.  The trailer should wet your appetite.

Steve Price forwarded this link to a clip of the Ten Top Women High Jumpers

Ten Top Women High Jumpers

Now for the 'killer tidbits'.
Today on the British website "I Was or Am a Runner"  I learned that:

Serial killer Ted Bundy (1946-1989) ran 880 yards in 1:51.8, aged 20, whilst a student at University of Washington in 1966. He confessed to having murdered more than 30 women before his execution in the electric chair at Starke Prison, Florida, on 24th January 1989, aged 42.

Then there is the Tim Danielson case.  Tim the second high school sub four minute miler is doing a life sentence for killing his ex-wife.

Proof that these are  not sole abberations amongst distance runners,  this year some other little snot and member of the Virginia Tech track team, David Eisenhauer who was also  a state high school track or cross country champ in Maryland along with his girlfriend accomplice stalked and murdered a thirteen year old girl they had latched onto via the internet.

No, track people are not all upright citizens.  Nevertheless, the vast majority are people I wouldn't mind sharing some time with.


Great link to Franz Stampfl film. Also a Ron Clarke interview next on youtube.
     Women hj'ers-
Andanova - had a daughter who jumped at U. of Miami (mom was still in great shape!)
Balas - looked like she could flop 7' with good surface and pit.
Bergqvist - jumped at SMU, later ran NYC marathon.
     Ted Bundy - Was killing sorority girls in Tallahassee. When finally caught he possessed the ID of Ken Misner,  28:30 10k guy who had graduated from Florida State.

Bruce Kritzler

"Bruce.....You sure know a lot for a Hardin County farm boy."   Steve Price

Saturday, September 24, 2016

V 6 N. 69 Ed Temple R.I.P.

October 13, 1956,  Ed Temple surrounded by
Wilma Rudolph, Isabelle Daniels, Willie White, Lucinda Williams
Mae faggs, and Margaret Matthews on their way to Melbourne, Australia
photo  John Corn/The Tennessean
Former Coach of Wilma Rudolph and many other Olympians, Ed Temple has passed away at age 89.

Ed Temple

In the 1950s when women's track and field was almost a once every four years occurence,  Ed Temple coaching the Tennessee Tigerbelles, brought the sport forward with giant steps.   His athletes were the dominant force on US women's national teams from 1956 until well into the 1960s when the rest of the nation began catching up.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

V 6 N. 6 8 Passing of Dave Martin

John Bork informed us recently on the passing of Dave Martin former University of Michigan runner,  3rd in NCAA steeplechase in 1961.   Martin according to several recent sources had been a multiple time Big 10 champion and moved west after graduation to train under Mihaly Igloi and the L.A. Track Club.  His running career came to a sudden end in 1961 or 1962 when he was hit by a discus thrown by Rink Babka shattering his lower leg.  

In Bob Schul's autobiography "The Long Run"  he describes that incident.   Bob had just been diagnosed with mononucleosis that same day and taken off the travelling squad that would go to Europe.  Martin was next in line and was told he would go in Schul's place.

The next morning I went to see Igloi.  He was not into a hard workout as many of the athletes had competed over the weekend.  I approached himk and when he saw me, he came to meet me.

    Well, what did the doctor say?
    Bad news, Coach.  I answered.  I have to report to the base hospital because I have what is called mononucleosis.   Several other athletes had gathered around by that time and listened as I spoke.

Igloi was as disappointed as I.  He now understood why my races had gone downhill all Spring.  As we talked he told me that Dave Martin would take my place on the squad for Europe.  

As I walked along the field I was in emotional misery.  Ever since Igloi had announded the trip to Europe,  I had been ecstatic.  Not only would it be a fun trip but I would have learned  so much.
I felt I'd been given a great present, only to have it snatched away.  As Dave approached to ask what the doctor had said , I told him the coach wanted to see him.

Dave went to Igloi and was told he'd be taking my place on the trip to Europe.  I watched him as he started to jog again after the news.   His step seemed lighter and he was a happy man.  He sincerely expressed his regrets to me, and being a good friend, I was glad he was next in line to go.  Dave went to the far side of the track to continue his workout.  In the next few moments though the most bizarre thing happened.  

He was doing 100 yard repeats along the far side of the football field as Rink Babka threw a discus in his direction.  Dave didn't know what hit him as the discus took one bounce and chopped into his legs.  Dave went down as if a bullet had slammed into him and his scream filled the air.  We all ran to him and fell silent when we saw the bottom part of his leg lying at an angle.  It was broken.

Someone ran to get  a car.  Dave had gone into shock as he sat holding his leg.  The car was driven as close to Dave as possible, and we very gently loaded him into it to get him to the hospital as quickly as possible.  I was indeed so bizarre that within minutes Igloi had lost two of his best runners.  I would return at a future date, but Dave would never run another race....

Martin went into high school coaching and eventually went on to coach the Wolverines from 1969-71 before moving on to other fields.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

V 6 N. 67 Remembering a National Championship Road Race and Grand Parade

By Tom Coyne and Paul O’Shea
The annual Bud Billiken Parade held each August in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago is the oldest and largest African American parade in the United States.
Bud Billiken was the brainchild of Robert S. Abbott, founder and publisher of the Chicago Defender, arguably the best-known African American newspaper in America.  Surprisingly, however, Bud’s roots are Chinese, not African American, for the billiken was a Chinese symbol of a protector of children.  Abbott incorporated the symbol in 1923 by introducing the character, “Bud” Billiken, into a children’s section of the Defender as a way to encourage, motivate and inspire young African Americans.  An editor of the newspaper, David Kellum, came up with the idea of a parade in 1929 and history was made.

Pres. Harry Truman  ,  middle unk, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daly

The Man
Although today’s Bud Billiken Parade is massive, like all ventures it started small and grew.  Grand Marshalls went from local celebrities to athletes to show people to politicians to Presidents.  Through the years special events were created to capture interest and hold attention.

In the 1950s one innovation was hosting a national championship road race, scheduled in all likelihood to showcase the considerable talents of African American runner Lou White.  White was the third place finisher in the 1949 Boston Marathon in 2:36:48.  He had previously run for the fabled New York Pioneer Club and the Boston Athletic Association and was one of the founders of the New York Road Runners Club.  In l984 he was inducted into the Road Runners Club of America Hall of Fame.
Lou White finishing third at Boston 1949

A frequent long distance champion in the Metro New York area, White was five feet, five inches tall, bespectacled, an outgoing and friendly individual.  In those bygone days distance runners didn’t run for the money--if ever there was an amateur runner, White was one.
White, who died in 1990 at the age of 82, lived an enterprising life.  Gary Corbitt, son of the legendary marathoner Ted Corbitt, called him a “Renaissance Sportsman.”  White studied journalism at New York University but dropped out because of the Depression.  Working at odd jobs he was a parks recreation director, hospital emergency room employee and helped out at the Newport Jazz Festival.  He took third place in a national photo competition, and published fiction and non-fiction.  Athletically, he played handball, racquetball and was a speed skating champion.  
But it was on the roads where Lou White excelled.  Corbitt believes he “may have been the fastest black marathoner” up to the time of his Boston finish.

In 1951, Tom Coyne and Paul O’Shea were non-substance addicted distance runners.  As teammates they had run on the St. Ignatius High School cross country and track teams during the school year and in the summer, in the not inconsiderable number of road races put on by the AAU and the University of Chicago Track Club among others.  “As distance runners in the 50s, it can’t be said we were pitied,” Tom remembers.  “We were just ignored.  Each April the Boston Marathon got a fair amount of attention, but for the rest of the year distance running was a sub-culture.”
The Billiken special event was the National AAU 15 kilometer championship. In 1950, after encouraging seasons of cross country and track at St. Ignatius, Paul happened across a story about the prospective race in the sports section of the Chicago Tribune. Paul had never run beyond three or four miles, and was naively seduced by the distance. In Tom’s case, after hearing about the race from Paul, memory has it that he didn’t really understand just how far 15 kilometers actually were. Ignorance was bliss for Tom because, for him, it turned out to be a high point in his running history.

Paul finished eleventh in 1950 in 64:21, more than two miles behind White’s first Billiken victory. He had just completed his freshman year.  A year later, as a rising senior Tom joined him and finished sixth in 54:20, while Paul was thirteenth in 60:13.  What is astonishing today is to remember how small the fields were more than sixty years ago.  In the l950 race, 16 started, 16 finished.  A year later 26 of 29 completed the 9.3 miles.
Paul first met Tom in l949, after the incoming freshman failed to impress the St. Ignatius High School football coaches.  A quick “You’re Fired” by football management that September put paid to his hope of playing for Notre Dame or even a nearby junior college. But he thought he could run so he hitched a ride on the back of a group of runners. Tom and his varsity co-leader Ray Mayer were cruising around the perimeter of the football field, more finely powdered dirt than fairway smooth.  Tom and Ray were juniors and had a rapidly expanding list of individual and team championships on their resumes.  
In the Fifties the Billiken Parade usually started around 31st Street and Michigan Avenue and ended in Washington Park.  The race itself began in Jackson Park and continued south to 56th and South Park Street, a mercifully flat course.  The weather was pleasant, slightly warm but not too bad.  The runners were mostly veterans of the local distance running community.  White was the star attraction and “it was a good thing we all got the opportunity to see and meet him at the start of the race because he didn’t hang around long,” Tom recalls.
Lou White had an unusual stride, very short and very even.  Perhaps because of his diminutive stature it was accentuated, but he seemed to glide along with not a lot of arm motion.  We locals got to see what a “real” distance runner looked like (in the short time we could keep him in view).
Thinking back now we realize we didn’t know how good we had it. As distance runners we weren’t pioneers.  Distance running had been part of the United States athletic scene long before the Native Americans out West started chasing the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s John Colter.  But we were unique; we were doing something that is timeless in athletic history and we few souls were carrying on a great tradition.  We just didn’t think in such noble terms.  The race fields were small but the respect we had for each other was sincere.  We were doing something the average person couldn’t or wouldn’t do, running a very long way without stopping.  It doesn’t sound like much but those who do it know what it takes to be able to do it.
In the 1950s we weren’t chauvinistic (at least not at the local level; we couldn’t speak for Jock Semple).  There weren’t any or many women running in our distance races then but I’m sure they would not have been excluded.  It was just that their day was yet to come,” Tom points out.
How long the Bud Billiken Day races went on we couldn’t say.  There were, at least, several more. The parades, of course, continued and grew immensely, so it is easy to see why side attractions like road races were no longer needed.

But they did take place and are part of Chicago distance running history, not to mention being very fond memories for a grateful pair of high school would-be Whites.

For more on Lou White by Gary Corbitt see: Lou White from Track and Field News Forum

The idea for this story came from several clippings about the 1951 National 15Km Championship held in Chicago that Paul O'Shea sent me this summer.  I noticed in the results that Tom Coyne and Paul, two of our regular readers and contributors, had both run in the race that year.  So I asked Paul if he would write a story about the event, the atmosphere, etc.  I had no idea the race was connected  to the "Bud" Billiken Parade or even the significance of that event.  Thanks so much to Tom and Paul for responding so quickly.
Here are Paul and Tom (front row left) along with the St. Ignatius HS
Cross Country team several years ago.   If you click on the photo you'll get an enlarged view of
the two old teammates.


In 1950 Lou White won the race in 50:32.  In 1951 he won in 49:51 on a course that was 90 yards shorter.

Well, we remembered to put in our own times.  After all, who was this guy, Lou White, anyway!  Tom Coyne

Friday, September 2, 2016

V 6 N. 66 Dan Maas former 4 minute miler killed in traffic accident

Dan Maas former Adams State 16 times sub four minute miler died in a traffic accident along with his wife recently.  He was Chief Operations Officer for the Thompson School District in Cheyenne, WY.

His running achievements were as follows:

1987-1992  Adams State University
Cum Laude
President's Honor Society
1990 NAIA Scholar Athlete of the Year
13 Times All American
7 Times National Champion
School Record 1500 meters
Olympic Trials Qualifier 1992  1996
16 Sub 4 minute miles
Adams State Athletic Hall of Fame

Dan Maas  Story from the Reporter Herald

Maas's Adams State Hall of Fame Induction Speech

Thursday, September 1, 2016

V 6 N. 65 Vera Caslavska R.I.P.

We saw the obituary of Vera Caslavska in the New York Times today.  She was 74 years old.   You may remember her as the Czechoslovakian gymnast who won four gold medals in Mexico in 1968  only a few weeks after the Soviet invasion of her country.  She later married Josef Odlozil who was the 1500 silver medalist behind Peter Snell in Tokyo in 1964.  Caslavska would continue in sport and  become the IOC rep from Czechoslovakia.     Later divorced, from Caslavska, Odozil would serve on peacekeeping missions with the Czech military but would suffer the ignominy of being killed by his own son in a bar fight.  See an earlier post on this blog.

Josef Odlozil  the reference appears near the end of the post.

Caslavska Obituary International NY Times

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...