Thursday, March 2, 2017

V 7 N. 15 A 4x880 WR Fifty Years Ago This Week

Wow, we are getting a lot of great stuff coming in already written by our friends and followers.  This time by a man I would call 'friend' though I've never personally met him to say "Hi."  It's Darryl Taylor former Long Beach State  half miler.  Turns out Darryl and I shared a track in Albequerque about 1964 when my Oklahoma Sooners and his Long Beach State 49ers got towed in a vacuum by the Oklahoma State Aggies on that lightning fast indoor track.  Here's Darryl's story.

Hello George and Roy! With this year's 2017 USA Indoor Championships about to scream into our living rooms, I thought I'd go back exactly 50 years to March 3rd, 1967, which also was a Friday,  and recall one of the strangest races I can remember.
50 years ago this Friday, on March 3rd 1967, as a member of the Long Beach 49er Track Club 2-Mile Relay team, we won the USA Indoor Championships. The winning time of 7:36.9 was our slowest of the 1967 season, having set an American Record in the Albuquerque Indoor Meet a month earlier at 7:25.6, which was recognized at the time as the leading time in the world and the fastest ever on a class "C" track. We also ran 7:29.8 in a close victory over Oregon University's 7:30.2 and Fordam's 7:31.6 at the New York AC Games held in Madison Square Garden. In this National AAU meet there were a couple of last minute changes in the line-up with Tom Von Ruden replacing Dave Mellady and John Perry replacing his brother Dave Perry. I was in my second year of teaching 9th grade English and coaching cross-country and track while finishing my teaching credential at Chapman University. As such this was the last year that I could devote to a full-time training regime. Those three guys I share the podium with were truly "Super-Stars" and it was an honor to share the track and pass the baton with them. Tom Von Ruden made the '68 Olympic team at 1500 meters, John Perry was a member of Oklahoma State's WR outdoor 2-Mile Relay team while Preston Davis was a sub 4:00 miler from Texas. The experience of racing with these guys certainly inspired me to run my best.
The USA INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS, formerly called the AAU Indoor Championships, was one of the strangest races I've ever experienced. My running log for this date states that as I began my warm-up, I started feeling early signs of the stomach flu.  When the starter called us to the line I asked him if I could run to the restroom to throw up. I could tell by the look on his face that he had never had this request before. He gave me 3 minutes and off I went. Returning with baton in hand, at least for the moment I felt better if not exactly normal. Fortunately we were not facing Oregon or Fordam here and I won the lead-off leg without too much trouble.  To add insult to injury, the exchange zones were miss marked so that my lead-off and Von Ruden's 3rd leg were 10 yards long while the 2nd leg and anchor were 10 yards short. Splits, as I have noted here were 1:54.8 for me, 1:55.3 for Perry, 1:53.9 for Von Ruden and 1:52.8 for Davis. After the race it was all I could do to stand for this photo before racing to the restroom again. The flight home late that night was by far the worst flight of my life and I had to call my wife to come to the airport and drive me home.
The month before was a much more pleasant experience. When we arrived in Albuquerque for the 1966 AAU Indoor Championships, Harry McCalla, Tom Von Ruden and Preston Davis were at the bottom of the stairway as we got off the plane. The immediately informed me that we were going for the American and world record that night. No pressure there!  What gave us hope for this outcome was the 7:27.4 mark we set the previous year at Albuquerque with a team made up of Dave Kemp-1:51.6/Darryl Taylor-1:51.7/Dave Mellady-1:54.0 and Dave Perry's 1:50.1 anchor. We only needed a couple of seconds improvement to reach that goal. Adding Von Ruden and Davis to the line-up made it a realistic goal. Harry McCalla (Stanford/Air Force) improved on Mellady's 1:54.0 with a nice 1:53.1 lead-off giving us 9 tenths in the bank. I ran my life-time best on the second leg with a 1:51.2 to put us 1.4 seconds up on our '66 time. By the time Tom Von Ruden blasted an eye-popping 1:49.2 on the third leg the record was ours and Preston Davis cruised home with a beautiful 1:52.1 for our 7:25.6. Albuquerque had a high banked all red plywood track that was 10 laps to the mile and was by far the fastest indoor surface I ever ran on. The flight home the next day was by contrast surely the best flight I ever took!

 Little mixup on the certificate with Dave Mellady listed by Tom Von Ruden being the guy on the left followed
                                                                by Perry , Davis and Taylor

Great article but I feel more sad for Donald Finlay missing his moment on the podium than Jack Keller having to find Donald and hand over his medal. Although now thinking about that how cruel!! Why didn't someone from the Olympic Committee deal with it?   Susan 

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