Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

V 10 N. 36 Tokyo Considering Cost of Cancelling 2021

April 29, 2020
Shinzo Abe has now spoken before the Japanese Diet (parliament) inferring that the Olympics of 2021 may also have to be cancelled.   Sean Ingle writing for The Guardian today wrote the following story.

Published onWed 29 Apr 2020 17.33 BST
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has given the starkest warning yet that the rearranged Tokyo Olympics next year might have to be cancelled completely, saying it would be difficult to stage them if the coronavirus pandemic is not contained.
Speaking in the Japanese parliament, Abe stressed the importance of developing vaccines and drugs to combat Covid-19 before the Games begin on 23 July next year. “The Olympic Games must be held in a way that shows the world has won its battle against the coronavirus pandemic,” he said. “Otherwise, it will be difficult to hold them.
“We’ve been saying we will hold the Olympics and Paralympics in which athletes and spectators can participate safely and in a complete form. I think they cannot be held in a complete form if the pandemic is not contained.”
Abe’s comments came a day after the Tokyo 2020 president, Yoshiro Mori, was asked whether the Games could be delayed until 2022 if the pandemic remains a threat next year. “No,” he replied. “In that case, it’s cancelled.”
Health experts – including Dr Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House’s coronavirus task force – have said that development of a vaccine for the disease is at least a year to 18 months away.
This week the Japan Medical Association also expressed doubt over whether the Games could go ahead without a vaccine. But a senior International Olympic Committee official said that was not necessarily the case. “I saw that opinion,” John Coates, the head of the IOC’s coordination commission, said. “But the advice we’re getting from the World Health Organisation says we should continue to plan for this date and that is what we’re doing, and that’s not contingent on a vaccine.
“A vaccine would be nice. But we will just continue to be guided, as we must be, by WHO and the Japanese health authorities because, in all of this, the health and wellbeing of the athletes and other participants in the Games is the number-one priority.”
In an open letter to the Olympic movement the IOC president, Thomas Bach, said the organisation was reviewing its budget and priorities because of the pandemic and postponed Tokyo 2020 Games. Bach warned there needed to be a “comprehensive debate” to shape sport in a post-coronavirus world – and proposed a wide-ranging consultation on the future challenges and possibilities including looking “more closely into the proliferation of sports events”.
The IOC president also confirmed the postponement of the Tokyo Games would cost it hundreds of millions of dollars. “Although it is too early to give an exact figure, we already know that we have to shoulder several hundred million US dollars of postponement costs,” Bach wrote. “This is why we also need to look into and review all the services that we provide for these postponed Games.” He said everyone would have to make sacrifices and compromises.
Bach declared it too early to say what the future would look like, but it was clear “probably none of us will be able to sustain every single initiative or event that we were planning before this crisis hit”, adding: “At this moment, nobody knows what the realities of the post-coronavirus world will look like. For the Olympic movement as a whole, we may also have to look more closely into the proliferation of sports events, as we already discussed at previous Olympic summits.
“The financial pressure on all the stakeholders, including National Olympic committees, international federations and organising committees, may require more consolidation in this respect.”

Thursday, April 23, 2020

V10 N. 35 Part II- El Caballo's Training Schedule

Bruce Kritzler was able to track down this speech given by Alberto Juantorena in 1985 outlining his training from 1971 up to the Olympics in 1976.  It appeared on the website 


translated by one Victor Lopez.  In the documentation you will see on Saturday July 17, 1976,  Juantorena lists that workout from which the picture in the previous posting appears.  He notes that the workout consisted of 3 x 600 in 1:31, 1:21, and 1:19.  Our source who provided the picture added that the rest interval was 15 minutes.  I find it amazing that we could cobble this information together based on a photo out of a forty-four years old scrapbook and the internet.  Amazingly despite terrible political relations, then as well as now,  between the US and Cuba, Juantorena was able to travel to the US to give the Keynote speech in 1985 when The Athletics Congress (TAC) met in Houston, Texas.

The piece is rather lengthy and a bit laborious to read yet it is a very revealing portrait of the system used in Cuba in those days with the added expertise of a Polish coach.

After the meltdown of the Communist Bloc in Europe in 1989, a lot of this coaching and other forms of aid dried up and returned to Europe.  But as some have noted, Cuba has an incredibly rich culture and picked up certain technical knowledge from the Eastern Bloc in those days and made itself a vibrant nation despite the US boycott on their economy.  They have one of the best health care systems in the world and export and train more doctors into the developing world than just about any other nation.  When I was teaching in Zimbabwe from 1982-85, children graduating from rural schools were being sent to Cuba for medical school.

It is also true that Cuba provided technical and military expertise during the liberation movements in southern Africa as was the West.  It was part of the game being played by the Soviets, the Chinese, and the Americans in those days.  If you think this sounds far fetched, check out this story of a naval engagement fought on Lake Tanganyika located between Tanzania and the Congo between Cuban CIA mercenaries and Che Guevara representing the East.  They even used 'Swift Boats'.  Remember those?


The armaments were overlapping with both sides using each other's weapons.    There were victories and defeats in both camps in those times.

Now the struggle for hearts and minds between those former and current 'enemies'  has taken on a different character, but it is still there.   In the past the Soviets and their satellites battled on the athletic stage as well as inside the countries they were trying to influence.    They brought African students to Eastern Europe and China to study while the Americans offered Rockefeller and Ford Foundation scholarships to do the same.  Both sides were hoping that those students would return to their countries and when in positions of influence, they would turn to their 'educators' to make business deals and economic agreements.  Today it seems much less an "us versus them"  notion on the sports fields. I'm not going to get into drug testing past and present, you are all very aware of that story.  Apart from football (soccer) and rugby there seems to be much less nationalism being displayed.  It is more the individuals and their agents that are important as well as their contracts with shoe manufacturers.  And one 'economic system' versus another 'system' is less the issue.  Globalization has changed the context of the sports world.  Africans are representing a multitude of nations other than those where they were born. Soccer teams are multinational.   The competition on the field is just as fierce, but the driving factors are very different.
As Deputy Minister of Sport in Cuba, it would be interesting to know what Juantorena thinks of all this.  George Brose

George —

Rudisha came by 600 m in his London Oly WR in 1:14.30 — 4.7 faster that el Caballo’s third 600 interval following another 15 minute rest.  Bork and I ran 3 wks before his stunning 1961 runaway NCCA win 10 x 440 with a 55 yrd jog and a 55 yrd walk between each — chop chop chop — and John averaged high 58s or very low 59s.  Dales was there on the watch.    This on a slightly soft cinder track in our stadium.  Rest was minimal and it was punishing @ — physically for me  —  about 17 at the time.   This was after we swept the MAC Champs 880 along with Richard Greene, RIP. 

Watching that London final, he came by in 49.28 leading and absolutely hammered that 3rd 200 m running a 25.02 and finishing w a 26.61. Between 600 and 700 m, the Botswanan, Nigel Amos, but 18 @ the time, actually closed some of the distance between he and Rudisha.   The per 200 m average for the Kenyan was 25.22.   Smokin’.  

The Maasai Warrior re-incarnated —drawing on eons of selective ancestral DNA running down game in hot conditions @ 6500 - 8000 ft.   The fluid biomechanics.   The OLY stage.  His stride length.  The efficiency while running that fast.  The supreme package of traits melded together — all in a single human being.  

Will we ever see such a man like he or Hikam el Guerrouj again —given what is happening with the planet’s increasing carbon dioxide?   This is in the middle of the 22nd year El G has held the WR in the mile and 21st for the 1500 m.   At no time in modern history has either record survived for anything like those periods.  He also holds the 2000 m record in 4:44 and change — meaning at even pace throughout he had to come by the mile in 3:49.  The North African.    The Moroccan.   Simply stunning.  World records reveal to us of what man is capable.   The pinnacle of athletic achievement and daring do.   

What better.   


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

V 10 N. 34 El Caballo

Let's start with the picture.  Here is Alberto Juantorena in his skivvies at the practice track in Montreal (Centre Claude Robillard) in 1976.
Looks well toned but not ripped by today's standards.

A good friend who wishes to remain anonymous has sent this in and asks that it not be reproduced.

Said that in prep for the 800 that day he had done 3 x 600 about 1:21.  Had a Polish coach Zabierzowski  there timing with another Polish coach.

His campadres:

 Leandro Civil on left ran 800 at Montreal.  Eliminated in semis.
Civil had the following podium finishes at major championships: 2nd in the 1975 Pan American Games 800 metres. In the 1971 Pan American Games 800 metres he finished fifth and in the 1979 Pan American Games 800 metres he finished sixth.
Personal Best: 800 1:45.88 (1976).

 Luis Medina Eliminated in first rounds of 800 and 1500  1:50.15 and 3:42.71
He had won the Pan Am Games 800 and was 3rd in the 1500 in 1975.

Juantorena's Bio from Sports-reference.com

Alberto Juantorena, known as El Caballo, or The Horse, began as a basketball player but was discovered as a sprinter and competed at the 1972 Olympics, making the semi-finals of the 400 metres. In 1973, Juantorena won the 400 at the Universiade and in 1975 won two silver medals - 400 metres and 4x400 metres relay (with [Eddy Gutierrez], Carlos Ãlvarez, and DÃmaso Alfonso) - at the Pan American Games. In 1976 he increased his range and won the 400 and 800 at the Montreal Olympics, the 800 in a world-record time of 1:43.50 and the 400 in a low-altitude world record of 44.26. In 1977, Juantorena won the 400 and 800 at the first World Cup of Athletics, and in that year set another world record in the 800, running 1:43.44 in Sofia at the Universiade.  In 1979 he won again silver in 400 metres and bronze with the 4x400 metres relay team (with Carlos Ãlvarez and the non-Olympians Pedro Tanis and Frank Montiah at the Pan American Games. At the Central American and Caribbean Games, Juantorena won the 400 in both 1974 and 1978, and the 800 in 1978 and 1982.
He was World Ranked #1 in the 400 in 1974, 1976, 1977, and 1978, and in the 800 in 1976-77, and was voted World Athlete of the Year in 1976 and 1977. Juantorena competed at the 1980 Olympics with less success and competed at the first World Athletics Championships in 1983, where he broke his foot after finishing his heat in the first round of the 800 when he stepped on the inner track border, after which he retired from competition. He has since become the Vice-Minister of Sports in Cuba.
Personal Bests: 400 44.26 (1976); 8001:43.44 (1977).

1972 Munich 400m   Round 1  45.94   (1)
                     Quarters            45.96   (2)
                     Semis                46.07   (5)

1976 Montreal 400m  Round 1  47.89   (3)
                      Quarters           45.92   (2)
                      Semis               45.10   (1)
                      Final                 44.26   (1)

1976   800m    Round 1  1:47.15 (1)
                       Semis     1:45.88 (1)
                       Final       1:43.50 (1) WR

1976   4x400    Final       3:03.81 (7)  44.7 split

1980 Moscow 400m  Round 1     46.98  (3)
                                Quarters    46.23  (2)
                                Semis        45.95  (3)
                                Final          45.09  (4)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtsTHhep_DA  Here's the double on youtube. Thanks to Steve Smith for the link.

Alberto's nephew  Osmany Juantorena Portundo was also an Olympian playing volleyball  in 2016  for Italy.
Same weight 187 but 6' 6.5"

"Juantourena ran 7 races in 7 days covering 2.5 miles in 8 minutes and 15 seconds, give or take a few seconds...mile split 3:18 and pace was about 18.18mph...I always wondered how much weight he lost...looks pretty skinny there...I saw the semi where he beat Wolhouter...he had a long stride...met him in Japan, got a pix but lord knows where that is...Russ"

In retrospect, our sport had very low fashion standards compared to others. I like that about T&F.


See the next post for a continuation of this article.

V 10 N33 A Track Story Coming In Via The Back Door

In this business we come about information  and stories through indirect channels.  In this case a string of conversations got forwarded to me from Bruce Kritzler in Florida.  Bruce a long time friend,  runner/pole vaulter, punk rocker,  and coach at several institutions purporting to be of higher learning sent me this picture of Barry Brown, Dave Wottle, and Dick Buerkle.  The conversants were unsure of the day and place of that race, but it sparked an exchange of information as is oft the case when old track guys get together.  We learn new bits of trivia which need to be recorded before they are forgotten.

For Example:   Each year there is a memorial run held off the grid by Barry Brown's friends from the old days.  I usually see mention of it in Bruce's correspondence.

The first note that came across my desk from this 'gathering' , included a book review from Geoff Pietsch.  Geoff's input centered around the middle distance running community in New York State in the 1970s.  It refers to Russ Ebbetts, editor of Track Coach, formerly Track Technique and a book, "Supernova"  that Russ wrote about his first year in the Villanova running program.  Here is Geoff's review.
June 10, 2003
This book is a collection of fictionalized stories based on Ebbets's freshman year as a runner at Villanova University. Villanova was among the elite of U.S. college track. It was coached by Jumbo Jim Elliot and it was especially noted for its great Irish distance runners including 1956 Olympic 1500 champ Ron Delaney and Eamon Coughlan, the only man to break 3:50 indoors and also the only 40+ runner to break 4:00.
Ebbets's stories are wonderful. They will ring true to anyone who has experienced, or is even tangentially familiar with, the life of serious competitive collegiate distance runners. His tales are fascinating, funny, and moving - and inspirational. "Supernova" deserves to be ranked with the cult classic "Once a Runner" as the best depictions of the training and travails, the life, of elite endurance runners.

Russ got into the conversation regarding the picture and like any good trackster, he has added more information about things forgotten.
Wottle Buerkle Brown.
Caption above is a little off in its description as this is probably mid race,  perhaps the caption reflects the ultimate finish result.  Imagine today three guys of this caliber in world rankings running against each other in a small venue meet in Rochester, NY.  No money on the line, no TV, no agents, only a contest between individuals with their resumes on the line.  Where could this happen today?  Actually nowhere because of social distancing, but Covid 19 aside, this could not happen anymore.  

Russ' reply to Geoff,

Geoff - 
A little history in this picture. I was not there but if it was 1973 I remember seeing the clipping in the Albany Times Union. There were so few races back then that any mention of track and field was eagerly devoured. In '73 I would have ended my freshman year at Villanova. I came home and Frank Meyers had the Adirondack AAU meet at Colonie High. I ran and won the 880y in a then lifetime PR of 157.1 and got the headline the next day over some guy named Harry Marra (Ashton Eaton's future coach) who won the 220. It was my first race of the year and I think the only one I ran that summer. Track in the old days. 

When I ran for the NYAC and the family moved from LI to Saratoga for good I had contacted Jim Rafferty at the NYAC and asked him about races. He put me in contact with Barry Brown who subsequently wrote me a letter detailing what few options there were in the Capitol District.  I have searched high and low for that letter but it seems to be long gone. This may provide some back story to the ARG story "A Wrinkle in Time" regarding Bill Schrader and Frank Meyer's efforts in developing track and field in the area.

I ran against Barry several times in some of the Colonie meets over the years. In the mile, it was never close. He'd cruise through the mile in 414 range while I struggled back in the low 420's. One time I had him the 800, great tactical race with Dennis Contois (a Union 1:53er) with 120 to go I had them both but Barry came storming back and nipped me in the last 20m. Billy Robinson had a little more luck and Miles was in the 3000m at the Christmas Rush from the Wrinkle story. Joe Curtin eventually broke Barry's Colonie Summer Meet record in the 2 mile.

Dick Buerkle was the reason I finally decided on Villanova. He was a walk-on (Ed. perhaps the greatest walk on ever) that had a great college career (5k/10k IC4A Champion beating Ron Stonitsch of CW Post) and went on to set the world record in the indoor mile at 3:55. I figured I'd roll the dice and if he did it maybe I could too. I've never met him but know that he taught at McQuaid HS in Rochester for a while and that would explain his Rochester Track Club jersey. He grew up on the Southern Tier of NYS (Elmira? Corning?) one of the smaller towns down there but this meet would have been one of the old Niagara Association's meets that pre-dated TAC, the Empire State Games and USATF.

And then there is Bobby Knight's most famous track athlete. Yes, I am talking about Indiana's chair-throwing basketball coach who started his coaching career somewhere in Ohio and a kid showed up for junior high track practice named Dave Wottle. Not sure if he was wearing a hat. That must have been some race.

Best - Russ

And then a correction from Russ:
I have a correction...I have it on good authority (email from Dave Wottle) that Bobby Knight did not coach him during his running career (see note below from George Brose)...I have also included the link from Let's Run where I get all my news...stay well...R  (see Letsrun link below).

From Dave Wottle...To: George Brose <irathermediate@gmail.com
Hey George. I appreciate the email. I was talking to Sid (Sink) just the other day to catch up. He’s doing fine by the way. That story about Bobby Knight being my middle school coach is a fabrication. He never was and in fact I didn’t even run in middle school. That story started about 20 years ago on the Internet and is obviously still hanging around. Glad I could clarify for you. Take care.

Editor's note:  Here is why the mythology had to be questioned.  I grew up in Ohio but had left the state and track by the wayside in the late sixties and early 70's, but I did not recall Dave Wottle coming out of Cuyhoga Falls, Ohio , where according to his resume, Bob Knight had coached one year before going to West Point to coach the Cadets.  Several conversations went back and forth between myself, Geoff Pietsch, and Russ Ebbets  before we put the myth of the Knight/Wottle relationship to rest.  Eventually I contacted Sid Sink,  Dave's teammate at Bowling Green.  Sid provided me a contact and Dave Wottle graciously put the story where it belonged.  These things happen all the time.  This blog is as guilty as any with providing unsubstantiated stories and myth perpetuation.  The great part of it however is that often the parties in those stories contact us to tell us how things really went down.  Napoleon Bonaparte once said that "History is a series of lies agreed upon."    So far, no one has sued us for defamation.  Apparently the first mention of this myth came on a thread or unattributed article on Letsrun.    This little bit of sleuthing has given me something to do in this age of lockdown and social distancing other than take pride in how much grass growing in the cracks of my sidewalk has now been removed.

Here is the link on Letsrun where the myth  appears.  Note there is no attribution to the name of the writer or the writer's source.  We are in no way saying you should cancel your subscription to Letsrun.  They are a tremendous source of information on our sport.  The world is full of inaccuracies as we all know if we watch the news.


The link also notes that Barry Switzer was a big time track fan which I can corroborate.  About ten years ago, before I started this blog,  I was at the Big Twelve conference meet in Norman, OK, and Switzer, already retired from a successful college and NFL coaching career, spent most of that Saturday at the meet.  

 Dick Buerkle, according to Wikipedia,  eventually moved to the Atlanta area and taught Spanish, and was a successful track and cross country coach retiring in 2014.

Below is an Amazon ad for another of Russ Ebbets' books,  "A Runner's Guide" .

Monday, April 20, 2020

V 10 N. 33 A few guys showed up at Boston today

Got this from Ned Price who the last two years has provided photos day of Boston.  Race is off this April, but a few hardcore showed up.  Note the guy is wearing an analog watch.  And New Balance 320s.  Definitely a throwback.

Thanks be to Ned Price for sending these photos our way.

Friday, April 17, 2020

V10 N. 32 Forty-Two Years Ago Today in Boston

April 17, 2020

Walt Murphy reminds us in his blog today that forty-two years ago, Bill Rodgers won the Boston Marathon.Walt Murphy's This Day in Track and Field

This date also stirs some memories for me as that was my only run at Boston.
My college roommate Mike Hewitt was living in the Boston area back then and hosted me that weekend.  That included Mike's taking me on a ride over the course on Sunday, the day before the race. 

The day started well and Mike got me downtown in time to get a bus out to the start.  I recall going into the Hopkinton HS gym and going into the dressing room to relax, not knowing this was sacred ground reserved for the elite runners.  A few minutes after stretching out on a bench,  Jock Semple the race organizer who had a few years ago tried, unsuccessfully, to tackle Kathy Switzer,  came storming into the locker room and unceremoniously threw me and several others out of there with a string of expletives that would make a Marine drill sergeant blush.  T'was indeed a great curse.

I came to Boston with a 2hr 35 minute marathon best under my belt at Quebec City on a hilly course.  I fully expected to be under 2hr. 30min. that day.  But like many a plodder I was humbled by my grand expectations and the effects of Heart Break Hill.  In those days there were no mile markers or refreshments handed out.  You had to rely on your inbred sense of pace to know how you were doing.  I probably was running way over my head those first fifteen miles.  I got over the hill okay in the race but hit the wall soon after and walked and jogged in to the finish in 2 hr. 51 min.

Later while resting on a cot in an underground parking garage, I heard another runner moaning that he couldn't stand pain, as a doctor or EMT was trimming blisters on his feet.   I looked over and it was Bill Rodgers.  I think Bill was known to be one of self deprecating humor.

Bob Hall

Don Kardong (7th)  2:14:07  and Jeff Wells (2nd) 2:10:15

Eda Tikkanen (3rd) 2:11:15

Tom Fleming (10) 2:14:44

Frank Shorter (23rd) 2:18:15
The finish Rodgers ahead of Wells and a protestor, from the Balkans

Bill Rodgers (1st) 2:10:13

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

V 10 N. 31 A Centenary Mile That Almost No One Remembers

For our  North American readers, myself included,  this story may be a bit confusing at first because it is in a form of English and Culture of which we understand very little.  If you follow cricket, it may mean more to you.

I just ask you to bear with the introduction here, because it will lead you to a rare event put on at the Melbourne Cricket Club in Australia while England and Australian cricket teams were playing for the Ashes in 1977 in a meeting referred to as the Centenary.   During that series of matches which  obviously go on for days much like the World Series of Baseball,  an exhibition mile run was set up on the grass in the Melbourne Cricket Ground where the 1956 Olympics had been held 21 years prior.  The then World Record Holder and Olympic Champion at 1500 meters,  John Walker of New Zealand was to be pitted against Australia's best Graham Crouch.   God, that verb "pitted" must have a terrible origin.  Probably comes from pit fighting of English 17th and 18th century sport in which animals were placed in a pit to have go at each other while spectators placed their bets.   The rat terrier breed got its name from how many rats it could kill in a pit in a given amount of time.  Anyway back to running.  Here is the story, be patient going through the first part and enjoy the rest.  George

Thanks to today's  The Guardian  April 14, 2020 by Adam Collins

John Walker relaxes after setting the one-mile record in 1975

It started with a tweet. On 4 March 2018, reacting to the news that barrier-busting miler Roger Bannister had died, Mike Selvey – the long-term lord of this manor – posted the following: “The great John Walker ran a sub-four-minute mile on a track laid out on the outfield of the MCG during the Centenary Test in March 1977.”
Hold up. He did what? During the most fondly recalled Test ever staged at the G?
When Google turned up nothing, my interest was piqued. I pledged to Selve – a member of that England touring squad and a trifle unlucky to miss selection after an impressive showing in the warm-up game – that I would get to the bottom of it. Well, that was more than two years ago. As is often the case current events overtook but with no such excuse anymore I went digging.
As context for those less familiar with the events of that week the occasion would still have been remarkable. Before the Test was played Wisden already declared it would be the “greatest event in cricket history”. Of the 244 living Ashes players invited to Melbourne, all but 26 made it. Jack Ryder, at 87, was the oldest Australian, dying three weeks later. His opponent from 1920-21, Percy Fender, led 79 Englishmen off their flight, the 84-year-old in a wheelchair.
The tale of the match turned out to be just as momentous, the touchstones of it requiring little further explanation: Lillee, Marsh, Willis, Hookes, Greig, McCosker, Randall, the collapses, the chase… the Queen! Oh, and that the margin was 45 runs in favour of the hosts – spookily, just as it was in the inaugural fixture they were marking from exactly 100 years before.
But let’s zero in on the third day – the one that opened the door to this Test evolving into a classic after a pair of first-innings collapses. It was on that third afternoon when the 21-year-old debutant David Hookes brashly drove and pulled the England captain Tony Greig’s off-spin to the rope five times in a row. Later, Rick McCosker emerged with a mummified face after Bob Willis broke his jaw the first time around. My dad, in attendance as a 15-year-old, remembers the crowd singing “Waltzing McCosker” as he continued hooking safely through to stumps. As he’s relayed to me many times – employing an old MCG trope – 55,399 were in the stands for this memorable day in Australian Test history but “half a million say they were”.
Before lunch, Walker – an Olympic champion nine months earlier – changed into his famous all-black running kit. At this point Selvey recalls catching his first glimpse of the mighty New Zealander’s distinctive long blond hair and thick thighs. Having won gold in the 1500m at the 1976 Montreal Olympics he was a superstar in the tradition of Trans-Tasman middle-distance giants of the previous quarter-century, from Herb Elliott and Peter Snell to Ron Clarke and John Landy. His event was unmistakably blue riband in Melbourne, the Olympic city itself in 1956.But when Walker emerged for the start of the Centenary Mile, as it was billed, it would not be alongside the man he expected – Australia’s best at the distance, Graham Crouch. The “little Australian”, as he was described on commentary during the frenetic 1974 Commonwealth Games 1500m, was also in the placings when the Kiwi became the first man to break 3:50 for the mile in 1975 and then trailed Walker in his successful Olympic final in 1976. He elected to sit out the race, watching from the stands. Ken Hall, the national champion from only three days earlier, did likewise, citing exhaustion.
The field of four Walker had left were, The Age described, “willing but weak” by comparison. Combined with blustery conditions and a grass track, the organisers’ hopes of a sub-four-minute time were dashed. The champion sat back before going to work in the final 300m, newspaper reports saying he bolted in by 30m in 4:05. One of the other runners, Dr Peter Larkins – an Olympian who went on to enjoy a distinguished career as a sports physician after retiring from the track – agrees it was not the mix of conditions required for a rapid pace.
Memories of Walker’s storming finish, with a final lap of 54sec, tallies with the recollection of Jim Maxwell – 26 at the time – who then had just called his first of more than 300 Tests the month before. He made the trip partly to work but mostly to socialise, as he did with John Arlott and Alan McGilvray, the man from whom Maxwell would later inherit the tag as the voice of Australian cricket. “When you saw him you had to stop,” he recalls of the race. “You didn’t turn your head. You just watched because he was a very attractive athlete.”

John Walker ran the Centenary Mile around the MCG during one of the venue’s most fondly-recalled Tests in March 1977.
 John Walker ran the Centenary Mile around the MCG during one of the venue’s most fondly-recalled Tests. Composite: Mony Fresco/ANL/Shutterstock/Getty Images

Walker’s disappointment in his rival Crouch was unmistakable, calling it a “very bad show” from the local lad. “Graham is supposed to be the best runner in Australia,” he said. “The crowd expected him to run and he should have run.” But Dr Larkins’ perspective is that this was simply reflective of their competitive relationship. For taking part in the race, they all received a brass wine goblet in which Larkins keeps his pens at home to this day.
“It always surprises people when I say the biggest crowd that I ran in front of was not at the Olympics but at the MCG during the cricket! And I have very fond memories of John. He was the track star. It was not my most glorious performance but it was such an honour.”
After finding out all there was on the public record and talking to those who remembered it – not even the illustrious MCG Library has formal documentation of the race – Walker (Sir John, since 2009) kindly agreed to talk to The Spin from his home in Auckland. He might have slowed down over the past two decades owing to Parkinson’s disease but it has not lessened his broader contribution, a decade as a local government councillor only ending last October on retiring at 67.
“You are the first person to bring it up with me for over 40 years,” Walker began. He was understandably reluctant to reflect on what happened that day with his old sparring partner Crouch, who died from cancer last year, instead focusing on the honour of performing in front of packed grandstands.
“I remember going down the back straight being a fair way behind and realising that if I didn’t get into gear I wasn’t going to catch them. So, I took off and won quite easily in the end. Thank you for bringing it up.”
Walker would not top his 1976 triumph, thwarted by injury and then a boycott, which denied him a chance to defend his Olympic crown in 1980. He never stopped running the mile, becoming the first to break four minutes on 100 occasions in 1985 and going on to do so 135 times.
As for Selvey he is pleased his affinity with New Zealand and running did not collude to trick him into believing something that wasn’t. “I thought it might have been something I wanted to have happened,” he says. “There didn’t seem to be any recollection from anyone.” Well, there is now.
Signing off from the telecast, Frank Tyson described the Centenary Test as “the Olympic Games of cricket”. What’s irrefutable is that Olympic spirit did return to a cricket ground that magnificent week, through one of the greatest of them all.
 This is an extract from the Guardian’s weekly cricket email, The Spin. To subscribe, just visit this page and follow the instructions.

Friday, April 10, 2020

V 10 N. 30 Ed Winrow R.I.P.

This article is from Gary Corbitt's running blog
Wed, Apr 8, 5:15 AM (1 day ago)

Edward J. Winrow (1937 – 2020)
LSD – Long Slow Distance

When I learned that Ed was seriously ill, I sent him this message.

Dear Ed:

Thank you for the many ways as a champion athlete and coach you’ve given back to long distance running and track & field.

You along with others from previous eras deserve to be in the Road Runner Club of American (RRCA) Hall of Fame.  I’ll always do all I can to ensure that the work you and other first generation (1958-1970) New York Road Runners (NYRR) are never forgotten.  I use the term you coined “Sedgwick Avenue Gang” often in describing the people and race course that gave birth to NYRR in 1958 at MaCombs Dam Park.  The NYRR is now over 70,000 members with 53,000 finishers in the NYC Marathon.  We could never could have imagined this growth in road running since the Sedgwick Avenue days.

As you know during my teenage years, I witnessed the modern day sport of long distance running being invented by people like yourself. History is fragile; easily lost, distorted and forgotten.  I’ll always do all I can to properly preserve this great history of our sport that you helped make happen.

I’m also eternally grateful for the love you had for my father and your work in developing a move/play script about his life and his running battles with Jim McDonagh.

I and the running community are always pulling for you Ed.

Gary Corbitt

John McCarroll – Gaelic American AC was one of Sedgwick Avenue gang I use to see racing as a teenager during the 1960s. John said the following after learning of Ed’s passing.  “I never trained with Ed but I understand that he did mostly long slow runs. He was sort of a pioneer in long, slow runs. I used to train at an outdoor 11 laps/mile wooden track in the winter and I remember he appeared once while I was doing 200 yard intervals. He stopped and looked but didn't join in. He just kept on doing his long run. It worked well for him; he was a terrific runner, one of the very best in the U.S.”

Ed was a champion runner who achieved excellent results on slow training runs. The book “Long Slow Distance: The Humane Way to Train” by Joe Henderson tells the stories of five fellow revolutionaries (Amby Burfoot, Bob Deines, Tom Osler, Ed Winrow and Jeff Kroot) who all revolted against speed training.  Ed was a master at even pace or negative split running.  His wins usually included strong and dominating closing miles. 

In 1966 he won three national titles including setting an American Record for one hour run on the track running 11 miles, 1334 yards in breaking Norm Higgins record.

Ed’s national championship win at 30K was March 27, 1966
Silver Springs, Maryland
Ed Winrow 1:40:19.6
Lou Castagola 1:40:52
Gar Williams 1:41:03.6
Tom Osler 1:43:38
Paul Hoffman 1:44:01

Ed’s national championship win at 25K was October 9, 1966
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Ed Winrow 1:19:13.2
Ralph Buschman 1:21:43
Herb Lorenz 1:24:47
John Dockstader 1:24:51
Tom Osler 1:25:46

Ed set the 4 mile cross-country record at Van Cortlandt Park (2 laps of Cemetery Hill) on October 2, 1966.  His time 20:03.2 broke John McDonnell’s record.

On April 26, 1964 Ed Winrow won his 5th straight Metropolitan AAU road race over the legendary MaCombs Dam Park course in the Bronx.  Ed tied Oscar Moore’s 4 mile course record of 20:17 and broke Oscar’s 8 mile record with a time of 40:40.2 on this date.

Gary Corbitt
Curator: Ted Corbitt Archives
Historian: National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA)

My mentor at Ball State University Human Performance Laboratory, Dr. David L. Costill was the pioneer of research in long distance running when the sport was just starting to popularize.  Here are some words from Dr. Costill about Ed.  This appeared in a Runners World interview.  George

RWD: How did you get into this field?
DC: I always liked sport. My sport was swimming. I guess I'm more genetically suited to that than running. I was captain of the swimming team at Ohio University. And I was always interested in biology, how things worked. I was dissecting frogs when I was six, seven years old. But, when I went to college I had no intention of getting into biology, but I took a physiology course and I was hooked. I wanted to know why things worked. Same with running, when I got into that, I wanted to know why all these guys were faster than me.

I had been coaching and Ball State wanted to start a lab. I applied and got the job. When I arrived there, all there was was an empty room. I was able to recruit the money and get things going. But the real fortunate thing that happened was that Ed Winrow showed up to do graduate work. He knew all the top runners in the U.S. So we were able to get them to come in and we could study them.

Dave Costill just sent the following to Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Ed was a great guy with a wonderful sense of humor. We all enjoyed running with him.  Despite being a fast racer his long slow training allowed even the least talented jogger to run with him. I asked him one time how it felt to train at 8:30 per mile and then race an indoor 2 mile in 8:41.  His response was:  “I’m sure you know how it feels to run an all-out 200 meters?  Well, you do that and just keep it going for 2 miles “
Ed was one of the great characters of my career and the world of distance running. 

It was because of his stories that I became interested in heat stroke and dehydration in distance runners.  His time in the lab coincided with our first research with Gatorade/sports drinks. Those studies and Ed were instrumental in starting the HPL. Where would we have been without Ed Winrow. 

Dave (Costill)

I do not remember when/where Ed and I had this conversation. I am guessing it was a Friday night after a long first day of a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Outdoor Track & Field Championship Meet. I do not remember the year or the site.
We were sitting with other coaches in a bar, all telling (running) war stories. Ed told of the time he was running in one of the big-time road races...I don't remember if it was a 25K or 30K, but I do know it was not a 5K, 10K or 15K.
Ed and another runner were leading the field. Ed fell behind a bit but was able to maintain contact. Ed said that he wasn't feeling great but with less than a mile to go, he new if he did not do something soon he would have no chance. Ed mustered up enough energy to catch the lead dog with about 800 meters to go. He was huffing and puffing, but was able to hold it in and said to the leader, 'I'm feeling good. Do you want to go for the gold or run in together?' The other run looked left, saw Ed and knowing what Ed could do, said 'Let's run in together and tie.' They did that and Ed said that he was very fortunate to tie for first. One has to remember that back then there was no FAT timing to go to .001 part of a second. 
I won't guarantee that Ed told the 'truth' but I will guarantee that Ed told us this story. Ed was a 'wonderful' character!
Dick Daymont

Rich Englhart in his essay about Joe Henderson, Just Joe, briefly mentions Ed Winrow in the body of the piece:  ....... A few weeks later at the AAU 15-kilometer championship in St. Paul, Minnesota, Joe met Ed Winrow, a New Yorker who had done graduate work in exercise physiology at Ball State University, and was one of the better road racers in the US at the time. His best marathon was only 2:34, but he excelled at intermediate distances and would miss the US Olympic marathon team in 1968 by only two places. “He told me he’d been training an hour a day with one two-hour run each week at 7:30 to 8:00 per mile.” On that day, Winrow dispelled any notions Joe might have had that slow training could lead only to slow racing. “Chin hanging in disbelief,” he would later write, “I watched (Ed) reel off mile after mile at 5:00 pace.” At the time, Joe was writing for a newsletter called "Iowans on the Run". His first written piece about long, slow distance training appeared there, explaining his switch to slower training and the success Ed Winrow was having with it.

For those wondering why we would honor Ed,  here is his page in the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS)    Ed Winrow Racing Statistics  clik here

Rich Ceronie former coach at Miami of Ohio and U. of New Mexico was one of Ed's athletes at Brockport State University.   He wrote the following brief story. 
" He was my college track coach at Brockport State (NY).  A great guy, he used to play cards on the bus with all the guys and he was a terrible card player so we would take all the cash he had on him for the trip.  Great times.  Rich"

This and a few responses came from Dick Daymont in Minnesota.

Hi all,

... I am guessing that many or all of you have a connection with Ed as he 

was a 

NCAA College Division All-America cross country runner for Buffalo State in 

1960, a coach at Brockport State, a coach at Valpariso, and a coach at Mansfield
 State (PA) when I was the women's cross country and track coach at 
Bloomsburg State (PA).
David Wee is a near and dear friend of mine who is a retired English prof at 
St. Olaf College, he and spouse are god-parents to one of our children - Megan. 
(Megan is a 6-time DIII All-America in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field). 
David, while a St. Olaf student, was also a NCAA College Division All-America cross 
country runnerand finished one spot behind Ed Winrow in the national meet in 
Wheaton, IL. I believe that Ed and Dave were 4th and 5th respectively.
Anyway, if you knew Ed Winrow, and would like to know more about Ed and/or 
hundreds of others, click on Once Upon a Time in the Vest (below in blue print).
Be safe....stay healthy,

Ronald Fleury

Thanks Dick as I met Ed many times 
but the first was when a few of us ACC(Auburn Community College) runners went
 to Poughkeepsie for their Thanksgiving Day Race(12mi I think). Lots of stories 
about that race and then trip to NYC for the evening. We met Ed in the shower 
where we found out he was the National 50mi Championship winner. We asked
 how he could do that distance and he showed us his secret of a quart jar filled 
with a thick mixture of water and sugar. I almost  got sick thinking about it. 
I saw Ed at a number of XC meets especially Geneseo with his Mansfield teams.
 He was a great guy.

The following was in the Wellsboro Gazette:
Mansfield University and the cross country program are saddened to learn of the 
passing of the program’s second head coach Ed Winrow.
A legendary long-distance runner out of New York, Winrow served as the head 
coach of the Mountaineer cross country team from 1975 to 1988.
The Mounties finished eighth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference three 
times under Winrow, with three athletes earning all-conference honors.
Winrow, known for his dedication to his students and athletes, developed multiple 
Mountaineer trail runs that are still used by the program today.
“Ed and I arrived at Mansfield the same year (1976) and shared an office my first 
10 years,” longtime Athletic Director Roger Maisner said. “Ed was loved by all of 
his colleagues and his student-athletes. He was a great teacher for all of his students
 and student-athletes and he will be missed by many.”
Steve McCloskey, who became full-time sports information director in Winrow’s 
final year.Winrow (1959-1963) ran two years of cross country and track at Buffalo 
State, where he earned All-American honors in 1960 after placing third in the NCAA 
College Division finals. Winrow held 10 records during his career and was MVP of the 
track and field team in 1962. Winrow was inducted into the Buffalo State Athletic Hall 
of Fame in 1977.
Throughout the 1960’s Winrow won several US district championships. Winrow, in the 
first ever U.S. Olympic trials, was the only runner from the surrounding area (New York) 
to place in the top-10 in 1968, finishing in 2:34:51, just four seconds behind the winner.
“I got to meet coach Winrow in 2007 when he came to watch our fabulous men’s cross 
country team that finished fifth at the NCAA regional championship,” current cross 
country head coach Mike Rohl added.
“He was the first to recognize Mansfield’s unique geography and how it could help 
develop great distance running programs.
There’s a series of runs that Mountaineers have been doing for decades: Brooklyn, Mulberry, Newtown and the infamous Pickle Hill routes, which were all laid out under coach 

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...