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This Day in Track & Field

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01/27/2009 - 07:07

From Walt Murphy's News and Results Service / Updated regularly.

This Day in Track & Field: January 27

1925 Paavo Nurmi wowed the crowd of 10,000 at Madison Square Garden by beating American favorite (and Hall-of-Famer) Joie Ray and setting a World Record of 3:03.4/5s in the 3/4-mile run. Joie Ray:

1962 Marine Corporal John Uelses vaulted 15-10 1/4 in Washington, DC, to become the first man to set a world indoor record using a fiberglass pole.
On the same day, on the other side of the world, New Zealand’s Peter Snell, running in his home country on a grass track in Wanganui, set a world outdoor record in the mile, running 3:54.4 to break Herb Elliott’s previous mark by .1s. It was the start of a 2-week record binge in which Snell would also set new marks in the outdoor 800m/880y(Feb.2) and the indoor 1000-yards (Feb. 10).

1972 Two records were set at the Oregon Inv. in Portland. Steve Prefontaine won the 2-mile in 8:24.6 to break Frank Shorter’s previous American mark of 8:26.2, and Al Feuerbach improved his own world record in the shot put to 69-5 3/4(21.175m?).

1978Fairleigh Dickinson’s Franklin Jacobs, all 5’-8”(1.73m) of him, cleared an amazing 7-7 1/4(2.32m), 23-1/4” above his head, at the Millrose Games to set a World Record in the high jump. Among his victims were the two previous record holders, Canadian Greg Joy and Dwight Stones. Two other world indoor marks fell at the meet, with Houston McTear setting a new standard in the 60-yard dash (6.11), and Maryland freshman Renaldo Nehemiah got his first global mark in the 60-yard hurdles (7.07).
Here’s how Dwight Stones remembers that meet. “As I recall that night at the Garden in 1978 I remember that I was on my way to a Superstars competition down in the Bahamas, so my coach, Harry Sneider, was with me. I believe I was error-free through 7' 5"(2.26m) and was beating Franklin on misses. Because I rarely got the opportunity to win at Millrose (I was 13-1 in 1975 and lost to Mel Embree at Millrose) I was anxious to have this pest out of my hair. I encouraged him to go to the world record because I really thought myself capable of it more than anything else and this ploy was successfully played out many times I might add (1976 NCAA meet vs. Mike Winsor, 1984 Millrose vs. Jimmy Howard). I had a couple of very good jumps at the height but was amazed at how good Franklin's attempts were as well. He didn't appear to be intimidated by the fact that he was jumping at the world record. He happened to be jumping after me in the order and when I missed my third attempt there wasn't any part of me that thought he would clear it. When he skimmed over on his final jump I was so pissed because I had lost the meet, lost the American Record, and I was certain he would get the athlete of the meet trophy, which of course he did.”
Jacobs 20 Years Later:
1984 With his three-year winning streak on the line, Carl Lewis was trailing Larry Myricks (27-6/8.38m) as he prepared for his final effort in the long jump at the Millrose Games. With sister Carol, who had finished 5th in the 60y-hurdles earlier in the meet, using her feet to keep in place a loose board at the head of the runway, “King” Carl added another line to his already impressive resume by reaching out to an amazing 28-10 1/4(8.79m). The jump broke Lewis’s previous World Indoor Record of 28-1(8.56m) and broke the heart of Myricks, who had the misfortune of having his career coincide with that of Lewis’s. The mark matched Lewis’s outdoor best and, at the time, had been surpassed only by Bob Beamon’s 29-2 1/2(8.90m) at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.Lewis was so close to the takeoff board that some observers felt he had fouled, but chief judge Stan Dawkins said, “It was a perfect board...he used every bit the law allows”.

1996 Haile Gebrselassie set a World Record of 13:10.98 for 5000-meters in Sindelfingen, Germany.

2002 David Krummenacker earned a $25,000 bonus for setting an American Record of 2:17.86 at the Boston Indoor Games at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury,MA.
2007--The plan all along was to go for the World Record in the women’s 5000 at the Reebok Boston meet at the Reggie Lewis Center, and Ethiopia’s Tirunesh DIbaba, the “baby-faced destroyer”, delivered, running 14:27.42 to break her own mark of 14:32.93, which was set on the same track in 2005. Later in the meet, fellow Ethiopian Meseret Defar, who was “under-the-weather”, made a run at the 3000 World Record of 8:29.15, but fell just short with her winning time of 8:30.31. The big news in the event was provided by Massachusetts native Shalane Flanagan. With her mom, photographer Cheryl Treworgy, taking pictures throughout the race, Flanagan stayed on Defar’s heels until losing contact with less than a lap to go, but still finished well and crossed the line in the new American Record time of 8:33.25. Flanagan bio:; Treworgy, a former world record holder in the women's marathon, talks about women's distance running in the 1960s. Treworgy's photo site:;
Competing at Penn State, Hampton University frosh Francena McCorory set the current Collegiate Record of 1:09.16 for 500-meters.


This Day in Track & Field: January 26

1973 Vaulting in NY’s Madison Square Garden at the Millrose Games, which had already been the setting for the first 15’ (Dutch Warmerdam-15-3/8/1942) and 16’ (John Uelses-16-1/4/ 1962) indoor vaults in history, Steve Smith became the first man to jump 18’ undercover by clearing 18-1/4.

1974 Steve Prefontaine ran 8:22.2 in Portland to break his own year-old American Record of 8:24.6.

1980 Mary Decker-Slaney sets an outdoor World Record in the mile--4:21.68--in Auckland, New Zealand.

1990 Tony Dees set the American Record of 10.28 in the rarely contested(indoors) 100-meters in Johnson CIty, Tennessee. Finishing 5th was John Myles-Mills of George Mason, who established the still-standing Collegiate Record of 10.50.

1991 Villanova’s Sonia Sullivan ran 15:17.28 for 5000-meters to set World and Collegiate Records at the Terrier Classic at Boston University. The previous mark of 15:22.64 was set by Lynn Jennings the previous year.

2008 Running in front of a large and enthusiastic contingent of her fellow Ethiopians at the Reebob Boston Indoor Games, Meseret Defar set a “World Record” of 9:10.50 for the rarely-contested 2-miles. Not far behind was New Zealand’s Kim Smith, who ran 9:13.94, the 2nd fastest time in history. Defar’s teammate, Tirunesh Dibaba, won the women’s 3000 in 8:33.37, and Australia’s Craig Mottram set a U.S. All-Comers Record of 7:34.50 in the men’s 3000.


This Day in Track & Field: January 25

1956 Australia’s Dave Stephens, running in the stadium that would be the site of the Melbourne Olympics later in the year, won the 6-mile in 27:54.0 to break Emil Zatopek’s previous world record of 27:59.2.

1969 1968 Olympic gold medalist (800m) Ralph Doubell set a World Record of 1:47.9 for 880-yards in Albuquerque.

1974 North Carolina’s Tony Waldrop made long-time Millrose director Fred Schmertz very happy by running 3:59.7 to become the first man to break 4-minutes in the fabled Wanamaker Mile. Ethiopia’s Miruts Yifter, who would go on to win the 5000-10,000 double at the 1980 Olympics, ran his first race ever on a banked-board track and won the 2-mile race in 8:28.0.

1985 It was another memorable Millrose Games, one witnessed by 18,328 fans at Madison Square Garden. Ireland’s Eamonn Coghlan won his 6th Wanamaker Mile to tie Glenn Cunningham as the event’s biggest winner. Coghlan, always a Garden favorite, ran 3:53.82 to beat Ray Flynn (3:54.70), John Walker(3:55.14), and Sydney Maree (3:55.15). Coghlan’s choice as the winner of the meet’s coveted Outstanding Performer Award (Waterford Crystal) had as much to with timing as with his performance. More than an hour after the final running event was completed, Jimmy Howard cleared 7-8(2.34m) in the high jump (before 300 hardy fans) to break the previous American Record of 7-7 3/4(2.33m), set by Jeff Woodard in 1981. Howard’s record actually took place on the 26th, since the event didn’t end until after midnight!. Another American Record fell in the women’s 400, as Diane Dixon ran down 1984 double Olympic gold medalist Valerie Brisco to win in 53.07. Other highlights included Mary Slaney’s win in the women’s mile (4:22.01), and Carl Lewis’s win in the men’s long jump 27-10 3/4(8.50m).

1986 For the 10th time in his career, Billy Olson raised the indoor world record in the pole vault, jumping 19-3 3/4(5.89m) in Albuquerque. At the same meet, Jim Howard, his teammate on the Pacific Coast Club, raised his own American Record to 7-8 3/4(2.36m).

Heike Drechsler set a World Record of 23-11(7.29m) in the long jump in Berlin


This Day in Track & Field: January 24

1925 Paavo Nurmi was beaten for the first time on his U.S. tour, but he still set two more World Records. Running in a handicap 2000-yard race at the Brooklyn College A.A. meet at the Thirteenth Regiment Armory, Nurmi finished a step behind countryman Gunner Nilson, who had a 100-yard head-start, but still got credit for new marks at 1-1/8 miles (4:58.0) and 2000y(5:00.8). However, Nurmi also lost two records, as Willie Ritola won the 5000-meters in 14:39.4 to better Nurmi’s 18-day old mark of 14:44.6. Ritola also beat Nurmi’s record for 2-3/4 miles with his en-route time of 13:01.0 and improved his own mark for 3-miles (14:11.6). Another world mark was set by a Georgetown lineup of Ed Brooks, Jack Holden, Willie Sullivan, and George Marsters, which won the 2-mile relay in 7:47.4. Fordham’s John Gibson, who would later set a world record in the 440y-hurdles and would become the coach at Seton Hall(1945-1972), won the 1-4/-mile in 52.8. From the NY Times Archives.

1969 Ron Clarke, Australia’s prolific record-breaker, picked up the indoor 3-mile best when he ran 13:12.6 in Oakland, California.

1970 Australia’s Ralph Doubell, the 1968 Olympic gold medalist at 800-meters, set a World Record of 2:05.5 for 1000-yards on Albuquerque’s fast, 10-lap board track. The previous mark of 2:06.0 was set in 1962 by New Zealand’s Peter Snell. It was the 2nd year in a row that Doubell set a record on this track, javing set a new standard of 1:47.9 for 880-yards in 1969. FInishing 2nd to Doubell was Kansas State’s Ken Swenson, who set an American Record of 2:07.7. A step behind Swenson was Tom Von Ruden, the previous record holder.

1976 Clifton Perry (Menchville,Va) ran 1:10.0 at the Navy Invitational to set the still-standing high school record for 600-yards. Since the event is rarely contested these days, Perry’s mark might last forever.

1998 Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie, competing on what would become one of his favorite tracks, ran 7:26.15 for 3000-meters in Karlsruhe, Germany, to break his own World Record of 7:30.72, which was set in Stuttgart in 1996. Four of the six sub-7:30 times in history were run by Geb on the Karlsruhe track.
7:24.90 Daniel Komen Kenya Budapest 1998
7:26.15 Haile Gebrselassie Ethiopia Karlsruhe 1998
7:26.80 Gebrselassie Karslruhe 1999
7:27.93 Komen Stuttgart 1998
7:28.29 Gebrselassie Karlsuhe 2003
7:29.34 Gebrselassie Karlsruhe 2004
2004--Past and future stars were present at NY’s Armory for the New Balance Games, which featured a great duel between high schoolers Galen Rupp and Josh McDougal in a special 2-mile. Here’s what I wrote in Eastern Track at the time:
“With more than a dozen Hall of Famers (ncluding Armory veterans Al Oerter, John Carlos, Larry James, and Bob Beamon) on hand for the official opening of the National T&F Hall of Fame, and potential future candidates running on the track, it was a great day to be a track fan in NY.
After the HOF ceremonies were completed, the “elite” portion of the meet took center stage, beginning with the H.S. Girls mile.
With Saratoga Springs teammate Nicole Blood warming up for the “Elite” Women’s Mile, Lindsey Ferguson set the pace through the first 3/4 (71.1, 2:27.2, 3:41.7), with most of the field staying close.
On the last lap, Laura Cummings and Heather Iatauro waged a great battle, with Iatauro just getting the nod at the finish (4:53.79-4:53.82).

Next up was the “Elite” Women’s Mile, which was won for the 2nd year in a row by Great Britain’s Hayley Tullett, who ran 4:27.28, the fastest time in the world so far this year. Running her own race in the back of the pack was Saratoga soph Nicole Blood, who went rthough splits of 68.5, 2:19.1, and 3:34.2 before finishing up in 4:48.82, a personal best and the fastest girls’ prep time of the year.

Then came the NY Road Runners Club “Record Challenge” 2-mile. There had been some pre-meet talk on the internet about Oregon’s Galen Rupp going after Gerry Lindgren’s legendary 40-year old H.S. Record of 8:40.0, but expectations had been lowered (but not by much) as racetime approached.

Adding spice to the mix was the late addition of Josh McDougal, the home-schooled prep from Peru,NY. Rupp and McDougal had finished 2nd and 4th, respectively, at December’s Foot Locker X-Country Championships, and each had already run a quick mile this season (Rupp-4:10.95, McDougal-4:13.79).
Kenyan Patrick Nthiwa, the eventual winner(8:39.50), was by himself in the latter stages of the race, but all eyes were on the “race-within-a-race”.

With marathon legends (and Hall of Famers) Alberto Salazar (Rupp’s coach) and Frank Shorter cheering them on from trackside, Rupp led McDougal by a step or two through most of the race (64.7.2:10.8, 3:16.6, 4:23.4, 5:29.4, 6:36.3) before McDougal went ahead with a 1/4-mile to go(7:44.9).
McDougal pulled away from his West Coast rival in the final two laps and finished with a time of 8:50.40, easily breaking Brian Dalpiaz’s 1-year old Armory and NY State Record of 9:01.92. His time was also faster than John Gregorek’s NY outdoor record of 8:50.7(1978). Rupp finished well in 8:54.45.

McDougal outdueled Rupp in a memorable battle at the 2007 NCAA X-Country Championships, with Rupp winning that title last December

Finishing 2nd in the race was Julius Achon, who was the 1996 and 1997 NCAA Indoor Mile champion while at George Mason.

8:40.0 Gerry Lindgren (Rogers, WA) 1964
8:42.7 Jeff Nelson (Burbank, CA) 1979
8:45.19 Alan Webb (South Lakes, VA) 2001
8:46.0 Lindgren 1964
8:49.1 Mark Dani (Valhalla, CA) 1986
8:49.58 Luke Puskedra Judge Memorial,Utah 2008
8:49.60 Franklyn Sanchez (Lynn Tech, MA) 1999
8:50.29 Andy Powell Oliver Ames, MA) 1999
8:50.4+ Dathan Ritzenhein (Rockford, MI) 2001
8:50.40 Josh McDougal (Home-School, Peru,NY) 2004
8:50.79 Colby Lowe Carroll, TX) 2008
8:50.9 Dave Merrick (Lincoln-Way, IL) 1971
8:52.4 Thom Hunt (Henry, CA) 1976
8:53.6 Alan Scharsu (Fitch, OH) 1978
8:53.6 Bobby Beck (Salmen, LA) 1979
8:54.0 Don Moses (Crescenta, CA) 1976
8:54.45 Galen Rupp (Central Catholic, OR) 2004
(+-converted from 3200-meters)

And then there was the H.S. boys mile, one of the best high school races this “old-timer” has ever seen. Hakon DeVries, who had run 4:14.36 on this track two weeks earlier at the Hispanic Games, had said that he wanted to run 4:10 and was willing to set the pace himself if necessary.

True to his word, DeVries gapped the field with quick splits of 59.8 and 2:04.9. But the rest of the pack was now closing in on DeVries, and Steve Hallinan and Jeremy Zagorski took over the lead right before the 3/4-mile split(3:10.8). It looked like DeVries was going to be swallowed up by the chasing pack, but he hung in there and maintained his position near the front.
Despite the fast pace, there were still at least 9 runners in contention with a lap to go. With the crowd on its feet, and Hall of Famers looking on, they roared down the backstretch, with the outcome very much in doubt.

Zagorski looked like a winner heading into the homestretch, but the never-say-die DeVries went by him, only to be passed himself by Gavin Coombs right at the finish. The final “official” times for the top two (4:11.35-4:11.38) don’t reflect how close they actually were at the line.

There have been faster H.S. races at the top(see list below), but never has there been an indoor H.S. race that saw so many athletes run so fast. (six sub-4:13, eight sub-4:16, eleven sub-4:20). As far as I can tell, the 6th-11th placers ran the fastest times ever for those positions.”

1.John Trauttman (Monroe-Woodbury,NY) 4:07.61
2.Reuben Reina (Jay,TX) 4:07.69
3.Eric Mastilir (Jesuit,CA) 4:08.06
4.Mark Dani (Valhalla,CA) 4:10.31
5.Mark Mastilir (Jesuit,CA) 4:11.41
6.? Robinson (Canada) 4:18.51
7.? Sanchez (TX) 4:19.72

1.Gavin Coombs (Griswold,CT) 4:11.35
2.Hakon Devries (John Jay-E.Fishkill,NY) 4:11.38
3.Jeremy Zagorski (Parsippany Hills,NJ) 4:11.87
4.Kevin Tschirhart (Northport,NY) 4:12.69
5.Steve Hallinan (Cardinal O'Hara,Pa) 4:12.72
6.Andre Silva (Middle Country,NY) 4:12.86
7.Chris McCabe (Fordham Prep,NY) 4:14.86
8.Ari Zamir (Ridgewood,NJ) 4:15.73
9.Will Melfochic (CBA Lincroft,NJ) 4:17.53
10.Eric Giddings (South Portland,ME) 4:17.74
11.Carmen Cavella (Washington TWP,NJ) 4:19.74

1.Jonathon Riley (Brookline,MA) 4:07.12
2.Ryan Travis (Sumner,LA) 4:08.19
3.Andy Powell (Oliver Ames,MA) 4:09.82
4.Jesse Bacigalupi (Annandale,VA) 4:10.87
5.Dan McKay (Hatboro-Horsham,PA) 4:16.17
6.Jose Zayas (Washington,NYC) 4:16.26


This Day in Track & Field: January 22

1982 Mary Decker, embarking on yet another comeback, won the mile at the Sunkist Inv. in Los Angeles in 4:24.6 to smash Francie Larrieu’s 7-year old world record of 4:28.5. Larrieu finished 2nd here in 4:36.4. Another world record fell to Stanley Floyd, who won the 50-yard dash in 5.22. Other significant marks: Carl Lewis won the long jump (27-1 3/4), Ray Flynn(3:57.1) edged surprising Frank Assumma(3:57.3) to win the men’s mile (with former USATF CEO Craig Masback finishing 4th(4:01.7), and Evelyn Ashford won the women’s 60y in 6.78..
1983--Two national H.S. records were set at the first Yale Invitation. Three of the best middle- distance runners in NY prep history hooked up in the boys 1000-meters. Miles Irish, a senior at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake H.S.), opened up a quick 6-yard lead on Mike Stahr (Carmel) in the first 200(25.9) and still had a 4-yard edge at the 400 split(55.5), with Charlie Marsala (New Dorp) moving ahead of Stahr into 2nd. Irish kept pouring it on, passing 600m in 1:25.7 and 800m in 1:55+. Stahr was back in 2nd place with a lap to go, but still trailed by about 12 yards as Irish passed 1000-yards in 2:11.1.

The race seemed to be over, but Stahr never gave up and his furious kick left him just short of catching Irish as both broke the previous National Record of 2:26.32 (2:24.1-2:24.2). Marsala was also under the old mark with his 3rd-place time of 2:25.9.

The second record was set by Ridgewood (NJ), which ran 11:56.5 in the girls “metric” distance medley.Irish, Stahr, and Marsala are still among the top-10 performers on the all-time prep 1000m list.
2:23.68 Alan Webb (South Lakes, Va) 2001
2:23.85 George Kersh (Pearl, MS) 1987
2:24.1 Miles Irish (Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, NY) 1983
2:24.2 Mike Stahr (Carmel, NY) 1983
2:24.42 Paul Vandegrift (Arch.Kennedy, Pa) 1987
2:25.14 Said Ahmed (Boston English, Ma) 2001
2:25.9 Charles Marsala (New Dorp, NY) 1983
2:26.1 Jonathon Riley (Brookline, Ma) 1997
2:26.11 Axel Mostrag (Fork Union, Va) 2007
2:26.17 Victor Gras (Belmont, Ma) 2004

1989 Russia’s Rodion Gataullin becomes the first man to clear 6-meters(19-8 1/4) indoors in the pole vault (St.Petersburg)


This Day in Track & Field: January 21

1925 After taking a well deserved three-day rest after his three races in three days odyssey in New York and Chicago, Paavo Nurmi resumed his U.S. tour at the St.Joseph’s A.C. meet at the 113th Infantry Regiment Armory in Newark, New Jersey. Competing from scratch in a handicap race, Nurmi got his 9th and 10th World Records by setting new standards for 2-1/4(10:42.0) and 2-3/4(13:03.0) miles, but his en-route time of 11:54.4 fell short of the 2-1/2 mile standard of 11:53.4. Aother Finnish great, Hannes Kolehmainen, the 1912 Olympic Champion at 5000 and 10,000 meters, had set records at all three distances in one race in 1913.

1977 Fans at the Philadelphia Classic saw plenty of stars in action, including Dwight Stones, winner of the high jump(7-5 1/4), 2-mile winner Frank Shorter(8:40.2), Eamonn Coghlan, who beat fellow Villanova alum Marty Liquori in the mile(4:03.4-4:04.2), and Francie Larrieu(Smith), who ran a modest 2:48.0 to beat Jan Merrill(2:49.7) and 16-year old Lynn Jennings(2:51.3) in the 1000m. But the meet is more notable for the fact that it was the first major invitational to utilize fully-automatic timing in the sprint/hurdles races.

Arkansa’s Niall O’Shaughnessy ran 2:05.5 in Columbia, Missouri, to break Mike Boit’s Collegiate Record (2:06.0) in the 1000y.

1978 Past, current, and future international NCAA stars (their eventual NCAA wins would add up to a total of 28!) hooked up in an epic 2-mile duel at the Sunkist meet in Los Angeles. Going to the line were Nick Rose(Great Britain), the former Western Kentucky star who had won three NCAA titles (‘74 XC, ‘75-’76 Indoor 2-mile); Washington State sophomore Henry Rono(Kenya), who had already won three of his eventual six NCAA titles (‘76,’77,’79-XC, ‘77-Indoor 2-mile, ‘78, ‘79-Steepelchase); and Suleiman Nyambui(Tanzania), who had won two AAU Indoor 3-mile titles (he would win his 3rd straight later in the ‘78 season), but hadn’t yet started his remarkable collegiate career at UTEP, where he would win an incredible 15 NCAA titles (‘80-XC, ‘79-’82, Indoor Mile, ‘79,’80,’82-Indoor 2-mile, ‘80-’82, 5k, ‘79-’82, 10k).

Rose, impatient after a slow opening 1/4-mile, threw in a 59.2 split that left a surprised Rono some 40 yards behind the leaders. Rose kept pushing the pace, followed by Nyambui and Duncan MacDonald, the 1976 U.S. Olympian at 5,000 meters. Meanwhile, Rono gradually moved up to join those three as they went through the mile in 4:09.2. Losing contact was UTEP’s James Munyala (Kenya), an eventual 4-time NCAA Champion (‘75-’77, steeplechase, ‘78-indoor mile). MacDonald would also soon drop off the pace.

Rono made a bold move into the lead with 3-1/2 laps remaining, followed by Nyambui and Rose. Veteran announcer Stan Eales had already stirred up the 12,000 fans by keeping them informed of the fast pace, and now they were on their feet as Nyambui passed Rono with a lap to go. As both maneuvered around lapped runners on that final lap, Nyambui was able to hold off Rono by the barest of margins as they ran 8:18.0 and 8:18.3, at the time the 2nd and 3rd fastest times in history (Belgium’s Emiel Puttemans set the world record of 8:13.2 in 1973). Rose hung in there to finish 3rd in 8:20.3, good for #5 on the all-time list. Rono’s time is still the Collegiate Record. (Thanks to Track & Field News for the race description).


This Day in Track & Field: January 20

2001 Running in an open mile at the New Balance Games at NY’s famed Armory, Alan Webb (South Lakes,Va, H.S.) ran 3:59.86 to become the first high school runner to break 4-minutes indoors. Webb broke Thom Hunt’s 25-year old H.S. record of 4:02.7 and became the first prep to run a sub 4-minute mile since Marty Liquori ran 3:59.8 at the 1967 U.S. Outdoor Championships. (Webb also got credit for the 1500-meter record--3:43.27).
South Lakes coach Scott Raczko, wary of too much pre-meet hype, had asked race organizer Ian Brooks to keep Webb’s entry quiet, but a few “insiders” got wind of the race and were lucky enough to be present for the historic moment.
Here is what I wrote in Eastern Track at the time:
“Don't say you weren't warned! If you weren't at the Armory yesterday, you missed seeing Alan Webb set a National High School Indoor mile record while becoming the first prep to break 4-minutes since Marty Liquori ran 3:59.8 in Jim Ryun's world record race in Bakersfield in 1967.
It was a crowded field of 14, but Webb got out beautifully and settled in behind rabbit Lorris Adams (Barbados), who did an excellent job in taking Webb (59.9, 1:59.5) through the first half-mile.
With Adams dropping out after the 1/2, Leonard Mucheru, who just arrived on Thursday from Kenya, sprinted past Webb and opened up a quick 10-15m lead. Webb didn't panic, saying, "I didn't want to get ahead of myself".
Keeping an eye on Mucheru, with an occasional glance at the running clock, Webb was able to maintain his incredibly even pace through his 3/4 split of 2:59.9. Some observers thought they saw signs of distress on Webb's face at this point, but the confident youngster, who turned 18 last Saturday, said later, "I knew I had something left". The crowd was now in a frenzy, with announcer and race coordinator Ian Brooks leading the way.
Mucheru would go on to win easily in an impressive 3:57.90, while Webb, who had been a clear 2nd for most of the last half, was now being challenged on the final turn by Matt Holthaus, Scott Anderson, and Army's Clay Schwabbe (who would get a NCAA auto-qualifier--4:00.61).
Forgetting momentarily about the clock, Webb's competitive instincts took over as he tried to hold his position down the homestretch. Showing the poise of a seasoned veteran, Webb fought gamely, holding off all but Holthaus, who moved into 2nd right before the finish line.
I had Webb in 3:59.81, but I was afraid I might have stopped my watch too soon in all the excitement. The crowd held its collective breath as first Mucheru's time of 3:57.90 appeared on the scoreboard, then the 3:59.74 for Holthaus, and finally, the magical 3:59.86 apppeared for Webb, and the celebration began.
Scott Raczko, Webb's coach at South Lakes (Reston,Va), set a personal record as he leaped high in the air after seeing Webb's time posted. Webb's 3:59.86 broke the previous record of 4:02.7, set by Thom Hunt in a similar elite race in San Diego in 1976. Webb got a second record in the race, his 3:43.27 for 1500-meters breaking Hunt's mark of 3:46.6. (Vince Cartier [Scotch Plains,NJ] still has the fastest indoor time in a high school-only race [4:06.6-1972])
Webb was gracious in his post-race interview, giving credit to pace-setter Adams and Mucheru, who finished 4th in the short course (4,000m) race at last year's World X-Country Championships.
Raczko, who felt that the media hype surrounding Webb's previous attempt at running a sub-4 last spring was overwhelming, had asked Ian Brooks not to publicize Webb's entry. Brooks complied, telling only a handful of people to at least ensure that they would be present for the potentially historic race.
Even in a long pre-race conversation, Raczko was still reluctant to talk about 4-minutes, saying only that he thought Webb could run in the 4:05-4:06 range. He did give a hint of things to come when he said that Webb was hoping to go through the 1/2-mile in about 1:59.
Raczko brought his South Lakes team to the Armory for a late-December meet with the express purpose of showing Webb, who was in the middle of a break after finishing a disappointing 2nd to Dathan Ritzenhein at the Foot Locker X-Country Championships, the fast 200-meter banked Mondo track.
Webb did a workout on the track, liked what he felt, then joined with Raczko and Ian Brooks to discuss plans to run at the New Balance Games. Since there would also be a high school mile, Webb had the option of dropping out of the "Elite" race if he didn't feel he was ready to run as fast as he wanted. Since, if all went well, there would be no pre-meet publicity about any record attempt, there wouldn't be the usual disappointment and negative stories if it didn't come off.
Webb prepped for his big day by running a 1:54 split a week ago Friday, then coming back the next day to run 9:06 for 3200m (going through the first 1600 in 4:22). A strong midweek workout let him and coach Raczko know that he was ready.
There wasn't time to plan a ticker-tape parade, the traditional New York toast to heroes, but Webb and his 26 teammates, who were brought to the meet by Raczko to let them share in the big day, were treated to a post-meet dinner at Coogan's Restaurant, the favorite stopping place for coaches, officials, and others who have spent a long day at the Armory.
Co-owner Peter Walsh, who was trackside during Webb's race, gave caps and other mementos to all of the South Lakes kids, introduced Webb to other diners and arranged a lengthy photo session before the team hopped on the bus for the long ride home to Virginia. A good time was had by all.
Two of those photos are now proudly displayed on one of Coogan's walls, which are covered by, among other things, a Penn Relays plaque, a personalized Al Oerter discus, and other track memorabilia mixed in with pictures of the many politicians and celebrities who frequent the establishment. Coogan's (Broadway between 168th-169th streets) was voted the #1 neighborhood bar/restaurant in the U.S. in 2000.

1968 Bob Beamon gave a preview of things to come later in the year when he set a world indoor record of 27-1/8.26m in the long jump in Kansas City.

1979 Greg Foster didn’t have long to enjoy his status as co-World Record holder in the 60-yard hurdles. Just a day after Foster had finished in a dead-heat with rival Renaldo Nehemiah, with both getting credit for a WR of 6.95, Nehemiah took the mark to a new level, running 6.89 for the slightly longer 55-meter distance at the Olympic Inv. in New York. Foster finished a distant 2nd with a still-respectable time of 7.09. Nehemiah told Track and Field News before the meet, “You can’t have two #1s. I can’t share the record with anybody”. At the same meet Don Paige set an American Record for 1000-meters (2:20.3) and ran a 1:49.1 anchor to lead Villanova to a win in the 4x800 relay(7:30.2).

1980 President Jimmy Carter announced that the U.S. would boycott the Moscow Olympics if the Soviet Union didn't pull its troops from Afghanistan. Here are some links to related stories:

1989 Randy Barnes set the current World Record in the shot put with a toss of 74-4 1/4(22.66m) in the final round at the Sunkist Inv. in Los Angeles (Series: 70-1 1/2/21.37m, 70-3 1/2/21.42m, 69-4 3/4/21.15m, f, 70-3 3/4/21.43m, 74-4 1/4/22.66m).


This Day in Track & Field: January 19

1957 Two recent Olympic Champions had different outcomes at the Boston Knights of Columbus meet. Charlie Jenkins, who won the 400-meters in Melbourne in late 1956, beat Reggie Pearman to win the 600y for the 4th year in a row, but 800-meter gold medalist Tom Courtney was beaten in the 1000y by Arnie Sowell, who just missed a medal(4th) in the 800 in Melbourne. In other events, Fred Dwyer ran 8:52.4, the 3rd-fastest performance ever at the time, to win the 2-mile over Laszlo Tabori and Horace Ashenfelter, who held the world record of 8:50.5, and Don Bragg won the pole vault with a jump of 15-0(4.57m).

1974 15-year old Mary Decker(Slaney) set a World Record of 2:26.7 for 1000-yards at the Sunkist Inv. in Los Angeles. Francie Larrieu(Smith) was a close 2nd in 2:27.3..Dwight Stones got the first American Indoor Record of his career, jumping 7-4 1/4(2.24m) to top Rey Brown’s previous mark of 7-4(2.235m?).

1979 In a matchup of the two best hurdlers in the world, Maryland sophomore Renaldo Nehemiah and UCLA junior Greg Foster, both future Hall-of Famers, finished in a dead-heat in the 60-yard hurdles at the Philadelphia Inquirer meet as both ran 6.95 to break Nehemiah’s week-old World Record of 7.02. Tension was high after two false starts, with Nehemiah getting “left in the blocks” when the field finally got off OK. Foster led at the first hurdle, but Nehemiah drew even by the 3rd and the two matched strides the rest of the way. Their well-timed leans made it impossible for officials to separate them at the finish, resulting in the rare tie.

1996 Aleisha Lattimer (Palmer,CO) ran 6.68 for 55-meters in the altitude of Boulder,Colorado, to set the current High School and World Junior Records.

2008 Chanelle Price (Easton, Pa), now a frosh at Tennessee, set the current High School Record of 1:10.30 for 500-meters at NY’s Armory.


This Day in Track & Field: January 18

1975 Dwight Stones got his 2nd world record in as many days, clearing 7-5 1/4 at the Sunkist meet in Los Angeles (1975). At the same meet, Francie Larrieu (Smith), another Hall of Famer-to be, set a world record in the women’s 1000-meters(2:40.2). “Franno” is currently the head coach at Div.III’s Southwestern University in Georgetown,Texas, while Stones maintains his popularity as a TV broadcaster.

1985 Competing for the first time since her dramatic fall in the 3000 at the 1984 Olympics, Mary Slaney set a World Record of 5:34.52 for 2000-meters at the Sunkist meet in Los Angeles.

1985 The World Indoor Games, the precusrsor to the IAAF World Indoor Championships, took place in Bercy, on the outskirts of Paris, France. Germany’s Thomas Schonlebe set a World Record of 45.60 in the men’s 400-meters, and other winners included Diane Dixon in the women’s 400(53.35), and Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka, who outdueled France’s Thierry Vigneron to win the pole vault, 18-10 1/4 to 18-8 1/4.


This Day in Track & Field: January 17

1925 After completing a mind (and body) numbing roundtrip to Chicago, Paavo Nurmi returned to New York for the Fordham University handicap meet. Willie Ritola warmed up the overflow crowd at the 102nd Engineers Armory (the same one that’s in use today) by setting a World Indoor Record for five miles (24:21.8). Competing in the final event on the program, Nurmi, apparently putting his problems in Chicago behind him (see Jan.16), got his 8th world record of his U.S. tour (and 5th in 3 nights) by establshing a new mark of 5:33.0 for 2000-meters. (From the NY Times Archives)
1975--Dwight Stones, who already had the outdoor best, got the first of his seven world indoor records in the high jump in 1975 when he cleared 7-5 in Pocatello, Idaho, bettering the previous mark of 7-4 1/2, which was set by the legendary Valeriy Brumel. Alternating between the straddle and the flop styles at lower heights, Stones cleared the record height on his second jump.

On the same day, Steve Smith, competing on the still relatively new professional tour (ITA) in Montreal, set an unofficial world record of 18-2 1/2 in the pole vault.
1976--The 4-mile relay was not contested very often indoors and the World Record was a modest 16:34.8, set by the Unversity of Indiana in 1974. In an effort to bring some respect to the event, three loaded teams from Villanova, the NY Athletic Club, and the Philadelphia Pioneers traveled to the Dartmouth Relays in Hanover,New Hampshire, for a summit meeting.

Pete Squires, the former All-American steepler from Manhattan College, gave the NYAC a narrow lead with his 4:08.9 lead-off leg, while Wildcat junior George McKay and the Pioneers’ Julio Piazza (currently the head coach at Lafayette) both stayed close with their 4:09.0 splits. Former Rutgers star Ron Spiers (4:02.2) had extened the AC’s lead to about 30-meters late in the 2nd leg, but freshman Don Paige exploded on the final lap to give Villanova a narrow lead at the handoff, with ex-Penn star Karl Thornton(4:03.2) keeping the Pioneers close in 3rd. Paige’s 4:01.6 split prompted T&F News to comment on the future great, “a star is born?”. The lead flip-flopped again on the 3rd leg, with Tony Colon(4:04.4), Squires’ former teammate at Manhattan, moving the NYAC ahead of Villanova sophomore Mark Belger(4:05.3). Charlie Maguire, the 1973 NCAA 6-mile champion from Penn State, ran 4:09.9 as the Pioneers fell back.

As the anchor leg began, there was no question that the world record would fall, but who would win the race? The answer was Villanova, with junior Phil “Tiny” Kane running a 4:03.1 anchor to hold off the fast charging Greg Fredericks (ex-Penn State star), whose 4:00.4 split, the fastest of the race, brought the Pioneers home in 2nd. The NYAC faded to 3rd as ex-Wildcat Ken Schappert, the 1973 NCAA Indoor 1/2 mile champion, could only muster a 4:09.9 leg.

All three teams shattered the previous record, with Villanova clocking 16:19.0, the Philadelphia Pioneers 16:20.4, and the NY Athletic Club 16:24.4. A “B” team from the NYAC was close to the old mark with its 4th-place time of 16:37.8.

Villanova’s effort was all the more remarkable when you consider that coach Jumbo Elliott held out Irishman Eamonn Coghlan, the 1975 NCAA Mile Champion, to ensure that the team would be comprised of all Americans (for record purpsoes, relay teams can’t have mixed nationalities).
(From Track & Field News)

1986 It was a night of records at the Sunkist Inv. in Los Angeles. When he got to the meet, Billy Olson learned that he was no longer the World Record holder in the pole vault, as Sergey Bubka had cleared 19-3(5.87m) 2 nights earlier in Japan. Olson needed all three attempts, but finally cleared 19-3 1/2(5.88) to reclaim the record, the 9th indoor mark of his career.

Another World Record went to Baptist College’s Charlie Simpkins, who won the triple jump with a mark of 57-5. Simpkins was trailing Michael Conley(56-6/17.22m) when he reached out to his record distance on his final jump. An interested spectator at the meet was Willie Banks, the previous record-holder(57-1 1/2/17.41m). Simpkins also took down Conley’s Collegiate Record of 57-1/17.40m).

Johnny Gray got a two-fer in one race, setting American Records for 800m(1:46.1) and 880y(1:46.8). A “lesser” World Record was set in the rarely-run 50y-hurdles, with Greg Foster running 5.88 to break Renaldo Nehemiah’s old mark of 5.92.

There was no record in the mile, but the result was still significant, with Marcus O’Sullivan holding off Eamonn Coghlan (3:58.37-3:58.55) to end his fellow Irishman’s 15-meet winnign streak that dated back to 1983. (From Track & Field News)

Running on their home track in Fayetteville, Arkansas’ Roddie Haley and Doug Consiglio set World and Collegiate Records, respectively, in the 500m(1:01.18) and 1000m(2:19.64).

1987 Ohio State’s Butch Reynolds bettered Martin McGrady’s World Record for 600-yards(1:07.6) when he ran 1:06.87 at East Tennessee, but the mark couldn’t be accepted because it was achieved on an oversized track(280m). Runnerup Chip Jenkins, the son of 2-time Olympic gold medalist Charlie Jenkins, was also under McGrady’s mark with his time of 1:07.51. Those are still the two fastest times ever run for the event.

1993 Russia’s Irina Privalova set the current World Record of 35.45 for 300-meters in Moscow.


This Day in Track & Field: January 16

1925 Showing no signs of fatigue after his long train ride from New York, the amazing Paavo Nurmi lowered his day-old World Record for 1-3/4 miles to 7:55.4 at the Illinois A.C. Handicap meet at the Chicago Coliseum. Finishing a distant 2nd was Joie Ray, whose records at 1-1/4 and 1-1/2 miles survived Nurmi’s attack in this race. Nurmi might have gotten those additional records, but meet officials had changed the configuration of the track from 10-laps to the mile to 12-laps. Nurmi had planned his splits based on the original proposed layout and was so upset after the race that he threatened to cut short his U.S. your. Thankfully, he had a change of heart.

After spending only three hours in the Windy City, Nurmi hopped back on a train for another gruelling trip back to NY City to run again the following night. (From the NY Times Archives)

1982 Carl Lewis became the first man to break the 28’ barrier in the long jump indoors when he reached out to a mark of 28-1(8.56m) at the Vitalis/Olympic Inv.(Lewis held the previous World Record of 27-10 1/4/8.49m). The meet, which used to be held at NY’s Madison Square Garden, returned after a year’s hiatus and was held at the new facility at the Brendan Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands Complex in New Jersey. Another record was supplied by Billy Olson, whose winning height of18-6 1/2(5.65m) in the pole vault bettered Dan Ripley’s previous mark of 18-5 3/4(5.63). Running on the brand new, 10-laps to the mile, banked track, Alberto Salazar, despite falling on the 2nd lap, ran away from Suleiman Nyambui to win the 5000-meters, 13:23.08-13:32.23. Salazar just missed his AR of 13:22.6, which was set while finishing 2nd to Nyambui’s World Record of 13:20.4 at the 1981 Millrose Games.

1983 19-year old Jerome Carter had created a bit of a stir when he high-jumped a personal best of 7-4(2.23m?) at the Towson Relays on January 2, but he really got the sport’s attention when he cleared 7-7(2.31m) on this day at George Mason. It was cold in the Mason field house, so Carter was wearing two sweatsuits to keep warm. He kept them on as he missed his first attempt at 6-8. Angry at himself for missing such an “easy” height, he walked over to coach Alan Dean and said, “That’s it. Don’t worry about it, the world record is going to come down tonight”! Brave talk for someone who had never cleared 7-feet before the season began, but Carter would soon show that he wasn’t making an idle boast.

The 6-1, 160, Carter passed 6-10, then cleared 7-0 and 7-2 on his first jumps while still wearing the two sets of sweats! He got serious at 7-4, taking off two tops and one pair of pants and cleared the bar easily to match his PR. With the bar now at 7-7, Carter deigned to take off the second pair of pants and again cleared easily on his first attempt. Observers said at the time that Carter had at least two inches to spare when he went over the bar. “Then, Dean said, “we decided, ‘What the heck, let’s go for the record’.” Carter had to wait around for a 1/2-hour while officials searched for s steel tape to ensure a proper measurement. One was found and the bare was set at 7-8 3/4(2.36m), 1/4-inch higher than Vladimir Yashchenko’s World Record.

Carter had been jumping with great confidence up to this point, but with the bar actually set at a world record height, he admittedly tensed up and did not have a good effort in his three attempts. “He forgot to do the things he was doing at the lower heiights”, said Dean. “He knows he should have had it”. The news of Carter’s big clearance spread quickly over the track and field grapevine, and within a few days it seemed that every meet director in the country wanted him to compete in their meet.

Carter went on to have an excellent career, but he would never improve on his 7-7 indoor best. However, he did clear 7-9 1/4(2.37m) during the 1988 outdoor season, made the U.S. top-10 rankings every year from 1983-1990 (reaching a high of #2 in 1987, when he was ranked #10 in the world), and was a member of the 1987 U.S. World Championships team.

Carter’s rise to world-class level was a swift one, but it was preceded by some hard times. As a junior at Harford Vocational H.S. (coached by Dean), Carter cleared 6-8 to win the 1980 Maryland Class “C” state title. He improved to 6-10 in the spring of 1981, but then broke his right ankle. He was out of action for five weeks, then returned to action in the summer with a 6-11 win at the East Coast Inv.

The broken ankle had apparently scared off local colleges, so Dean called Art Morgan, then the head coach at New Mexico State, who said he’d love to have Carter on his team. In Carter’s first semester at NMS, and even before Morgan had a chance to see his star recruit jump, he felt some pain in his ankle while playing basketball. Doctors determined that the earlier break had never properly healed. Surgery was required and Carter’s schoolwork suffered while he tried to work his way back to full strength. He returned to Maryland before the school year was over and eventually enrolled at Harford Community College, where Dean was now the head coach, in the fall of 1982. (From Eastern Track)

1987 Greg Foster topped a great field in the 60-meter hurdles at the Sunkist Inv. in Los Angeles, running 7.36 to beat Tonie Campbell (7.54), Renaldo Nehemiah(7.59), and Roger Kingdom(7.64). Track and Field News reported at the time that Foster and the rest of the field got away with a collective flyer, and thought for sure that Foster’s time wouldn’t be accepted as a world record. But it was, and still stands as the American Record(later equalled by Allen Johnson). It was the first indoor meet for Nehemiah since being reinstated as an amateur in 1986 after his brief career in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.
Ken Lowery set the current World and American Record of 1:00.17 for 500-meters in Indianapolis.

Competing in Simmerath, Germany, Carlo Thranhardt set a World Record of 7-10 1/2(2.40m) in the high jump.
2005--Janine Davis (Queen of Peace,NJ) set the current high school record of 1:29.27 for 600-meters at NY’s Armory.


This Day in Track & Field: January 15

1925 Paavo Nurmi, The Flying Finn, returned to NY's Madison Square Garden for the 2nd stop on his U.S. tour and came away with three more world records, although they all came within one race. After letting Willie Ritola set the early pace, Nurmi, dubbed the 'Athlete of the Century' by the press, delighted the crowd by lapping most of the field and setting records at 1-3/4 miles (7:55.6), 3000-meters (8:26.8), and 1-7/8 miles (8:29.0). Joie Ray was the previous record holder at all three distances. Shortly after the race, Nurmi hopped on a train for Chicago, where he was scheduled to compete the following night before immediatley returning to NY for his 3rd meet in as many days.

1977 It didn't draw much attention at the time, but Steve Scott, a 20-year old junior at the University of California at Irvine, broke 4-minutes for the first time when he ran 3:59.7 to finish 3rd in the mile at the Sunkist Invitational. Finishing ahead of Scott were Paul Cummings (3:59.2) and Wilson Waigwa(3:59.7). Scott went on to become one of the greatest runners in U.S. history and ran a total of 136 sub-4 minute miles, the most ever, in a Hall of Fame career. He held the American Indoor Record from 1979-2005 and the Outdoor mark of from 1982-2007. Scott is currently the head coach at Cal-State San Marcos.
Hall of Fame Bio:;
Steve Scott-The Miler/Marc Bloom's Biograph:

1978 Lorna Forde (Barbados) set a World Record of 1:10.5 for 500-meters at the Dartmouth Relays.

1984 20-year old Sergey Bubka, who had first gained international fame when he upset the field to win the gold medal at the previous year’s World Championships in Helsinki, got his first world record, indoors or outdoors, when he cleared 19-3/4(5.81) in Vilnius.

1986 Bubka sets another World Record, jumping 19-3(5.87m) in Osaka, Japan

1987 -Bubka returns to Osaka to set another World Record--19-6 1/2(5.96m). Two other world marks were set--Ben Johnson ran 6.44 in the 60-meters, and Oleg Protsenko won the triple jump with a leap of 57-11 3/4(17.67m).


This Day in Track & Field: January 14- 1961 New Zealand's Murray Halberg smashed the Indoor World Record for 2-miles when he ran 8:34.3 in Portland, Oregon, in 1961. Australian Al Lawrence set the previous mark of 8:46.0 the previous year in Los Angeles.

1974 Frosh Robin Campbell (Eastern, DC) ran 1:19.3 in Toronto to set the current high school record for 600-yards.

1983 Billy Olson jumped 18-10 1/4 in Ottawa, Canada, to add 1/4s to his own World Indoor Record in the pole vault. Making a modest return to action in the same meet, after an injury-induced year-long layoff, Eamonn Coghlan won the mile in 4:04.52.


This Day in Track & Field: January 13

1973 The serious track fan will spare no expense or energy to see a good meet--or two--or three! The CYO Invitational in Maryland was the first of my trifecta of meets this weekend. I left my job on Wall Street early and rushed to the local heliport to hop on a 4pm helicopter that took me to LaGuardia Airport. Took the shuttle flight to Washington,DC, where I had arranged to have a taxi take me to College Park, Maryland, for the CYO meet. Steve Smith set an American Record of 17-8 1/2(5.40m), Rey Brown(7-1/2.16m, jump-off) beat Dwight Stones and Pat Matzdorf to win the high jump, and Great Britain¹s Ian Stewart, who overtook Steve Prefontaine to win the bronze medal in the 5000-meters at the previous year¹s Olympics in Munich, won the 2-mile(8:28.4). Stewart is now one of the world¹s leading meet directors. When that meet was over, around 11pm, I worked my way down a hill, past the lovely-smelling Agricultural Department facilities on the University of Maryland campus, to wait for the early-morning Greyhound bus back to NY City.

Bleary-eyed after the long bus ride home, I then drove to West Point to watch the mid-day annual dual meet between Army and Manhattan College (I¹m a big fan of the Jaspers). One of the highlights of that meet was watching Manhattan¹s Ken McBryde win the triple jump with a leap of 50-5(15.36mc). McBryde would finish 3rd at the NCAA Indoor Championships later in the season to help Manhattan win the team title.

Two down, one to go. Next up was a drive to the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island to watch the Knights of Columbus meet. Among the winners on the track were Hasley Crawford in the 60y(6.1), Rick Wohlhuter in the 880y(1:53.5), and Byron Dyce in the 1000y(2:10.7--Dave Wottle was 5th). However, the biggest story of the night unfolded on the infield during the playing of the National Anthem. With the war in Vietnam still going on, these were still emotional times, and many fans in the stands started booing as at least one member of the Eastern Michigan mile relay team continued their warmup while the anthem played. The booing continued for almost 30-minutes and led meet officials, citing a rule that calls for the disqualification of any athlete ³whose conduct is offensive to spectators...², to bar the entire team from competing in the relay. Eastern¹s coach, Bob Parks, told the NY Times, ³I¹m as conservative as anyone around. I stand and sing for the anthem. I think the kids should too, and I¹m going to give them hell. But why disqualify the whole team? The athlete who did it volunteered to be replaced by a substitute².

A dramatic ending to what otherwise had been an "excellent adventure" for this tired tracknut, who got a good night's sleep after the ride home to Queens!

1978 One of the fun things about track and field is that unexpected performance, one that has fans saying to each other, ³Where did that come from?². Such was the case on a snowy night in 1978 in College Park, Maryland, the site of the CYO Invitational, held on Maryland¹s 11-lap to the mile board track. Dick Buerkle, who had been a 4:28 walk-on miler at Villanova, had established himself as a formidable distance runner, ranking #4 in the world at 5000-meters in 1974 and making the 1976 U.S. Olympic team at that distance. But no one, including CYO meet director Bob Comstock, took the bald-headed Buerkle seriously as a miler heading into the 1978 season.. After talking his way into the race, Buerkle fulfilled his promise to Comstock to set a fast pace, much as he had done at the previous week¹s Muhammad Ali Inv., when he finished 3rd in the 1500-meters in 3:40.0. Running by himself, Buerkle went through splits of 57.2, 1:58.9, and 2:58.3 before finishing off in 3:54.9 (actually 3:54.93) to break Tony Waldrop¹s 4-year old world indoor record by .1s.

Buerkle was not the only record breaker at the meet. Canadian Greg Joy won a sensational high jump battle over diminutive Franklin Jacobs, clearing 7-7 to better Dwight Stones¹s previous world indoor record of 7-6 1/2. Jacobs cleared a personal best of 7-6. There were also two American Records--Mark Belger ran 1:48.1 for a new mark in the 1/2-mile (but was disappointed he didn¹t get the world record), and Joni Huntley broke her own high jump record twice, first clearing 6-3 and then 6-4.
(Thanks to Bob Hersh¹s story in the January, 1978, edition of Track and Field News ( Cover Photo:

1985 Diana Richburg ran 2:39.28 for 1000-meters in Sherbrooke, Canada, to break her own American Record of 2:40.1.

1989 Louise Ritter equalled her American Record of 6-6 (1.98m) in the high jump in Jonesboro, Atrkansas.

1996 Idaho State¹s Stacy Dragila set the first American Records of her career when she jumped 12-9 and then 12-11 3/4 on her ³home² runway in Pocatello, Idaho.

2001 Jumping at the Snake River Open in Pocatello, Dragila became the first woman to clear 15¹ indoors.

2006 38-year old Pat Manson cleared 18-1/2 at the Air Force Academy to extend his incredible streak of having cleared 18-feet to 21 years in a row!

2007 Rutgers, with a lineup of Joe Porter, Bruce Owens, Marcel Coleman, and Rob Waters, ran 1:25.05 at Penn State to break Arkansas¹ Collegiate Record of 1:25.18.


This Day in Track & Field: January 12

1957 While leafing through old issues of Track and Field News, it's always a kick to come across what was probably the first mention of an athlete who went on to achieve greatness. Such was the case in the January, 1957, issue, when Joe Galli wrote, Aussie track was lifted out of the "post-Olympic doldrums" (WM-Melbourne had just hosted the 1956 Games) by the appearance of a potential top world class miler, Herb Elliott of Perth. The 18-year old Elliott, who was being coached by the legendary Percy Cerutty, had run 4:06.0 for the mile on this day at Olympic Park to break fellow Australian Ron Clarke's unofficial World Junior record by .8s. Elliott went on to set world records in the 1500 and mile and win the gold medal in the 1500-meters at the 1960 Olympics, and is considered one of the greatest milers in history. Cerutty had predicted 2-years earlier that Elliott would become a world record holder, but the youngster's career suffered a temporary setback in a freak accident in late 1955 when a piano crushed his foot.

1977 This day marked the appearance of the first issue of my first newsletter--Eastern Track. The newsletter was started as a replacement for "The New Breed", which was put out by Pete Schuder while he was coaching at Columbia University. While The New Breed primarily covered the IC4A, the original "E.T." expanded to include coverage of all schools in the Northeast (Men & Women--Maine to Virginia), and also covered high school and open action. In that pre-internet/laptop era, results were prepared on an old-fashioned typewriter and the newsletter was run off on a mimeograph machine that Schuder had used (you youngsters can ask your parents to explain those ancient artifacts).

Among the results included in that first issue: Princeton's Craig Masback won the mile in 4:18.8 in a tri-meet with St.John's and Temple and a 1000y in 2:13.9 in a dual meet with Rutgers; In the first meet held at Fordham's Vince Lombardi Center, former Ram Marcel Phillippe won the 1000y (2:11.4) and mile (4:11.0); Former NYU star Byron Dyce won a 1/2-mile race at NY's Armory in 1:53.8; Jan Merrill bettered Mary Decker's World Record (2:26.7) in the women's 1000y by running 2:25.2 on Army's oversized track; Tim St Lawrence jumped 16-1(4.90m?) to win his 15th consecutive Metropolitan AAU Senior title in the pole vault(8 indoors, 7 outdoors); New Jersey prep Renaldo Nehemiah, a senior at Scotch Plains H.S., ran 6.9 twice in the prelims of a development meet at Princeton to tie the National H.S. Record in the 60y-hurdles (4 hurdles), then ran 7.0 in the final.
1979 --Maryland sophomore Renaldo Nehemiah ran 7.02 to break his own World Record in the 60-yard hurdles at the CYO meet in College Park,Md.

2007 Francena McCorory, a freshman at Hampton University, bettered her own American record for 300-meters(36.96) with her winning time of 36.67 at the Virginia Tech Invitational(since broken). Her time also established a World Junior Record.

2008 The host team set a Collegiate Record of 1:36.43 in the women's 4x200 at the Virginia Tech Inv. The lineup consisted of Patrice Potts, Britni Spruill, Kristi Castlin, and Queen Harrison. The previous mark of 1:36.5 (hand-time) was set by the Tennessee State Tigerbelles in 1979.


This Day in Track and Field: January 11
1957 While on a Goodwill Tour in Manila, sponsored bt the U.S. State Department, World record holder Parry O'Brien won the shot put with a toss of 62-2.
1974 Dick Buerkle was a surprisingly easy winner over Steve Prefontaine in the 2-mile at the CYO meet in College Park,Md (8:26.2-8:33.2). It was Pre's first loss to an American in a race longer than a mile since 1970..
1980 Larry Myricks jumped 27-5 3/4 at the East Tennessee State Invitational to break Bob Beamon's 12-year old World Indoor Record of 27-2 3/4. Among the first to congratulate Myricks was the legendary Ralph Boston, the former indoor and outdoor record holder in the event. Myricks told Track and Field News, "I wasn't going to come here, but then my coach told me what a good facility it was and I couldn't pass it up".


This Day in Track & Field: January 10

1975 In a nice early-season matchup of two stars, Marty Liquori overtook Steve Prefontaine with a lap to go to win the mile at the CYO Invitational in College Park,MD(3:57.7-3:58.6). Finishing 5th in 4:04.2 was Villanova junior Eamonn Coghlan. Other highlights included the women's 880y, where Cheryl Toussaint beat Francie Larrieu (2:08.0-2:09.5), and the men¹s high jump, won by Dwight Stones with a clearance of 7-3.

1976 For the 3rd time in his career, Belgium's Emiel Puttemans lowered the world record in the 5,000-meters, this time running 13:20.8 in Paris to better his previous mark of 13:24.8. His en-route time of 12:54.6 also gave him his 3rd world record at 3-miles.


This Day in Track & Field: January 9
1993 It was a record that had withstood many challenges over the years, most notably by strong teams from Mike Barnow's Westchester TC, but Villanova's 17-year old World Record in the 4-mile relay (16:19.0) finally fell at the Dartmouth Relays, with the N.Y. Athletic Club setting a new mark of 16:16.67. The NYAC had been frustrated in recent attempts to break the mark, but coach Paul Mascali was determined that the record would fall this year. His plan was to put two strong teams on the track to push each other during the first two critical legs, but minor ailments eliminated Charles Marsala and the great Eamonn Coghlan (who was 40 at the time), who were to run on the "B" team, as well as Rich Kenah, who was slated to run on the "A" team.

After some scrambling to find suitable replacements, the A.C. got the reasonably good start it wanted, with "A" runners Brad Horton (4:07.2) and Jeff Smith (4:07.3) being pushed by Mike O'Connor (4:07.3) and Rick Wemple (4:07.4). It looked for awhile like the record might survive for another year, but Brad Schlapak took off after the first half of the 3rd leg, and his 4:02.8 split put the club back in the hunt. That left it up to ex-Princeton star Bill Burke, who responded to the challenge by anchoring the record-setters with a 3:59.4 carry.

1994 Bert Nelson, who co-founded Track and Field News with his brother Cordner in 1948, died after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. Nelson was inducted into USATF's Hall of Fame in 1991 (His brother was inducted in 1988)


This Day in Track & Field: January 7
1978 With the meet's namesake cheering from the sidelines, the Muhammad Ali Invitational, held on the spacious 200-meter banked oval in Long Beach, California, produced three world records. Houston McTear might have caught a quick gun, but his 6.54 was accepted as the new standard for 60-meters. The Soviet Union’s Valerie Borzov(Ukraine) and Germany's Manfred Kokot had shared the previous mark of 6.58. Local favorite Mike Tully jumped 18-4 to break Dan Ripley’s 2-year old amateur pole vault record of 18-3 3/4(pro Steve Smith had already jumped 18-5), and the 3rd global mark went to Herman Frazier, who ran 1:01.3 to break Stan Vinson's 500-meter record of 1:02.3. Dick Buerkle, more accustomed to running longer distances, gave a hint of things to come (he would set a world record in the mile the following week) by setting a fast pace in the 1500-meters (56.5, 1:56.5, 2:56.6) before fading to 3rd (3:40.0) behind Kenya's Wilson Waigwa (3:38.6) and Paul Cummings, who set an American Record of 3:39.4. Villanova made the cross-country trip worthwhile as Mark Belger (1:48.7) won the 800 over Kenya's Mike Boit(1:48.9) and its 4x400 relay won with a Collegiate Record of 3:09.6. (from Track and Field News ).

1990 Competing at the Dartmouth Relays, Lynn Jennings set a Word Indoor Record of 15:22.64 for 5000-meters.


This Day in Track & Field: January 6
1925 Just 6 months after winning 4 gold medals at the 1924 Olympics in Paris (1500, 5000, two in x-country), the great Paavo Nurmi made his American debut at the Finnish-American A.C. indoor meet at New York's Madison Square Garden. The NY Times reported that 9,000 lucky fans crowded into the 8,000-seat capacity arena, with thousands more left frustrated out on the street. With the crowd in a frenzy, "The Flying Finn" didn't disappoint, overtaking Joie Ray in the final two laps to win the mile in 4:13.6, breaking Ray's 6-year old world record of 4:14.6. Ray, perhaps a bit past his prime, gave the crowd a thrill by opening a 5-yard lead on Nurmi late in the race, but he was no match for the Finn's withering finish. Ray was also under his old record, running 4:14.0 in 2nd place. Nurmi got credit for a 2nd world record for his 3:56.0 en-route time for 1500-meters.

The fans would have felt they had gotten their money's worth just to see Nurmi in the mile, but the legend came back 90-minutes later to win the 5,000-meters in 14:44.6 to take down another of Ray's world records (14:54.6). Nurmi ran away from another Finn, U.S.-trained Willie Ritola, the 1924 Olympic Champion at 10,000-meters. Nurmi missed his bid for a 4th world record when his en-route 3-mile time of 14:18.2 fell short of Ritol's mark of 14:15.8.

Nurmi wasn't the only record breaker at this memorable meet. Loren Muchison established a world record of 6.0 to win the 50-meters, then got two more records in one race, clocking 22.4 for 220-yards en-route to winning the rarely-run 250-meters (about 1-1/2 laps on the Garden's 11-lap track) in 29-flat. A 7th world record was set by Penn State's Alan Helffrich, who established a new mark of 1:05.8 for 500-meters. (From the NY Times archives)


This Day in Track & Field: December 5

1971 A year before winning the gold medal at the 1972 Olympics, Frank Shorter secured his first of four consecutive victories at the prestigious Fukuoka Marathon in Japan. Shorter was the first American to win the fact World Championship race since it was first held in 1947. His winning time of 2:12:50.4, in only his 3rd race at the distance, was a personal best.


This Day in Track & Field: December 4

1977 Less than two months after taking his 2nd NY City Marathon title, Bil Rodgers continued his hot 1977 season by winning the Fukuoka Marathon by more than a minute with a time of 2:10:55. Tom Fleming, who stayed with Rodgers through the first 9+ miles, finished 4th in 2:14:26. The 62nd edition of the race will be held this Sunday (December 7).
Fukuoka Site:;
Past Winners:


This Day in Track & Field: July 18-19

1959 Given the heat wave that's gripping much of the Northeast, it seems quite appropriate to remember this day in track and field. The setting was the 2nd U.S. vs USSR dual meet, held at Franklin Field in Philadelphia (home of the Penn Relays). The top mark of the first day was the 63-2 1/2 'world record' by Parry O'Brien in the shot put (for some unknown reason, the mark was never submitted to the IAAF), but the most memorable event was the men's 10,000-meters. The temperature was in the mid-80s, and the humidity was close to 60%--great conditions for sprinters, but not for distance runners. The race progressed without incident through the first 4-1/2 miles, with American Bob Soth splitting the Soviet duo of leader Aleksey Desyatchikov and Hubert Pyarnakivi and Max Truex, the 2nd American, trailing behind.

It was at this point that Soth began to show early signs of distress. He was able to maintain reasonable form through 5-miles, but then started that scary high-stepping gait of someone who is having serious problems with the heat. Moving backwards at times, Soth continued in this painful-to-watch manner for another three laps before collapsing on the track, his head narrowly missing the inside railing. While officials attended to Soth, the race continued, with Desyatchikov, handling the heat the best of all, going on to what seemed to be an easy win (30:29.9). But, wait! As Desyatchikov approached the finish, the gun was fired, signaling another lap to go! With about a mile to go, the lap-counter flashed '4 to go' for Desyatchikov and Soth, who was just about to begin his 'death march', and then switched to five for Truex, who had been lapped. The official, who apparently got caught up in Soth's plight, never returned the lap cards to the correct number, resulting in the confusion at the end. While Desyatchikov took his time completing his extra lap, Truex, knowing he was truly on his final go-round, put on a big finish to overtake Pyarnakivi to take 2nd. However, mindful of what was going on, 1952 Olympic steeplechase champion Horace Ashenfelter, working as an inspector, advised Truex to take another lap. Truex did so, then collapsed and joined Soth on a trip to the local hospital for treatment (neither suffered lasting after-effects). Finally, Pyranakivi, who also stopped at the right time, was awarded 2nd place over Truex, since officials assumed that he wouldn't have run an extra lap if he didn't think he had to. U.S. officials acknowledged their mistake the following day, but they let stand the original results.

There were many reasons for fans to travel to Philadelphia for this meet. There was the attraction of the American-Soviet rivalry at the height of the Cold War, plus a chance to see stars like Parry O'Brien, Ray Norton, Al Cantello, Hayes Jones, Tamara Press, Vasily Kuznetsov. Dyrol Burleson, Greg Bell, and a young Wilma Rudolph, who was just a year away from her 1960 Olympic glory in Rome. And not many people can say they saw future long-jump great Igor Ter-Ovanesyan compete in a decathlon (he finished 4th-6853).

But what got my father, my brother Pete, and me (and a handful of other relatives) to make the drive from Brooklyn was another chance to see the family hero--my cousin, Tom Murphy. This wasn't an easy decision to make, since another cousin in our family was getting married on the 19th, but she (Pat) had given us her blessing. In fact, she watched the 800-meters (which Tom won) on TV in her wedding gown before heading off to the church!

While the victory ceremony for the 800 was going on, Tom was under the stands going through his traditional post-race ritual of 'dry-heaving' and was then informed that he was needed to run a leg on the 4x400 relay, which was less than an hour away. By race-time, a torrential downpour had saturated the cinder track, but the U.S., with a lineup of Dave Mills (47.4), Murphy(47.2), Jack Yerman(46.2), and Eddie Southern(46.2), still won easily in 3:07.0.

The Murphy clan then jumped into our cars and raced back to the wedding reception in New York and arrived just in time for dessert--another race well run!


This Day in Track & Field: July 16-20

1986 The inaugural World Junior Championships were held in Athens, Greece(July 16-20), and I was fortunate to be able to make that trip. I received an excited call one day from old friend and veteran track writer Jim Dunaway, who said that if I acted quickly, I might get a free trip to Athens! It seems that the Greek National Tourist Organization(GNTO), like many others in Europe, had been stung by the dramatic drop in American tourism in 1986, caused by the fear of terrorist activity.

The GNTO, hoping to generate positive publicity surrounding the World Juniors, reached out to a handful of U.S. journalists and offered them the opportunity to cover the meet as their guests. Dunaway (who had offered my name to the GNTO) and historian Stan Saplin were among those already on board and there was one spot still available. I placed a call to the GNTO office in New York and was quite honest with them. I explained that my newsletter, Eastern Track, was far from being a mainstream publication, and was I really the type of journalist they were looking for? The representative replied that they�d be thrilled to have me, and boy, was I thrilled to be had!

Our small and giddy group, reveling in this gift from the track and field gods, flew from New York on Olympic Airways, headed for a first-time visit to the birthplace of the modern Olympics. With athletes from over 140 countries in attendance, and despite the political climate of the day, the meet went off without incident. No boycotts, no protests, just good old-fashioned competition among the youth of the world, just as the Olympics once were.

The schedule of the meet was set up so that most of the finals were held in the evening, which freed up the rest of the day for sightseeing or a dip in the rooftop pool at the Holiday Inn. You could always find the British journalists around the pool, bemoaning the fact that the impending Commonwealth Games were being torn apart by the �bloody politicians�.

One tour organized by our hosts took us to the Acropolis and Parthenon, as well as the stadium that was the site of the 1896 Olympics. But the sightseeing highlight of the trip involved a day-trip to Delphi, where I visited a stadium built in the 5th Century, B.C. It was the site of the Pythian Games,which were held to honor the Greek god Apollo. (See links below)

The meet itself was almost an afterthought, but it proved to be a worthy addition to the international calendar

Among the winners were future greats Colin Jackson, who won the 110-hurdles over British teammate Jon Ridgeon, and Cuba's Javier Sotomayor, who beat future American Record holder Hollis Conway to win the high jump. Kenya's Peter Chumba delighted the crowd by winning the 5k and 10k while running barefoot. As part of his 'warmdown' after the 5k, he did calisthenics on the infield, then did windsprints on the straightaways during his victory lap.

Texas A&M teammates Derrick Florence and Stanley Kerr gave the U.S. its only individual wins as each took turns beating the other in the 100 and 200, respectively.

Other notables on the American team included 17-year old Suzy Favor (9th in the1500), George Kersh (8th-800), Carlette Guidry (4th-200, 7th-lj), Maicel Malone (3rd-100), Curt Clausen(28th-10kw), and Shola Lynch. Lynch, the U.S. Junior Champion in the 800, was wearing an elastic wrap to protect a tender hamstring. It came loose on the first lap of her heat and she ran the rest of the race with it flapping around her ankle. A flustered Lynch could only manage a 2:14.52 in 6th place.

Members of the U.S. coaching and administrative staff included Ed Temple, the legendary coach from Tennessee State, Ron Bazil, Marshall Goss, Bob Fraley, Sue Humphrey, Louise Tricard, George Dales, Rick McGuire, and John Chaplin.

The U.S. won 3 of the 4 relays, but a seemingly unbeatable men�s lineup of Florence, Kerr, William Reed, and Mike Marsh couldn�t overcome two shaky passes and a strong team from Great Britain in the men�s 4x100 and was ultimately disqualified for an out-of-zone final exchange.

Guidry and Malone teamed with Denise Liles and Caryl Smith to win the women�s 4x100 (43.78). A lineup of Gisele Harris(53.2), Kandice Pritchett(53.2), Tasha Downing(52.2), and Janeene Vickers(51.90) set an American Junior Record of 3:30.45 to win the women�s 4x400.

The highlight of the meet, at least from an American perspective, came in the final event of the Championships--the men�s 4x400 relay.

Cuba had beaten the U.S. at the Pan-American Juniors, but the Americans had a 'secret weapon' in Athens. William Reed, who had just completed a sensational sophomore year at Central H.S. in Philadelphia(3 Nat�l Indoor records, 45.10 split at the Penn Relays), was a disappointing 6th in the 400 at the U.S. Junior Championships, but had earned a spot on the relay with a win in Romania a week earlier. (Clois Carter ran in Reed's place in the qualifying round).

Clifton Campbell(46.0), Chip Rish(45.5), and Percy Waddle(45.9) gave Reed a 20-meter lead over Cuba�s feared anchor, Roberto Hernandez, who had run 45.05 from the blocks earlier in the year. Hernandez (44.7) cut the lead in half through a quick first 200, but Reed had plenty left and his great 44.5 split gave the U.S. the win. The time of 3:01.90 established a World Junior Record that would last until the 2004 World Juniors, when a U.S. team that included current stars LaShawn Merritt and Kerron Clement ran 3:01.09.

The journey ended with a a party hosted by the IAAF for an intimate group of about 2,500 and it was the perfect way to end a perfect trip.

RELATED LINK : Pythian Games-;


This Day in Track & Field: July 16

1894 10,000 spectators braved a wet and chilly day at the Queen's Grounds at Kensington in London to watch Yale and Oxford face off in the first international collegiate meet.

1932 Jack Keller tied the world record of 14.4 in the 110-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Stanford. It was the first world record with an official wind reading (-0.2).

1985 Track and field fans often moan about the lack of great head-to-head matchups in the sport. But directors of the meet in Nice, France (sparing no expense), put together a great field for the men’s 1500-meters that resulted in one of the greatest races in history. At the top of the entry list were Great Britain's Steve Cram, who won gold in the 1500 at the 1983 World Championships and silver at the 1984 Olympics, and Morocco's multi-talented Said Aouita, the1984 Olympic Champion at 5,000-meters. The pace-setters did an excellent job, taking the field through splits of 54.4 (Cram led the pack at 55.5), 1:53.7(Cram-1:53.8), and 2:36.5 with a lap to go. Cram was right behind at the bell, followed by Spain’s Jose Luis Gonzalez, Aouita, and Steve Scott. Knowing that he was close to Steve Ovett's world record pace, Cram took off and quickly opened a 6-meter lead on the chase pack. Aouita, who would later complain that he had trouble getting past Gonzalez on the 3rd lap, was also flying down the backstretch, but still trailed by some 4-meters as they came off the final turn. Aouita closed the gap with every stride, but his desparate lean at the finish fell just short of catching Cram. The times were reflective of this great foot-race. Both men broke Ovett's world record(3:30.77 and both became the first men to break 3:30 (3:29.67-3:29.71). Gonzalez was just over the old record with his 3rd-place time of 3:30.92), while 4th-placer Scott improved his American Record to 3:31.76. (From T&F News). Great photo of the finish: T&F News Cover(September)-

1988 The late Florence Griffith Joyner had already established herself as an athlete to remember, soley on the basis of her fashionable, often one-legged, uniforms. But she took a step up to legendary status by running wild at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianpolis. In the first round of the 100, she ran a wind-aided 10.60, the fastest time in history. The quarter-finals were some 2-1/2 hours later and Flo-Jo won the first one in an unbelievable 10.49 to smash Eveyln Ashford's World Record of 10.76. Even more unbelievable to many statisticians was the wind-reading--0.0!!! This, despite the fact that the men's triple jump, held concurrently on a paralell runway, had many wind-readings above the 2.0mps limit. Even though the mark is still recognized as the official world record, many “experts” choose to place the mark in the wind-aided category. Even if the 10.49 was actually windy, Flo-Jo would still have the world record, since she ran 10.61 in the Trials final the next day(7-17), beating Ashford by a full .2s(10.81).

Jackie Joyner Kersee, Flo-Jo's sister-in-law (she married Al Joyner in 1987) and former teammate at UCLA, finished off a great 2-days in the heptathlon (7-15/16) by breaking her own world record(7158) with her score of 7,215 points, which is still the #2-total in history. (She raised the WR to 7291 at the Seoul Olympics).

In the men's 100, Carl Lewis rode a strong tailwind (5.2) to win in 9.78, the fastest time in history at the time. The men's triple jump produced great marks and high drama. All of the jumps were wind-aided, but they were still impressive as Willie Banks approached 60-feet with his winning mark of 59-8 1/2 (he also jumped 59-3). The battle for the other two Olympic berths was fierce, with Charlie Simpkins (who moved from 7th to 2nd with his final jump of 58-10) and Robert Cannon (57-10 1/4) earning tickets to Seoul over Mike Conley(57-9 3/4), 1984 Olympic champ Al Joyner(57-8 1/4), Kenny Harrison(57-7 1/2), and Ray Kimble(57-6 1/4). The drama came on Conley's final jump. Known for his clutch performances, Conley appeared to have jumped long enough to make the team, but officials ruled that his baggy shorts had touched the sand a few inches back, his official 57-7 leaving him a few inches shy. Conley appealed to U.S. officials but to no avail. When Conley was inducted into the T&F Hall of Fame in 2004, he good-naturedly donated those shorts as a memento of his career.

RELATED LINKS : Photos, report on Flo-Jo's death: ;
My Flo-Jo, by Al Joyner: ;
T&F News cover(Flo-Jo):
Hall of Fame Bios:
Mike Conley- ;
Flo-Jo- ;
JJK- ;
Carl Lewis-


This Day in Track & Field: June 16

1909 Jim Thorpe makes his pro baseball pitching debut for the Rocky Mount Railroaders of the Class D Eastern Carolina League with 4-2 win. It was later learend that Thorpe earned $15-$25 per week during his 2-year stint with the team, leading Olympic officials to strip him of his amateur standing and the gold medals he won in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Games in Sweden. (The medals were eventually returned).

1979 Senior Michael Carter (Jefferson-Dallas,TX) already owned the National H.S. Record in the shot put, having thrown 77-0(23.47m) earlier in the season (almost five feet farther than the 2nd-best prep in history), but no one was prepared for what he did at the Golden West Invitational in Sacramento. With a win in the discus already under his belt (201-2/61.32m?), Carter opened with a solid 75-1(22.88m?), followed by a ³modest² 67-7 1/2(20.61m). He improved to 75-4 1/4(22.96m?) on his 3rd toss, fouled on his 4th, and approached his own record with a 5th round put of 76-4 1/4.(23.27) Stepping into the ring for his final effort with the 12-pound implement, Carter unleashed his monster throw, reaching out to an incredible, ³Beamonesque², 81-3 1/2(24.77m?), a mark that may last for many generations, if not forever. Carter also won the 16-pound event with a toss of 62-11(19.17m?), and raised the National Record in that event to an equally ³untouchable² 67-9(20.65) in post-season competition. Carter won four indoor and three outdoor NCAA titles while at SMU, won the silver medal at the 1984 Olympics, and was an All-Pro nose tackle on a San Francisco 49er¹s football team that won three Super Bowls. His daughter Michelle won the shot put at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships .
Overshadowed by Carter¹s exploits were a pair of matchups between two future sprint stars. Calvin Smith (Sumner-Clinton,MS) beat Stanley Floyd (Dougherty-Albany,GA) in the 100-yard dash (9.71-9.81) and the two finished in a dead-heat in the 220y(21.65). Smith won two World Championship titles in the 200 and set a World Record in the 100-meters, while Floyd won two NCAA titles in the 100 and was the #1 ranked sprinter in the world during the Olympic boycott year of 1980.

1985 Willie Banks set a World Record of 58-11(17.97m) in the second round on his way to winning the triple jump at the U.S. Championships in Indianapolis. It was one of the greatest competitions in history, as Banks was followed by Arkansas¹ Mike Conley, who set a Collegiate Record of 58-1 1/4(17.71m), Charles Simpkins (57-5 3/4/17.52m), and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Al Joyner(57-3 1/2/17.46m). Banks became the first American to offcially hold the world record in the event and the first American to have the best jump ever since James Connolly jumped 49-1/4(14.94m) in 1896. Conley, who won both horizontal jumps at the NCAA Championships, had earlier won the long jump with a wind-aided mark of 28-0(8.53m).
Banks interrupted his post-record celebration to shout encouragement to his then-girlfriend Louise Romo, who was on her way to a 2nd-place finish in the women¹s 800-meters. The winner of that race was Oregon¹s Claudette Groenendaal, who set a Collegiate Record of 1:59.48. Another Collegiate Record fell to Wissconsin¹s Cathy Branta, who won the women¹s 3000-meters with a time of 8:49.64. (From Track & Field News )


This Day in Track & Field: June 14

1958 It was 50 years ago that Villanova's Ron Delany, the 1956 Olympic 1500-meter champion, closed out his brilliant collegiate career by winning the mile and 880y at the NCAA Championships in Berkeley, CA. Up first was the mile, with Don Bowden, the American Record holder, setting a fast pace in an attempt to blunt Delany's feared kick. Delany, mindful that he still had the 1/2-mile coming up, was content to stay near the rear of the chase pack. Bowden couldn't maintain his quick tempo, allowing Delany to gradually move up and the Irishman went on to win his 3rd title in a row(1500 in 1956). Bowden faded to 4th, while Oregons Jim Grelle, a future American Record holder and the 1959 NCAA champion, finished 2nd to Delany for the 2nd year in a row. Delany was at his exciting best in the 880y, coming from more than a second back with a 1/2-lap to go to easily pass Manhattans Tom Murphy to finish off his memorable double win. Delanys winning times of 4:03.5 and 1:48.6 made it the fastest 1-day double in history.

Delany wasn't the only 1956 Olympic star in action. Ohio State's Glenn Davis, who won the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles in Melbourne, won the 440y out of lane 8 in 45.7 to break his own World Record by .1s. Kansas senior Al Oerter, who won the first of his four Olympic gold medals in Melbourne, won the discus for the 2nd year in a row, but had to share the title with USCs Rink Babka, with both throwing 186-2 (no tie-breaker in effect at the time). Babka and Oerter went on to become lifelong friends.

1952 Great Britain's Jim Peters set a World Record of 2:20:42.2 to win the West London AAA marathon title.

1991The U.S. Championships returned to Downing Stadium on NYs Randalls Island after a long hiatus and local fans were treated to a World Record of 9.90 by Leroy Burrell in the mens 100-meters. Finishing 2nd was Burrells training partner, Carl Lewis(9.93), the previous record holder at 9.92


This Day in Track & Field: May 22

1976 It was a significant year, not only for America's Bicentennial, but also for the IC4A(Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America), which was celebrating its 100th anniversary at Philadelphia's Franklin Field, the home of the Penn Relays. The highlight of the meet was the 800-meters, with Northeastern's Mark Lech, the current head coach at Maine, taking the field through the first 400-meters in a quick 51.7. Bucknell's Tom McLean used his patented kick to take over the lead on the final turn and went on to win with a personal best and world-leading time of 1:45.3. He was followed closely by Villanova sophomore Mark Belger(1:46.0), and Seton Hall's Orlando Greene(1:46.2), with Catholic's Mark Robinson(1:47.0), Adelphi's Bill Dabney(1:47.1), and Boston College's Bill Martin(1:47.8) also recording fast times. Four of those six also made the final at the following month's NCAA Championships, with McLean winning the national title, Belger finishing 3rd, Greene 4th, and Martin 6th. Villanova's Eamonn Coghlan was a double winner at the meet, taking the 1500 over Princeton's Craig Masback(3:40.6-3:42.3), and the 5000 over Providence's Ray Treacy, now the long-time coach at his alma mater(14:03.0-14:03.8).

On the other side of the country, marathon legends Frank Shorter(2:11.51) and Bill Rodgers(2:11.58) finished 1-2 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, and were joined on the team by 3rd-placer Don Kardong (2:12:54).


This Day in Track & Field: May 21

1954 This might have been the only time that a field event World Record was set in the 7th round! Using NCAA rules in effect at the time, which allowed for 4 preliminary throws and three more in the final, USC's Parry O'Brien threw 60-5 3/4(18.43m) on his last effort at the Coliseum Relays in L.A. to break his own 2-week old Record (60-5 1/4/18.42m).


This Day in Track & Field: May 19

1956 Duke's Dave Sime ran 9.3 at the Carolinas AAU meet in Raleigh to equal the World Record for the 100-yard dash. The record for the metric version of the 100 was also equalled on this day when Hall-of-Famer Bobby Morrow ran 10.2 at the South USA meet in Houston. 114

1990 Houston's Leroy Burrell runs a sensational, but very wind-aided, 19.61 to beat Baylor's Michael Johnson (19.91w) in the 200 at the Southwest Conference Championships in College Station, Texas.


This Day in Track & Field: May 18

1957 A couple of legends-to-be led Kansas to its 6th straight Big-7 title.Sophomore Wilt Chamberlain won the high jump with a clearance of 6-5, while teammate Al Oerter won the shot put(53-6 1/2) and discus(179-10).

1962 A big day at the Coliseum Relays for two of the sport's greats. Al Oerter, with two of his four Olympic gold medals already under his belt, got his long-awaited first (of four) world records and broke the 200-foot barrier with his winning throw of 200'-5 1/2". Jay Silvester, who held the previous record of 199-2, finished 2nd(198-2). Oerter didn't have much time to enjoy his new-found status as Soviet Vladimir Trusenyov threw 202-3 less than a month later. Dallas Long, who had won the bronze medal at the 1960 Olympics (and would win the gold in 1964), won the shot put with a toss of 65-10 1/2 to regain the world record from Bill Nieder(65-9 3/4). Both Oerter and Long are members of the U.S. T&F Hall of Fame: Oerter: 124; Long: FIDs=99

Somewhat overshadowed by the two records was a classic matchup in the men's mile. New Zealand's Peter Snell, who had already established himself as the world's best 1/2-miler (1960 Olympic gold, world record earlier in the year), moved into new territory when he established a world record of 3:54.4 in the mile in January. Facing him would be the man he feared most in this "new" event for him--Dyrol Burleson, the American Record holder (3:57.6) and the world's #1-ranked miler in 1961.

Snell and "Burly" were content to follow Cary Weisiger through the 3/4-mile split (3:02.1), and the race came down to a sprint over the last 220-yards. Burleson was clocked in 26-seconds for his final 1/2-lap, which would have beaten most mortals, but Snell was quickly becoming a "god" in the sport, and his masterful 24.5 brought him across the line first in 3:56.1, an American All-Comers Record, while Burleson just missed his AR with his runnerup time of 3:57.9.


This Day in Track & Field: May 17

1975 Jim Ryun's mile World Record of 3:51.1 had stood since 1967(he set the previous record of 3:51.3 in 1966), but Tanzania's Filbert Bayi, using the same front-running tactics that he used to break Ryun's 1500 record in 1974, ran away from Marty Liquori (3:52.2-PR) and Eamonn Coghlan (3:53.3-European Record) on the last lap and finished in the record time of 3:51.0 in front of 37,000 fans at Jamaica's jam-packed National Stadium.

News of the great fields being assembled for the International Freedom Games made its way back to New York, and Bob Hersh, Peter Diamond, and myself, all hardcore fans with a collective attitude of "have stopwatch, will travel", decided that we had to go to Kingston for the meet. We all had press credentials and were able to stand trackside throughout the whole evening, soaking up the great carnival atmosphere in the stadium. Picture Franklin Field during a U.S.-Jamaica battle at the Penn Relays, but this time everyone in the stands is from Jamaica.

Many of the fans were just as interested in the sprints as they were in the mile(maybe more so), but local hero Don (DQ) Quarrie, who would win the gold medal in the 200 and the silver in the 100 at the 1976 Olympics, was beaten in the 100 by Americans Steve Williams (10.0) and Florida prep Houston McTear(10.1=H.S. Record), and again in the 200 by Williams (19.9-20.2), who had the greatest 1-day sprint double in history

. Freshman Mark Belger, part of a large Villanova contingent at the meet, had a breakthrough race, winning the 800 by a hair over Byron Dyce (1:47.1 for both), but the highlight of the meet was, of course, the mile.

Bayi looked like he would run away from the mile field as he led by 15-yards through the first 1/4-mile in 56.9, as Villanova assistant coach Jack Pyrah shouted splits to Coghlan (59.1) and Liquori(59.2). The lead was still about 10-yards as Bayi went through the 1/2-mile in 1:56.6. Liquori and Coghlan, the former and current Villanova Wildcats (both coached by the legendary Jumbo Elliott), caught up to Bayi halfway through the 3rd lap, but, as he revealed later, it was part of Bayi's strategy, hoping that his two main rivals would tire themselves while trying to stay close.

Bayi held a slight lead as he led through the 3/4-mile split in 2:55.3, but he quickly opened a gap on Coghlan and Liquori, and now the race was against the clock. Bayi crossed the line in first, with Liquori moving ahead of Coghlan in the final stretch. Everyone knew Bayi was close, but we all had to wait for the official announcement. The late Foggy Burrowes, one of the sport's great showmen, began announcing the results, starting with 3rd place (Coghlan-3:53.3) and reminding the crowd, "The world record is 3:51.1". He then gave 2nd place (Liquori-3:52.2), and again reminded the crowd of the world record. And then he gave Bayi's time, "3 minutes, 51 point..." and then hesitated before finishing off with "zero" as the crowd erupted in a deafening roar.

Finishing behind the top three was a fast-closing Rick Wohlhuter, who ran 3:53.8, the exact time he had picked for himself in the pre-race pool, and he was followed by Tony Waldrop (3:57.7) and Reggie McAfee (3:59.5).

Bayi's effort gained more stature over the years, since it was the last time that a world record was set in the mile without the assistance of a pace-setter! But while Ryun had been the record holder for nine years (1966-1975), Bayi's reign ended less than three months later when New Zealand's John Walker broke the 3:50 barrier with his 3:49.4 in Goteborg, Sweden.

A footnote--As I returned home to NY, an ever-suspicious U.S. Customs agent asked at the airport, "So let me get this straight--you went to Jamaica for the weekend just to watch a track meet?". With visions of a strip-search for "contraband" dancing in my head, I convinced him that, yes, "I am a certified 'track-nut', prone to doing crazy things to see a good meet and he waved me on through!


This Day in Track & Field: May 16

1931 It took 15 years for him to get official recognition, but South Africa's Danie Joubert finally got credit for the World Record-tying 9.4 he ran for 100-yards on this day in Grahamstown, SA. Halfway around the globe, another World Record was tied on the same day when Ben Eastman ran 47.4 for 440-yards at Stanford. Ted Meredith ran the first 47.4 at the 1916 IC4A Championships. Related link:

1971 In one of the most highly anticipated races in history, future Hall of Famers Jim Ryun and Marty Liquori, who were teammates on the 1968 Olympic team, met in the "Dream Mile" at the Martin Luther King International Freedom Games at Philadelphia's Franklin Field. My brother Pete and I (and a few friends) had planned to drive from NY to watch the meet, but we awoke to a rainy and cool morning. There was some debate on whether to go or not, but we agreed that we had to--thank goodness we did! To set the stage, Ryun had dominated the mile in the mid-60s, setting world records of 3:51.3 and 3:51.1, but had retired after the 1969 season, one in which he was beaten by Liquori at the NCAA Championships and then dropped out at the AAU Championships, which was won by Liquori. In the meantime, Liquori had established himself as one of the best milers in the world(ranked #1 in 1969). Ryun had announced his return to the sport earlier in the year, and the interest in a rematch of America's two best milers grew with each passing week. And then there was the social aspect, with Ryun, the All-American boy from the Midwest, going against Liquori, the "tough" guy from New Jersey. Liquori, who had starred at Franklin Field as a member of Villanova's powerhouse teams at the Penn Relays, was even booed by some of what were supposed to be his "hometown" fans, who were rooting for "good guy" Ryun.

Both runners and some observers tried to downplay the importance of the early-season matchup, but fans and newspapers across the country would have none of that. Theories on the best race plans for each runner abounded--most centered on how Liquori could blunt Ryun's awesome kick.

Too often, events like this fail to live up to the hype, but this one exceeded all expectations and will go down as one of the great races of all time. 20,000+ fans who had braved the raw conditions stirred with excitement as the race began. There was no rabbit, and the field of 11 was taken through a modest first 1/4-mile by Manhattan College freshman Joe Savage, with Liquori and Ryun sitting in 4th(61.1) and 6th(61.4), respectively. Savage continued to lead through the next 220, then West Virginia's Morgan Mosser took over briefly, with Ryun moving into the lead at the 1/2-mile, followed closely by Mosser and Liquori, with all 3 timed in a slowish 2:03.3. Next came Reggie McAfee and Byron Dyce at 2:03.6, Savage, Keith Colburn, Brian McElroy, Denis Fikes, Dave Wright, and Sam Bair.

The tension was building as everyone wondered when Ryun or Liquori would make a move. That question was answered quickly as Liquori, who, like Ryun, had run a sub-4 minute mile in high school, started picking up the pace with about 700-yards to go, with Ryun right on his heels. Fans wondered if Liquori was starting his kick too soon, but he would say later, "I think I started my kick too late".

The two giants went through the 3/4-mile split in 3:00.-3:00.3, meaning they covered that 3rd quarter in roughly 57-seconds. Everyone who hadn't stood up when Liquori started his long drive were now on their feet as the two rivals went down the final backstretch together. As they entered the final turn, it looked like Ryun was poised to unleash his devastating kick, but Liqouri, as tough a competitor as the sport has ever seen, held off Ryun in a memorable stretch duel, with Liquori running a personal best of 3:54.6, with Ryun clocked at 3:54.8. A great race by two great runners!

Fans and officials swarmed the finish area to congratulate both runners, making it difficult for the trailing runners to cross the finish line. Also breaking four minutes was Dyce, the former NYU star, who was 3rd in 3:59.6. He was followed by 4.McAfee (4:00.0), 5.Colburn (4:01.1), 6.Mosser 4:02.7, 7.Savage 4:02.7, 8.Fikes (Penn) 4:03.9, 9.Bair (Pacific Coast) nt, 10.Wright (Villanova) 4:06.7, 11.McElroy 4:16.6. 1982 Polly Plumer (University-Irvine,Ca) ran 4:35.24 in the women's mile at the UCLA/Pepsi Inv. to set a high school record that still stands. At the same meet, Carl Lewis jumped 28-3 twice and the best of the West beat the best of the East in a highly anticipated men's mile, with Steve Scott (3:52.68) getting the better of former Villanova star Don Paige(3:54.19).


This Day in Track & Field: May 15

1948 Competing at the West Coast Relays in Fresno, California, Hall-of-Famer Mel Patton ( became the first man to run 9.3 for the 100-yard dash. He had been part of the group, which included Jesse Owens, that held the previous record of 9.4. In 1949, he ran 20.2 to break Owens's World Record for 220-yards on the straightaway. At the 1948 Olympics, "Pell Mell" finished a disappointing 5th in the 100-meters after getting a bad start, but came back to win gold medals in the 200 and 4x100 relay. He also won five individual NCAA sprint titles while at USC(1947-100y, 1948-100m,200m, 1949-100y,220y), and anchored the Trojans to a World Record of 1:24.4 in the 4x220y-relay at the 1949 NCs (They improved the record to 1:24.0 the following week at the Coliseum Relays). After retiring from the amateur side of the sport in 1950, he competed as a professional in Australia befor entering the business world. Time Magazine Cover--1948 Olympics(Time subscribers can read story):,16641,1101480802, ml

1965 Senior Jim Ryun (Wichita East, KS), who had become the first prep to break 4-minutes for the mile when he ran against open competition in 1964, did it again, this time against other high school runners, running 3:58.3 to win the Kansas state title. 1983 Competing early at the UCLA/Pepsi Invitational, Tom Petranoff, who was coached at the time by Bill Webb, the current head men's coach at Tennessee, caught many people at the meet off guard when he threw the (old) javelin an amazing 327-2(99.24) in the 2nd round to set a new World Record. The throw shattered the previous mark of 317-4(96.72m), which was set by Hungary's Ferenc Paragi in 1980. Petranoff, with a previous best of 297-2(90.58m?), passed in the next two rounds, but was convinced to take another throw in the 5th round (281-10/85.90m) to satisfy TV and newspaper photographers who had missed the big throw! Finishing 3rd was the late Bob Roggy(274-7/83.70m), who saw his American Record of 314-4(95.80m) obliterated by Petranoff. The 2-time U.S. Olympian(1984-1988), who made a controversial move to South Africa in 1989(see links), is still active in the sport, promoting his "Turbo-Jav" training implement. T&F News Cover(June): 3covers.html; 1997 Interview:; Masters Track story(2000): tml


This Day in Track & Field: May 12

1888 Yale's Charles Sherrill is credited with becoming the first man to use the "crouching" start in a sprint race(at least in the U.S.--see below). Sherrill won the 100y and 220y at an athletic meeting sponsored by the Rockaway Hunting Club in Cedarhurst, Long Island. In addition to winning 7 IC4A sprint titles in the late 1880s(4-100y/1887-1890, 3-220y/1888-1890), Sherrill was also the 1887 U.S. Champion in the 100-yard dash. In an era when there were fewer restricitons on eligibility, Sherrill also finished 2nd in the IC4A 100 in 1886. In 1894, he organized the first international collegiate track meet, a match between Yale and Oxford.

Sherrill went on to have a distinguished career as a lawyer, a U.S. ambassador, and a pivotal member of the International Olympic Committee.

Sherrill reportedly learned the new starting technique from famed coach Mike Murphy, who observed runnners such as New Zealand's Bobby MacDonald using the innovative style on the professional circuit in Australia and New Zealand.

1956 Two sporting legends tied for first place in the high jump at the West Coast Relays in Fresno, California. Charlie Dumas, who would become history's first 7-footer the following month at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and a young basketball player named Bill Russell both cleared 6-9 1/4. Cordner Nelson wrote of Russell in T&F News ( at the time, "...a good coach would have him clearing 7'-3" or better in a few months...if (the 6'-10") Russell wanted to make the effort". Both would win gold medals at the Melbourne Olympics later in the year, Dumas in the high jump and Russell, who had led the University of San Francisco to its 2nd straight NCAA title in March, as a key member of the winning U.S. basketball team. Russell was ranked #7 in the world in 1956 by T&F News (Dumas was #1), but gave up the opportunity for further glory in the event to pursue a career in the NBA. I guess the Hall-of-Famer made the right decision, leading the Boston Celtcis to 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons.

1962 The University of Oregon, which has produced more than 30 sub-4 minute milers over the years, used three of them here as they ran 16:08.9 (ratified as 16:09.0) in the 4-mile relay at the West Coast Relays in Fresno, California, to shatter the previous World Record of 16:23.8, which was set by a Peter Snell-anchored New Zeland team the previous year. Leading off for the Ducks was Archie San Romani, Jr., who ran 4:03.5 and would later run 3.57.6 in 1964. He was followed by Canadian Vic Reeve (4:05.4), the only one of the four who never broke four, and Keith Forman (4:02.3), who ran 3:58.3 later in the year. With Dyrol Burleson, the American Record holder in the mile (3:57.6) and 1960 Olympic finalist(6th) on the anchor, a new record was a certainty, but "Burly" raced as if every second counted and finished off Oregon's great run with an anchor split of 3:57.7. Burleson made his 2nd Olympic final in 1964, finishing 5th in Tokyo.. New Zealand regained the WR when it ran 16:02.8 in 1972, but Oregon's mark stood as the Collegiate Record for 37-years until Arkansas ran 16:07.96 at the 1999 Penn Relays(Michigan improved the record to 16:04.54 at the 2005 Penn Relays). There was another record performance on the same day on the other side of the country. Running at home in a dual meet against the Quantico Marines, Villanova's Frank Budd, who had set a World Record in the 100-yard dash(9.2) the previous year, ran 20-flat to tie Dave Sime's World Record for 220-yards on a straightaway. Budd also won the 100y in 9.3 to match Sime's fastest 1-day double.


This Day in Track & Field: May 8

1954 Future 2-time Olympic gold medalist and Hall-of Famer Parry O'Brien (USC), using his innovative "O'Brien Glide" , broke the 60-foot barrier in the shot put with his winning toss of 60-5 1/4(18.42m) in the USC-UCLA dual meet in L.A. ( =123)

1965--This proved to be a good date for barrier breaking as Texas A&M freshman Randy Matson, who had just turned 20 in March, became the first 70-footer in the shot put. Another future Hall-of-Famer(and 1968 Olympic gold medalist), Matson got his big toss of 70-7 1/4(21.52m) in the opening round at the Southwest Conference Championships on his home field in College Station, Texas. 103


This Day in Track & Field: May 6

1954 No event has had more of an impact on the sport than Roger Bannister's historic 3:59.4 mile at the Oxford University track on Iffley Road. Sweden's Gunder Hagg had held the world record of 4:01.4 since 1945 and the race to become the first man in history to break 4-minutes for the mile had been joined by three men--Bannister, Australia's John Landy, and American Wes Santee.

Bannister enlisted two friends to help set the pace in this latest attempt at making history. Training partner Chris Brasher, who would win the gold medal in the steeplechase at the 1956 Olympics, led Bannister through the first 1/4-mile in 57.4, with Bannister right behind in 57.5, and Chris Chataway, who would set his own world record at 5,000-meters later in the year(13:51.6), a close 3rd. The order stayed the same through the 1/2-mile (1:58.2), then Chataway moved into the lead with 1-1/2 laps to go, leading through the 3/4-mile split in 3:00.5. Bannister went into the lead on the final backstretch and his race against the clock and a seemingly unbreakable barrier was successful as he crossed the line in 3:59.4. Stadium announcer Norris McWhirter (who, along with his brother, Ross, started the Guiness Book of World Records), very aware of the significance of the result, said with typical British restraint, "Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the result of event number 9, the one mile: First, number 41, R.G. Bannister of the Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which, subject to ratification, will be a new English Native, British National, British All-Comers', European, British Empire, and World's record. The time is Three... " and the rest of the time was lost in the roar of the crowd. (From the IAAF's World Record Progression book).
RELATED LINKS: video of the entire race-- id_2511000/2511575.stm; SI's first "Sportsman of the Year": 54/;

BBC Remembers:;

Bannister Sculpture: m.php;; "The Four Minute Mile":;

Neal Bascomb's "The Perfect Mile": lease/bascomb/; Reviews of ESPN's movie "Four Minutes": 1979 Senior Jeff Nelson (Burbank,Ca) ran 8:36.3 at the UCLA/Pepsi Inv. to break Craig Virgin's National H.S. 2-mile Record of 8:40.9(1973). The closest anyone has come to Nelson's time since then was the 8:41.45 that Matthew Centrowitz (Broadneck,Md) ran in 2007.

1990 Scoring in six events, Meredith Rainey led Harvard to its first Heptagonal team title. Rainey was 3rd in the 100(12.32), 2nd in the 200(24.59), won the 400(51.56) and 800(2:07.54), and ran on the runnerup 4x100 and 4x400 relays.


This Day in Track & Field: May 5

1956 The University of Oregon has produced more than sub-4-minute milers during its illustrious history, and the first was Australian Jim Bailey, who ran 3:58.6 in a special race during the annual USC-UCLA dual meet at the Los Angeles Coliseum. 40,000 fans cheered as Bailey overtook world record holder (and fellow Australian) John Landy, the favorite, to win the race. 2962054_blai30.html