Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Friday, August 28, 2020

V10 N. 65 Pressure's on When Dad's a Legend by Bob Lutz

Mike Solomon (K.U. Jayhawker) sent this to me this week.  Source is the Wichita Eagle May 28, 2010.  It tells three different examples of being the son of a famous runner played out.  All the famous guys were U. of Kansas milers who you all know, Ryun, San Romani, and Cunningham.
Trivia question.  Who was the first Jayhawk to break 4 minutes in the mile?   See at end of story.


San Romani

Ned Ryun

Archie San Romani Jr

runLawrence newsletter: Second Wind, spring 2006
Glenn Cunningham Jr.

Pressure's on when dad's a legend


If you want to see what you're made of, try walking in the footsteps of greatness. 
Better yet, try running in them.
Jim Ryun, Glenn Cunningham and Archie San Romani Sr. are three of America's greatest distance runners, all produced right here in Kansas.
Ryun, from Wichita East, was a three-time Olympian and multi-world record holder. He ran a 3-minute, 58.3-second mile as a high school senior in the 1965 state high school track and field meet, a ridiculous accomplishment that, 46 years later, hasn't been matched.
Cunningham, an Elkhart native who nearly lost his legs after being badly burned in a schoolhouse fire when he was 7, later used those scarred legs to set the world record in the mile (4:06.8) in 1934 and was the 1933 winner of the Sullivan Award, given annually to the country's top amateur athlete.
And San Romani, from Frontenac, was an AAU and NCAA champion in the mile who finished fourth in the 1500 meters at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Like Cunningham, San Romani was badly injured as a child when his right leg was nearly crushed.
But how do you measure up if you're a son of one of the greatest distance runners in history? How do you resist the comparisons? Running is something you've been born to do, but how do you resist hating it?
Ryun (1963-65), Cunningham (1929-30) and San Romani (1932) were all winners of the mile race in the Kansas state high school track and field meet.
So were their sons: Ned Ryun (Lawrence, 1991); Glenn Cunningham Jr. (Leon, 1966) and Archie San Romani Jr. (Wichita East, 1957-59).
They are legacies unlike any other in the soon-to-be 100-year history of the state track and field meet, three magical last names in the annals of Kansas sports history.
Whether they acknowledged it or not, there will built in pressure in being the sons of such prolific fathers. Fortunately, it wasn't overwhelming, at least it wasn't for Ned Ryun and Glenn Cunningham Jr.
Neither was close to being as accomplished as their fathers. But they ran, free in their minds that comparisons to their famous fathers, while inevitable, wouldn't swallow up their own accomplishments or identity.
The Ryuns
"It was kind of funny because my dad really didn't want us to run,'' said Ned Ryun, 37, who had a twin brother and two sisters who, of course, were runners. "It wasn't because he didn't want us to be competitive. We played soccer, baseball — all of those things. But we really didn't pick up running seriously until we were around 15 or 16. Our dad just didn't want to have that pressure on us.''
That's because Jim Ryun knew what that kind of pressure could conceivably do. It could turn off his kids toward running, make them apprehensive about being named Ryun and trying to compete in a sport their father conquered.
"Something Ann (his wife) and I tried to do from the very beginning was to help our kids establish their own identities and not mine,'' said Jim Ryun, a Kansas second district representative in Congress from 1995-2006. "God gives each one of us different talents.''
Ryun's children were born in California, where he and his wife moved after his college track career at Kansas in part to protect his kids from his notoriety. In Santa Barbara, the Ryuns lived a subdued life. He was famous everywhere, but the children were better shielded from the spotlight.
"He never wanted to live through us,'' said Ned Ryun, who lives with his family in northern Virginia. "He was always there for us, always supportive. But, boy, he really wanted to be hands off because he didn't want us to feel that pressure. It was a delicate balance.''
Jim Ryun has lived as quiet a life as a former world-class athlete and Congressman can. Ned recalls walking in the halls of the Congress with his father and being approached by people who asked him about being the son of a man who had been the greatest in his sport of choice.
Ned was unaffected because hid dad was.
"A more humble guy you would not meet,'' Ned said of his father.
The San Romanis
Archie San Romani Jr., on the other hand, struggled to find a balance with his father, a man who struggled to let things be.
Archie Sr., who died in 1994 at the age of 82, was a strong rival to Cunningham and their battles often crossed state lines. They came from opposite corners of Kansas, but crossed paths in a mile race 28 times, according to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Each won 14.
The San Romanis moved from Frontenac to Wichita before San Romani Jr. entered high school. While at East, he never lost a mile race. A month after graduating, he ran the fastest mile for a high school athlete, 4:08.9, in Compton, Calif.
Yet it's fair to question how satisfying his accomplishments were because of an overzealous father who, unlike Jim Ryun, couldn't keep his hands off.
San Romani Sr. and East coach Bob Timmons, San Romani Jr.'s coach at East who later would coach Ryun, often butted heads over San Romani Jr.'s, development, which caused friction between father and son.
"It's difficult to be the son of.. '' San Romani Jr., said without finishing his thought. "I never really tagged along with my dad when he was running and I was a kid. But I know he got pretty involved in what I was doing. I think my dad — and I'm not sure how to phrase this — but I think he was trying to re-live parts of his life through me. And that became a deterrent, almost.''
Fortunately, the younger San Romani had Timmons, a my-way-or-the-highway type who was not afraid to confront the father.
"Timmons was an old Marine and I remember one time he asked my dad, 'Who's coaching this kid, you or me?' '' San Romani Jr. said. "That was while I was still in high school, of course, and apparently they had more than one visit.''
But the pressure didn't lessen for San Romani Jr., who after high school enrolled at KU, then quickly transferred to Wichita State. But living at home wasn't the answer and pressure built for him to move away, to go somewhere that would put distance between him and dear ol' dad.
"I told my mother, 'I've just got to do this on my own,' '' San Romani Jr., said. "I couldn't deal with the constant pressure. I just had to go make my own footprint. So I bought a one-way ticket and went to Oregon.''
It was a bold move for such a young man, but Oregon is where he prospered, running on a world-record mile relay team, finishing second in the NCAA mile and twice competing in the Olympic Trials.
San Romani Jr., 69, has been in Oregon ever since his move, living in Eugene, where he worked in pharmaceutical sales and taught scuba and flying. He and his wife, Janie, who have four children, have also taught ski patrol classes for years.
All of San Romani Jr.'s children became competitive downhill skiers, just dabbling in track and field. He didn't push them, he said, because he was cognizant of what his own father's pushing took away from his experience.
It was a strain on their relationship, but the two became closer as they got older.
"I think I was very fortunate to have a dad like I did,'' San Romani Jr., said. "A man who finally was able to back away.''
The Cunninghams
Glenn Cunningham and his wife, Ruth, had 10 children. They later opened a facility to help care for disadvantaged and neglected children, influencing close to 10,000 kids. And they always raised horses.
So Cunningham didn't really have an abundance of time to become over-involved in his children's endeavors.
"I was always aware that it was going to be all right with my dad whether I ran or didn't run,'' said Cunningham Jr., 62, who works in a Wal-Mart pharmacy in Poteau, Okla. "That doesn't mean my dad didn't push me in many things. I learned a work ethic from him at a very early age. He was a strict dad and a disciplinarian.''
Being the oldest son in the family, and named for his dad, Glenn Jr., embraced the legacy his father established. He wanted to run and he wanted to be successful.
"I really did want to excel, but I never felt that kind of pressure from my father that I needed to get out there and emulate or equal what he accomplished,'' Glenn Jr. said.
That would have been impossible, anyway. Glenn Cunningham was the state's first distance-running star, setting the stage for those who would follow like Billy Mills, Wes Santee, Bill Tidwell and, of course, Ryun. Cunningham was so good he carried three nicknames: The Kansas Flyer, The Elkhart Express and The Iron Horse of Kansas.
His story was compelling on so many levels, beginning with the nearly-decapitating injury he suffered in the schoolhouse fire, in which one of his brothers was killed.
Cunningham was larger than his running, larger than life, really.
"And I felt lots of encouragement from him,'' Cunningham Jr., said. "After I won the state mile in 1966 for Leon, I was invited to the Golden West meet in California. I knew I was invited as much due that my father was Glenn Cunningham as for the fact that I was running the mile.''
Cunningham Jr. ran a 4:22.1 to win the Class B mile for Leon. Every other runner invited to the Golden West meet had run 4:10 or better. He feared he would be swallowed up by the competition.
Knowing that, Glenn Cunningham took three weeks to help his son train for the California meet. They would go on daily 10-mile runs, during which Cunningham would drive his car while Glenn Jr. ran along on Butler County dirt roads.
"He really worked with me, really tried to sharpen me,'' Cunningham Jr. said. "And I dropped my mile time to 4:13.8 and placed fifth in the Golden West mile. I was so pumped up for that race that I ran a 56-second first quarter, three seconds better than my previous best time.''
As a kid, Cunningham Jr. was constantly asked what he was going to do to try and be a better runner than his dad. Perplexed, he often just nodded his head because he didn't know what to say.
Deep down, though, he knew it would be impossible to surprise his father's accomplishments. That didn't keep him from running — for fun and to compete.
"I grew up on a ranch where we did a lot of physical labor and a lot of running,'' Cunningham Jr. said. "I remember being out on a back pasture, maybe a mile or so from the house, and deciding I was going to run back and dad was going to run with me. I was maybe 10 or 11. We were going stride for stride and I remember thinking my dad was probably waiting for me to drop out. But I was determined I wasn't going to drop out. I ran all the way back.''
It was fun for Cunningham Jr. to be his father's son.
"I never felt intimidated or pressured by him,'' he said. "I never felt that my dad expected me to be in a race or to accomplish a particular thing. He was tremendously proud of what I was able to accomplish, even though it was far less than what he did.''

Answer:  Bill Dotson.   Unfortunately for Dotson, he did not break the WR for the mile, so he is all but forgotten when talking about these luminaries.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

V 10 N. 64 Former Bowling Green State U. Runner Makes it Big in the Fashion World

Hanane Sabri

Back in the mid 1990's my friend and blog colleague Steve Price was coaching at Bowling Green State University having a lot of success with the women's team.  He was noted for taking slightly above average runners and turning them into very, very good runners.  One of the few who came to BG already well established on their home turf was Hanane Sabri from France.  Steve's sister Rachel was teaching in France at the University of Strasbourg and recognized her talent and connected her with Steve.  Hanane's  family was from North Africa,  Morocco or Algeria, I can't remember.  She was Muslim, but as a second generation resident in France, she was comfortable in western running gear.  I recall that she was good enough to place high in the Mid American conference in cross country, and was on the BG team that qualified to go to the NCAA nationals in a very tough district including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Notre Dame.  She also qualified for the indoor track nationals. She was French 1500m champion in 2001.    Her future husband Medhi Baala ran for France in the Olympics and made it to the 1500 finals and placed fourth at Sydney in 2000 in 3:34.14 behind Ngeny, El Garrouj, and Lagat.

Hanane as the linked article will indicate, has gone on to a spectacular career in the clothing industry, having had a high ranking job with Adidas and now is living in Hong Kong and involved in the fashion industry with Kipling there and in China.  That's a long way from Bowling Green.

Hanane Sabri   from sportyjob   13 June 2020
by Claudia Trabalski

Sydney 2000 Men's 1500 Comments:

Richard Mach

to me
Fast company.  Mehdi was behind the three best milers in the world.  And that can still be said strictly 
on the basis of PBs two full decades later.    
ElG has the mile and 1500m WRS  And Ngeny has the second fastest mile time ever and LaGat has the 
2nd fastest 1500 m time ever.  In every other Olympics, Baala would have been on the podium .. 
everything being equal. 

George:  Yes I do remember her.  She beat the crap out of us in lots of races:)  I always 
wondered how STeve got her!!!!   Thanks, Rich

Dr. Richard J. Ceronie
Track & Field Office
Department of Athletics

editor's note,   Richard Ceronie was coaching at Miami of Ohio when Hanane was doing 
you know what to his team.

Friday, August 21, 2020

V 10 N. 63 Ben Cross, Ian Holm R.I.P. and other stories

Ian Charleson and Ben Cross

Abrahams (Cross)  Training with his Coach Sam Mussabini Played by
Ian Holm, also recently departed.

August 21, 2020

Ben Cross Obituary from The Guardian

I just saw that the actor Ben Cross, age 71, died yesterday.  Cross was noted for playing Harold Abrahams, the British sprinter who won the 100 meters at the Paris Olympics in the the film  Chariots of Fire.    Ian Charleson who played Abrahams' rival  Eric Lydell, had died in 1986.  Both men were born into working class families and joined the acting field from a young age.  Interestingly the film Chariots of Fire was as much about the class rivalries  of early 20th century England. if not more than about sport and the Olympic Games.   Ian Holm who played Abrahams' coach Sam Mussabini also recently passed away.

One of the big scenes and issues in the film was totally made up.  Eric Liddell was portrayed as refusing to run the 100 meters on Sunday shortly before the event was to occur and thus giving Abrahams an open door to win the 100 if he could beat Charley Paddock and Jackson Scholz the two Americans.  Actually it was never an issue as the meet schedule had been set a year in advance and Lydell was never really considered for the hundred.  And that sometimes is how drama is created by a film scriptwriter when writing about actual events.

My other issue with the film was that the music was over dramatic and didn't fit with running.  Did you ever try to run even long distance with that theme song in your head.  It was just too slow even for LSD prone individuals.

And for a change of subject.   

My colleague Roy Mason got off his duff recently and sent in an idea for this blog.  It must be said that Roy is a bit more concerned with the safety of his home these days during the California wildfires, and I am sure we all wish him well and that he and all in that area get through the following days in a safe manner.

Roy sent me a note saying he had just seen a fantastic youtube piece covering the top ten all time performances in track and field.  This is of course in the opinion of the producers of the piece.  However as you go through the twelve minutes it takes to show those ten incredible performances, see if you can guess what the all time number one performance will be.  The producers use a percentage improvement stat that helps understand the immensity of some of these performances.

Here then is the link: Top Ten World Record Performances  Produced by TRP
I'm sure most of you will have one that you feel was left out, but that's show bizz.

And Lastly:

A new mile record for high school sophmores ( 4:01.34) was recently set in Florida by Rheinhardt Harrison.

Below is a list of all high school sub 4 minute milers and their sophmore times.  Thanks to Bruce Kriztler and Ricky Quintana for this information.

Last thing I'll send about Rheinhardt Harrison's 4:01.34 as soph record :)
Below is the list of sub 4 milers and their times as sophomores. Thank you to Jack Shepard of Track and Field and Chris Nickinson of Runnerspace.
The first time is their time for the mile at the end of high school and the year they ran it.
1. 3:53.43(2001) Alan Webb(South Lake, Reston, VA) 4:05.51 in ‘99
2. 3:55.3(1965) Jim Ryun(East, Wichita, KS) 4:07.8n in ‘63
3. 3:57.81(2016) Drew Hunter(Loudon Valley, Purcellville, VA) 4:09.49n in ‘14
4. 3:59.30(2017) Reed Brown(Carroll, Southlake, TX) 4:27.23i in 2015/4:16.33 1600m outdoor in ‘15
5. 3:59.38(2015) Matthew Maton(Summit, Bend, OR) 4:09.64 in ‘13
5. 3:59.38(2015) Grant Fisher(Grand Blanc, MI) 4:11.27 in ‘13
7. 3:59.4(1966)   Tim Danielson(Chula Vista, CA) soph time not found
8. 3:59.53(2016) Michael Slagowski (Rocky Mountain, Meridian, ID) 4:18.55 in ‘14
9. 3:59.54(2020) Leo Daschbach(Highland, Gilbert, AZ) 4:18.02 in ‘18
10. 3:59.71(2011)Lukas Verzbicas(Sandburg, Orland Park, IL) 4:04.38 in ‘10
11. 3:59.8(1967) Marty Liquori(Essex Catholic, Newark, NJ) 4:17 in '65

Jack Shepard of track and field news writes "We count records until August 31 and then start all over again.  Never too late for a record, though of course a finite limit on class records."

Saturday, August 15, 2020

V 10 N. 62Covid 19 and Spanish Flu 1918, a Comparison

This article comes from a long time sportswriter Tom Archdeacon from the Dayton Daily News, my hometown in Ohio.  It is a compendium of facts about the 1918 Spanish Flu which killed over 600,000 Americans   (195,000 in one month) and 50 million world wide and how that epidemic affected the sports world in those times.  Even Babe Ruth contracted the disease but survived.  Some did not.  Hockey's Stanley Cup was cancelled just before the final game in 1919 after the death of one of the Montreal Canadiens.

Archdeacon grew up in rural Ohio, Mercer County.  Got his start in Florida but came back to Ohio almost 40 years ago and has been a fixture in Dayton ever since.  He's covered everything in the sportsworld.  It it the human interest, the back story that fills most of his columns, but this on the 1918-19 pandemic is more of a general facts type of story.  I knew of some of these events, but this story has brought those and many other stories together.  Not a single thing is mentioned about our sport of track and field, but this is still an important read.

Some History We Don't Want to Repeat by Tom Archdeacon    Clik Here

     Just got around to reading this today. Wow! Brought back memories. Not of the Spanish flu; I'm not that ancient.😀 But Tom Archdeacon's byline brought back memories of when he worked for the old Miami News and I wrote a column on Running, twice a month, for the paper's Thursday People/Sports section. I never worked at the paper's office; I just ran my copy down (often did so, literally). But somehow I got to know Tom fairly well. And always loved his long form pieces. The Miami News was the city's evening newspaper so the Herald had already reported the overnight sports results. 
    Did you know Tom? My recollection is that at one point Sports Illustrated tried to hire him, I think to cover baseball, but he didn't want to be constantly on the road. Probably the first time SI ever got turned down by a young sportswriter. And, unfortunately, the Miami News, like virtually every other evening newspaper, expired a few years later. I knew Tom had gone to Ohio, but I don't recall if I knew that, by doing so, he was going home. Happy for him. 
Geoff Pietsch

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...