Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Thursday, May 31, 2018

V 8 N. 35 Dick Quax New Zealand Olympian R.I.P.

Theodorus Jacobus Leonardus "DickQuax (1 January 1948 – 28 May 2018)

We learned yesterday that Dick Quax ,  New Zealand's Olympic and Commonwealth Silver Medalist  at 5000 meters (Montreal 1976) has passed away.  Quax in his words lived with cancer the past five years.   In 1977 Quax set a world record for the 5000 at 13:12+ in Stockholm.   Of all the great Kiwi runners only he , Peter Snell , and John Walker set WR's at Olympic distances.  His stride was said to be one of the best and most efficient ever.

Finish at Montreal  L-R
Rod Dixon (4th), Brendan Foster, Quax, (2nd) Ian Stewart (6th), Lasse Viren (1st), Klaus-Peter Hildebrand (3rd)

Only Lasse Viren's great stretch run kept Dick Quax off the top of the podium at Montreal, but you can see in race films that it was Quax who took it to the pack going into the  last turn with 200 meters to go sprinting  like a banty rooster in the barnyard.  It was truly one of the most hotly contested 5000s in Olympic history.

The Montreal Finish  Video clik here.

Numerous tributes are being paid to Dick Quax in the New Zealand press.  Below are links to several of them.

George Roy Steve

New Zealand Herald article May 31, 2018

New Zealand Herald article Jan. 20, 2018

Friday, May 25, 2018

V 8 N. 34 Pre We Hardly Knew Ye.... by Paul O'Shea

This weekend  the annual Prefontaine Classic will be held for the final time in the old Hayward Field before it is torn down and rebuilt.  Paul O'Shea will be there to report on the meet and hopefully we'll be hearing from him about it.  

In anticipation we are reprinting his article about Steve Prefontaine.   

George Roy Steve

Editor’s Note: The following article originally appeared in Cross Country Journal in the March/April 2015 issue and in our humble blog last year just prior to the Prefontaine Classic. The editorial board has decided that this will become an annual event.

Pre, We Hardly Knew Ye

By Paul O’Shea
Photo: Tony Duffy

To give anything less than your best, he famously said, was to sacrifice the gift.  It was an ethic Steve Prefontaine shared with us to the end of his brief life.
In the spring of 1975 I was riding under the Hudson River on a PATH train linking New York City with Hoboken, New Jersey, reading a newspaper. Buried in a sports news summary I came across these sentences: American distance runner Steve Prefontaine is dead, killed in an automobile crash in Eugene, Oregon.  Prefontaine was 24 years old.  
One of America’s greatest distance runners was gone. I was shocked, devastated by the news.
In a few weeks the international track and field community will mark the 40th anniversary of the death of the athlete who defines “iconic.” Commemorating that May 30, 1975 tragedy and honoring his memory, it’s fitting to ask: what made Steve Prefontaine the legendary “Pre”? Why does his name still resonate after all these years?  What can today’s runners learn from the way he never gave less than his best, never sacrificed his gift?  
Growing up in lumberjack Coos Bay, Oregon sports were the ticket to popularity, but Prefontaine was too small for football so he began running with the junior high team. At Marshfield High School he went out for cross country and discovered his life’s mission. As a sophomore he was an early success, placing sixth in the state meet.
“Ferociously competitive” as Olympian/author Kenny Moore would later describe him, Prefontaine twice was state cross country champion and broke the national high school two-mile record by seven seconds with 8:41.5. That got Frank Shorter’s attention who was then at Yale—the time was about the same as Shorter’s PR.
Following graduation Pre entered the 1969 AAU three-mile in Miami and qualified for the US national team, finishing fourth behind Gerry Lindgren. At 18 he was on his first international tour. That summer he ran 5,000 meters in 13:52.8, placing third in the U.S-Europe meet.
Jeff Johnson, a Track and Field News photographer, remembered seeing him for the first time after hearing about those high school performances.  At the AAU, on an elevator in the athletes’ hotel, Johnson talked briefly with “this little kid.” Later he noticed him hanging around the elite runners, apparently eager for autographs. The next day Johnson was focusing on the boldface names on the starting line--and there was the little kid, standing among the Sequoias, ready to race in his Marshfield uniform. “My God, that’s Steve Prefontaine!”
Before running his first collegiate race he’d been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, with a headline that read, “America’s Distance Prodigy.” Forty college teams pursued the Coos Bay wonder, but the hardheaded coach at the University of Oregon was a reluctant suitor.  Bill Bowerman didn’t recruit runners.  They applied for admission.
To be sure he wanted the precocious Prefontaine, but the Ducks’ leader was loath to chase the athlete who would have been the No. 1 pick in any distance runner draft.  Finally, Bowerman sent Prefontaine a handwritten letter that would transform the sport, the University and its historic Hayward Field.  For the next several years an irresistible force met an immovable object, each bending a little, but only centimeters.
In four years Steve Prefontaine won three Division I cross country titles and four consecutive three mile/5,000 meter track crowns.  He ran his best mile in 3:54.6, then just three-and-a-half seconds slower than the world record.  Bill Dellinger, who had succeeded Bowerman as coach, recalled that Pre never missed a workout or a race.
When we think of Pre we remember the biggest test of his career, the l972 Olympic 5,000 meter final in Munich, held four days after the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s terrorist attack resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.
Those thirteen minutes, twenty-eight seconds he gave us, a painting that will forever hang in our memory, revealed familiar, obstinate ways.  It was the kind of race he hated, a typical championship shuffle. After a lollygagging two miles in 8:56, impatient Pre went to the front, having told the world that he would run the last mile in four minutes. “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.”  
The 21-year-old led for the next two laps, then Finland’s Lasse Viren attacked with 800 meters left. In third, Pre counterattacked on the backstretch of the penultimate lap, but Viren regained the lead with 400 meters remaining.  Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia and Prefontaine gave chase but the Finn won going away, winning his second gold medal of the Munich Games. Viren had run 4:02.
Running the last mile in 4:04 Prefontaine was spent and lost the bronze at the finish line when Ian Stewart of Great Britain surged past. It was one of the great competitive distance races in track and field history.   
After the race, incapable of holding back emotionally, the American warned David Bedford, the UK’s 10,000-meter world record holder: “I’ll see you in Montreal and I’ll kick your butt.” Indeed, had Pre lived, he would have been a favorite to win the 1976 5,000.
The post Olympic years were ones of great achievement and personal challenge.  He set nine American bests including a 27:43.6 in the 10,000, just five seconds over the world record.
Now that he was no longer on scholarship there was a struggle to make a living. To survive he lived in a trailer, shopped with food stamps.  He tended bar where he was a regular patron, until the disapproving Bowerman shut him down.
A fledgling professional track association offered a $200,000 contract, but he rejected the offer in order to retain his “amateur” standing.  Bowerman and one of his former milers, Phil Knight began collaborating on a business that would become Nike, provider of all goods athletic. Pre sent the early Nike shoes to runners he had met, including Bill Rodgers. At first he was paid in shoes, then earned $5,000, the first athlete to sign with the company. Nike called Pre its National Public Relations Manager.
Off the track Pre pushed the pace in civilian life, too. He challenged the sport’s governing authorities, the AAU and the International Olympic Committee. Before track and field became a professional sport, he believed athletes should be paid openly, rather than under the table as was then happening.  The AAU’s per diem was three dollars.
He started a running club at the Oregon State Prison. For more than four decades the program has helped inmates cope with their incarceration. Limited to 150 prisoners, there is a four-year wait to get into the group.  He also volunteer coached at a local junior high school.

The legend grew as he won races with characteristic intensity:  “Most people run a race to see who’s the fastest.  I run a race to see who has the most guts.” Showman, hero, rebel, we remember Steve Prefontaine because he displayed front running courage.  He fed off the crowds. Spectators cheered his warm-ups.  He was spirited, cocky, even charming. He was a hero for his time, and remains a star to thousands of young runners today, who see the movies and documentaries, read the books and news stories, watch his races on film.
Accessible and immensely quotable, his words live on in interviews and anthologies: “Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints.  I like to make something beautiful when I run.  I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’  It’s more than just a race, it’s a style.  It’s doing something better than anyone else.  It’s being creative.”
There was nothing false or contrived: “How does a kid from Coos Bay, with one leg longer than the other win races?  All my life people have been telling me, ‘You’re too small Pre.’ ‘You’re not fast enough Pre,’ ‘Give up your foolish dream Steve.’  But they forgot something.  I HAVE TO WIN.”
And then the man with the exceptional talent ran the last race, crossed the final finish line.
During that day Steve Prefontaine did the ordinary things that made him such an extraordinary individual.  He went for an eye-opening run (six miles at six a.m. was the regimen), and prepared for the early evening meet at Hayward in which he faced several leading Finnish runners he had invited to this country, though Viren pulled out before the meet.
When Pre won, looking back over his shoulder, defeating Frank Shorter in the second fastest American 5,000 time, it was just two seconds off his personal best. For the 35th time he was victorious on the Hayward track, losing only three races, each a mile in distance. Over his career he started l53 races, winning 120. At one point he held seven American records at every distance from 2,000 to 10,000 meters.
Bowerman said, “He had just begun to reach maturity when the show was over,” never having won an Olympic medal or broken a world record.
Later that May 29 evening the Oregon and Finnish runners threw a party.  Moore and Shorter remember Pre had three or four drinks before calling it an evening just after midnight. He left telling his parents who also were at the party, take care driving home.  Pre dropped Shorter off, drove down Skyline Drive, swerved into a rock at the side of the road, possibly having been run off the road by another car.  His treasured butterscotch MGB convertible flipped and he was trapped under the car. Four hours after winning, he was dead.  The police measured his blood alcohol level at .16, above the legal limit at the time, though his family and friends did not believe he was in danger.
Pre’s death stunned the world.  Four thousand people attended a Hayward Field memorial service a few days later. Kenny Moore, one of our sport’s finest writers said: “All of us who now say, ‘I had no idea how much this man meant to me,’ do so because we didn’t realize how much we meant to him.  He was our glory, and we his.”
A roadside memorial was constructed a few feet from where he died; fans visited Pre’s Rock, a stone with a picture of Pre. There you’ll find medals from races, running jerseys, shoes, newspaper clippings, flowers, contributed by athletes and fans, a commemoration of his life, a connection that will echo for decades to come.
Often compared with actor James Dean, who also died at 24 in a traffic accident, Prefontaine drew immense numbers of supporters to the austere Hayward stands over the years.  His life story was the subject of Disney and Warner Bros. movies, and several documentaries including the treasured DVD, Fire on the Track, which contains rare footage of races and interviews with teammates, coaches, family and friends. On the twentieth anniversary of his death, Fire was broadcast on the CBS network before the l995 Prefontaine Classic meet.
Another essential source is Tom Jordan’s biography, Pre, The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine (Rodale, l977, 1994, 1997).  The Prefontaine Classic is one of the IAAF’s Diamond League fixtures on the international track and field circuit.  Jordan is the Pre Classic meet director.
What made “Pre”?  Jordan, in his book captures the runner’s essence: “Pre’s story…is about an individual who in an incredibly short span of time helped instigate the end of amateurism, set the tone for a brash company that became the Nike colossus, and inspired generations of American distance runners by his complete commitment to wringing everything out of what he called ‘the Gift.’”
Sadly, I never saw him run. Still, his is a gift that keeps on giving.

Wow,  this is wonderful.   When we meet someday I want to hear more about this.     I’m from calif, so all I know is the history of this.   The day of the meet.   He was  hanging out with Frank Shorter.   But you have many more details. Mike W.

While I was a student at U of O, I was lucky enough to see him run that afternoon he died. I still remember the somber morning after hearing the news. Eugene was in shock, mourning his death. We all went up Skyline to see where it happened still in disbelief. Hard to believe it was 40 years ago. 
Since I’ve been volunteering at The Prefontaine Classic for the last number of years, I always go to the rock and celebrate his amazing life. 

Reading about Pre never gets old.  I heard about it on the way to school, TMHS.  I remember being in their tennis court later that day just thinking about Pre.  He was tops with almost all American distance runners of that day.  As you know, when you go to Eugene there are tons of Pre shirts being worn and even more in the stores.  What a story!  Bill S.


Paul O’Shea has followed the sport for more than fifty years.  After retirement from a career in corporate communications he began contributing to Cross Country Journal and other track and field/cross country publications.  He resides in Northern Virginia and can be reached at Poshea 17 @Aol.com.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

V 8 N. 33 Laszlo Tabori, Olympian, Hungarian, American R.I.P.

from Associated Press  by Beth Harris   May 24, 2018
Roger Bannister congratulates Laszlo Tabori on his 4 minute mile

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Laszlo Tabori, who in 1955 became the third man to break the four-minute barrier in the mile and later coached distance runners at the University of Southern California, died Wednesday. He was 86.
The school said the Hungarian-born Tabori died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. No cause was given.
Tabori joined Roger Bannister and John Landy as the only men to break the four-minute barrier. He did so with a time of 3 minutes, 59 seconds, on May 28, 1955. That same year, Tabori held the 1,500-meter world record with a time of 3:40.8. He was also a member of the world record-setting team in the 4-x-1,500 relay.

Tabori 3rd Man to Break 4 Minute Mile    clik here

Tabori finished fourth in the 1,500 and sixth in the 5,000 at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
After the games, he and his coach Mihaly Igloi defected to the U.S. and eventually settled in Los Angeles. Tabori stayed in shape for many years and would have been a medal contender at the 1960 Rome Olympics, but he could no longer run for Hungary and wasn’t yet a U.S. citizen. He retired from running two years later.
Tabori returned to the sport as a coach in 1967, employing methods he learned from Igloi. Tabori was a proponent of interval training and was the longtime coach of the San Fernando Valley Track Club.
Among his star pupils were Boston Marathon winner Jacqueline Hansen and Miki Gorman, winner of the New York City and Boston marathons.
Tabori worked with USC’s men’s distance runners and the school’s running club team, notably coaching Duane Solomon to a berth in the 2012 London Olympics.
Born July 6, 1931, in Kosice, Hungary, Tabori was inducted into the Hungarian Hall of Fame in Budapest in 1995 for his accomplishments as an athlete and Olympian. In 2002, Tabori received the Fair Play Award from the International Olympic Committee for lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to the sport.

Dear George,

I was sorry to hear of the passing of Laszlo Tabori.  I remember watching the 3rd man to run a sub-4 mile at a 2 mile race in East York Stadium, Toronto, as a 16 year old in 1961.  The grace of his running was a delight to watch.  This particular race was captured in a short 10 minute documentary about Bruce Kidd.  It can be seen at:

Please feel free to post on the website.

All the best,
David (Bailey)  

David Bailey was Canada's first Sub 4 Minute Miler  ed.  

V 8 N. 32 Memorial Day to Veterans and Olympians Who Died in Wars

     Each year around Memorial Day we try to honor Olympians who died during wars fighting for any nation, any war.  Here are four previous postings you can refer to.   I've tried to make a complete list of names in this first posting shown.  The other three posts have various stories and photos related to individual athetes.





On Former Runners and Veterans and POWs

Saturday, May 19, 2018

V 8 N. 31 Tom Von Ruden Oklahoma State Olympian R.I.P.

We received the sad news from several sources today that Tom Von Ruden passed away yesterday under care of hospice in Phoenix, AZ.  It grieves me personally, because I was able to watch him develop in his early years at Oklahoma State University while I was a year or so ahead of him at the University of Oklahoma.  I usually did my watching from behind while eating cinders he was kicking up.   We were huge rivals as teams and there was little love lost between the programs.

I remember coming back from my time in the army in 1971 and seeing him on Wide World of Sports running in a meet in Scandanavia with long hair and beard and wondering what might have been had I stayed with it a few more years.  I think he was also drafted but got to Ft. MacArthur with the Army track program, where his former coach Ralph Higgins had turned up after retiring from OSU.  That program attracted some pretty good runners.  Apparently you could talk your way to the program if you were already in the army, but Coach Higgins could tell pretty quickly if you were bluffing about your abilities.  If you were lieing, you would be on the next plane to Southeast Asia.

I remember in 1964 OSU first showed well on the indoor cicuit in Albequerque with Dave and John Perry, Jim Metcalf, and Tom.  We lined up against them in the 2 Mile Relay and were in the race for about a leg until Tom got the baton, and he had a major break through with a 1:51 or so on that lightning fast 10 lap high banked track painted bright red.  That same night Adolph Plummer ran the 440 and the tight, high banking produced so much centrifugal force, his legs collapsed in the middle of the turn.  He took out most of the field when he went down.  He was able to laugh about it afterward.

From that time the OSU Cowboys were on a roll that would carry them to the World Record in the 2 mile relay.   OSU also picked up a great long distance runner that year in Chris McCubbins who would go on to represent both the US and Canada in international competition winning the Pan American Games Steeplechase.   Later that season I was able to finish 3rd to Robin Lingle of Missouri  and Tom in the Big 8 Indoor 1000 yards.  That was one of the highlights of my college running career.  Not many people got around those two.  Robin, Tom, and Chris are all gone now.

George Brose

Below is a personal account from Darryl Taylor that I received this morning about Tom and the 2 mile relay careers of the Cowboys and also Tom's national and international racing history.  Darryl ran for Long Beach State and then joined the 49er Club with Tom and John Perry out in California.

From Darryl Taylor

Dear Friends, George, Roy and Steve,
Here is some sad news that I felt I should share with you, especially in the position you hold for us old timers who
still love the sport in general and the middle-distance/distance events in particular.I guess this is the place I (we)
are in now as we all reach this tender old age, some in better shape than others. I received a troubling message
last night from John Perry, a former 49er TC team mate. The message contained a note that another 49er TC
member and team mate, Tom Von Ruden was in hospice care at a Phoenix hospital, the result of brain cancer
that had metastasized. 

I was introduced to Tom Von Ruden on a sunny afternoon in Albuquerque, NM, January 27th, 1967. The newly
formed 49er Track Club was in the midst of a world class recruiting spree, Tom Jennings having already secured
the services of Harry McCalla (Stanford), Preston Davis (Texas), Jim Kemp (Kentucky) and Tom's Oklahoma
team mates Dave and John Perry. Coming down the ramp to the tarmac I met a trio of middle-distance runners
that included Harry McCalla, Tom and Preston. When they greeted me and introduced me to Tom it came with
the admonition that the following evening, Saturday the 28th, in Tingley Arena, the four of us would be attempting
to better the world indoor record for the 2-Mile Relay. I can understand their concern as four sub-4:00 milers
were looking at a middle of the road half-miler to pull his weight in this attempt. Try as I might to get some sleep,
I spent a restless night trying to convince myself that I would not be the cause of failure and disappointment to
this stellar cast.

The next night our warm-up went well and we stepped to the line for the attempt at history. My running log entry
after the race follows:

"Harry led off and did a good job, considering that he is not a true half-miler. When I got the baton I was
right where I wanted to be, about five yards back from the team from Texas Southern. The Texan took
off and I followed as that big red track just flew by. As we went into one of the turns, T.J. was yelling
51-52-53 as we passed the quarter post in 53.0.  My boy kept leading and before I knew it we had just one
lap to go. I sensed that he was slowing so I went by as hard as I could on the backstretch. All I did from
there was use my arms and pump. Soon there was Tom Von Ruden waiting to take the baton. All he did
was blast a 1:49.2 and put our team out of reach of the competition.  His huge lead as he passed to
Preston Davis made it as easy win, Preston's 1:52.1 anchor just as beautiful as Tom's 3rd leg. Our final
time of 7:25.6, according to T&F News, was a new record for indoor tracks of 10 laps to a mile or less.
After my second leg, it was a solo effort as Texas Southern finished almost a full lap behind at 7:40.4 "

When splits were announced I felt I had contributed my best for the team.  Harry led off with 1:53.1, my 1:51.2
turned out to be my life-time best indoor relay leg, Tom at 1:49.2 and Preston at 1:52.1. For me, it was as
exciting an experience as any I ever had as a runner.  Later in the year, we won the New York AC games and
the National AAU Indoor Championships in Oakland. Tom would go on to represent the USA at the 1968 Olympic
Games in Mexico City and when given the chance to put the club’s best four middle-distance runners together
outdoors, they chased the outdoor 2MR record and the DMR record also. Tom set world records, if memory
serves, at 880 and 1000 yards indoors.

Those events took place 50 years ago, but the memories are still fresh in my mind. I will always treasure my
opportunity to be teamed with these incredible runners who fueled my desire to emulate their achievements,
something I was never able to match. God Bless you Tom Von Ruden for what you contributed to the world of
Track and Field and to the imagination of this middle distance runner.

Hope all is well with all of you.

Darryl Taylor

Being long retired now, I did a day long search of my Track and Field News editions to try and find when Tom
first made an appearance as a runner for Oklahoma State. I found no mention of his name on the collegiate
front during the 1963 season, but in 1964 he began a stellar career that saw world records and an Olympic Final
appearance at 1500 meters.

1964: The June T&FN edition listed Tom as 40th nationally for his 1:51.2 880 and 27th for his 4:06.7 mile. He
represented OSU at the NCAAs with a 9th place finish in the 1500 at 3:45.1, roughly equivalent to a 4:02 mile.
Meanwhile, his team mate twins, Dave and John Perry, were also making news under Coach Ralph Higgins.
Dave Perry placed 7th in the NCAA 800 final at 1:50.1 with a best time of 1:49.6  while John ran 1:50.3 for 880 in
a dual meet against Missouri.

1965: Tom lowered his mile time to 4:04.3 while placing 4th in his heat of the NCAAs and not making the final. On
the 880 list, Tom found himself as the 4th fastest at Oklahoma, his 1:50.7 at the Oklahoma Federation meet far
behind teammates Dave Perry at 1:47.7, John Perry  and fast improving Jim Metcalfe both clocking 1:48.5, John
in the Southern Federation meet and Jim in the Semi-Final of the NCAAs. It was certainly obvious that the recipe
for a very, very fast 2-Mile Relay was on the books. It didn’t take long for Coach Higgins to pick a major West
Coast Relay event to put it into practice. The Fresno Relays provided the perfect venue. Jim Metcalfe led off at
1:50.6 while John Perry’s 1:47.5 was the fastest split. Tom Von Ruden recorded his first sub-1:50 here with a
1:49.3 carry before Dave Perry soloed 1:51.0 to establish a new World Record of 7:18.4. Coach Higgins was
quoted as follows:

“We’ve been trying all year to find some competition for 2-Mile relay team.  It’s too bad UCLA chose the
distance medley relay tonight. And we can’t come to the Coliseum. I told the boys this was their last
chance. They ran well. But they could do better with some real competition, and with anchorman Dave
Perry in full health.”


C:\Users\Daryl\Pictures\2018 OKLAHOMA 2MR VON RUDEN\Top-001.jpg

1966: The indoor season had the Oklahoma boys mostly missing in action as they focused on the upcoming
outdoor challenges.  They bid farewell to Dave Perry with a 2nd place showing in the Millrose Games at 7:35.6
but were later disqualified. They reached 7:36.6 at the USTFF, missing the services of Dave Perry with
replacement Droke running 1:56.4 in lead-off position before John Perry took over in 1:52.6 which was enough
to secure the win with Jim Metcalfe’s sub-par 1:56.2 and Tom Von Ruden’s anchor leg of 1:51.4. Dave Perry
was off to the west, winning the 600 in the LA Times Games in 1:11.1 over the Strider’s Ron Whitney. This
would be Dave’s final race under Oklahoma colors as he joined the ever more powerful 49er Track Club in time
for the National AAU Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, NM.  Dave joined Dave Kemp, Darryl Taylor and
Dave Mellady to establish a meet record and the world’s fastest time for 1966 at 7:27.4. All at 5,000 feet of
elevation. Dave Kemp, former Marine and LA State runner led off with 1:51.6. Darryl Taylor, former Long Beach
Stater, pulled even with New Mexico’s John Baker with his 1:51.7erasing a 5 yard deficit passing to Dave
Mellady, former Chicago TC ace who hit 1:54.0 before passing to the newest addition to the club, Dave Perry.
After the race Dave explained that he had not been able to train much this past winter and was disappointed
that his goal of going under 1:50 was missed with his 1:50.1 anchor. Back on the home front Tom Von Ruden
posted a 2:10.2 1000 while John Perry clocked 1:52.1 in the Big 8 indoor finals.  

Dave Perry’s first race as a 49er saw him anchoring a fast 1:50.1
Dave Perry-1:50.1   Dave Mellady-1:54.0  Darryl Taylor-1:51.7  Dave Kemp-1:51.6
Tom finally got his 880 legs going during 1966. He placed 2nd in the USTFF in 1:47.9 while his mile time
matured with a solid 4:01.1 for 2nd place in the Big 8 Final. Nationally these marks represented 10th and 14th.
His team mates were lighting up the track also, John Perry’s 1:47.7 just edging Jim Metcalfe’s 1:47.8 at the
Big 8 Championship. Dave Perry, now competing for the 49er Track Club, checked in with a solid 1:48.2 in the
AAU Championships for 3rd place in his heat.  
C:\Users\Daryl\Pictures\2018 OKLAHOMA\Top-008.jpg
John Perry at 1:47.7 Metcalfe 1:47.8     Dave Perry’s Final Race for OSU
1967:  How would 1967, a Pre-Olympic year, stack up against a stellar 1966?  A major change was in the wind for the Oklahoma boys as they left a dedicated college coach to pursue Olympic dreams on the west coast of Southern California. Tom Von Ruden and John Perry joined former Oklahoman Dave Perry as members of the 49er Track Club of Long Beach, California.  That transition from college dorms to living on their own as expected, took some getting used to.

INDOOR SEASON:  Preparing the the high stakes environment of international and Olympic competition, Tom
set about to establish himself as a runner to reckon with.  Setting the table for a stellar indoor campaign, a late
January trip to Albuquerque saw his third leg 1:49.2 880 help erase the fastest 10 lap per mile world mark for
the 49er Track Club to 7:25.6.  Joining him in the record run were Harry McCalla, former Stanford star , leading
off in 1:53.1, Darryl Taylor-1:51.2 and Preston Davis, former Texas star anchoring in 1:52.1. That 1:49.2 split
was one of the fastest ever recorded indoors and the 7:25.6 winning effort was the 3rd fastest ever indoors on
any sized track. Barely taking a deep breath, a short week later, on February 4th in San Diego, it was the
American record for 1000 yards that fell, his 2:06.8 following splits of 53.7 and 1:51.0.  
C:\Users\Daryl\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\Top - Copy.jpg
An  early attempt at the one mile distance produced his best indoor clocking. The LA Invitational saw him
chasing Jim Ryun to the line in 4:03.3 to Ryun’s 4:02.3 but besting Dyrol Burleson’s 4:03.8.   A two-week break
and Tom was busy again, hitting 4:02.6 in a mass finish at the New York AC Games while his 49er TC mates
won the 2-mile Relay in 7:29.8 (McCalla-1:53.4 Taylor-1:53.3 J. Perry-1:53.0 and anchor Preston Davis-1:50.1).
Oregon and Fordham fell with good times of 7:30.2 and 7:31.8.Tom was in action again in Louisville for the
Mason-Dixon Games and cemented his stellar credentials with yet another World Record at 880 yards. This
was accomplished on an oversized 220 yard track with wildly differing negative splits. Passing 440 in 56.5 Tom
ripped 52.5 for his 1:49.0 World Record.  Tom’s quote after the race: “The early pace was a little slow. You
usually set records with a faster first quarter.”  Tom wrapped up his indoor season with a National AAU
Indoor Championship 2-Mile victory. Hosted in the Oakland Arena, the officials miss-marked the passing zones
but adjusted splits to fairly accurate times. Darryl Taylor’s 1:55.2 was enough for a 10 yard lead over NYAC’s
1:56.7. John Perry split 1:54.6 while a flu weakened Tom Von Ruden just held off NYAC’s Bryne’s 1:53.1.
Preston Davis, reporting to the Army in San Pedro, California the next Tuesday, anchored in 1:52.5 for a short
stride victory as  the 49ers went 7:36.9 and NYAC clocked 7:37.0.


Von Ruden’s 2:06.8 American Record and 3:56.9 AAU Effort

he US list for outdoor performances in 1967 showed the results of this new independence.  Tom Von Ruden
now a 49er, ran 1:48.7 for 800 meters at the World Games for 3rd place in June.  In March, John Perry’s 1:48.1
was decidedly faster when translated into 800 meters, a PR of 1:47.4.  Dave Perry’s 1:49.6 for 880 translates to
1:48.9 for meters in a tri-meet at Occidental in May. Von Ruden’s 1:49.6, although slightly inferior to his World
Games mark, still ranked even with Dave Perry’s ’67 best. Former team mate Jim Metcalfe, still at Oklahoma,
made the top 20 for the year with a solid 1:49.0 for 880 good for 1:48.3 meters.  

One explanation for the relative “ordinary” 800 mark for Von Ruden was his apparent focus on the 1500/mile
events as his chosen shot at making the Olympic team in Mexico City in 1968.  In pursuit of that dream, it looks
like the 800/880 was an afterthought, perhaps a way to work on his leg speed for the Olympic Trials. And here,
Tom had a stellar season. Tom and future team mate Sam Bair made the most of their National AAU race in the
night air of Bakersfield, California, on June22-23. Tom followed Jim Ryun in his heat, both hitting 4:07.5.  Ryun
had stated a goal of going under 3:50 but the early pace, 59.0/1:58.9 negated that goal. 2:57.4 at 1320 set up a
sprinter’s finish, Ryun lowering his world record to 3:51.1 while towing the field to one of history’s deepest sub-4
results. Tom’s first open mile under 4:00 was stellar at 3:56.9 in 4th place, a strong indicator for the Trials some
months later.  On a roll, Tom continued his quest for the Oly Trials, winning  the PAM TRIALS in July as he won
a crazy 1500 by inches at 3:49.7 ahead of Sam Bair-3:49.7, Jim Grelle-3:49.8 and Dave Wilborn-3:49.9.  Tom
also won the Pam Am Games 1500 in a slow (2:05/3:04) pace mad dash to the finish line, hitting 3:43.3 over
Sam Bair’s 3:44.1. Extending the season even longer, Tom lowered his 1500 best to 3:41.0 while winning the
America vs Europe race over Arne Kvalheim , Jean Wadoux and Sam Bair. It was beginning to look like that
mostly idle indoor season was paying off. T&F News’ World List for August now found Von Ruden occupying #8
at 1500 and #5 in the  mile.

Von Ruden Chases Ryun in 4:03.3 and Downs Dyrol Burleson

Finds International success in America vs Europe with 3:41.0

Thank you for sending this. Many memories. I think John Perry also ran for the Marines. I was on the Marine team a couple of years before John. By the time John was running for the Marines, I was in Vietnam.
Your friend,

Woody Young

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...