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OrvilleAtkins
Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 11:57AM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
With the Los Angeles Marathon going by a mile from my home on Sunday, my memory banks are even more active than usual.
The weekend in question started on the afternoon of Friday, March 3, 1962 when I left my office and cuaght the bus for Toronto's International Airport. I was to meet some of my teammates and fly with them to Chicago. They were to compete in the Chicago Daily News Indoor Track Meet that evening in the hockey arena. I was to run the first annual Chicago Windy City Marathon on Sunday morning. It was a fun trip with a lot of noise and joking around on the plane. I got the benefit of sleeping on a free cot in the track guys room and of also seeing a great track meet that evening. The arena was sold out! And Jim Beatty ran the second indoor four minute mile ever run. Beatty had been the first to run under four indoors at the LA Times Indoor Meet a couple of weeks before. Saturday morning after a 45 min run, my teammates went back home or in some cases on to Milwaukee to compete in the Milwaukee Journal Games that evening. Indoor Track Meets often sold out in those days so there was some expense money availble for the star competitors. I stayed with a friend and we went to a local College basketball game.
When I showed up at the starting line Sunday morning, I found that the course had been changed to a flat two mile stretch along the waterfront because there had been an overnight snowfall. There were 15 starters. During the first two miles I found that the road was slightly slushy in a few places with a little ice here and there. I won by 5 minutes in 2:31.16.8 with the 9th and last finisher running 3:30:15. Men seldom ran marathons in more than four hours in those days.
I am amazed when I look at some of the changes since then. In 1962, there were sold out indoor meets most weekend nights all winter. Los Angeles had two sponsored meets each winter. In 2010 there is no real indoor circuit. The sport of indoor racing is relatively dead.
There were about ten marathons in the US in 1962. No females ran marathons and few men. According to the LA Times, there were more than 470 marathons in the United States in 2009. There were 465,000 finishers with 41% being female. Very interesting!
Running certainly has changed in those 48 years. I will go out to the course and see what goes by--but I may not be able to stay more than an hour or two.
new school runner
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 12:25PM - in reply to OrvilleAtkins Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
So do you think things have changed for the better or worse?
Wayne B
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 2:48PM - in reply to OrvilleAtkins Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Orville,
When was the first time you saw a woman running a marathon?
OrvilleAtkins
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 3:00PM - in reply to new school runner Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
That's up to each of us to decide.
The great big plus was the change in attitude about female runners. Women now run!
For me there are pluses and minuses in the change. I am glad I ran when I did and and was a spectator when I was. I still spectate. I don't have the talent to run anywhere nearly as sucessfully today. In fact the running scene, espeecially in Canada, passed me by within two years of my best year. My resume looks good on paperwithout times.
But it was all great fun to watch the competitive side catch on. Over a nine year period, I held my time fairly even in Boston and yet lost 20 positions in a small field.
Running was our hobby. We felt that the word "amature" meant somthing and we usually adhered to the defintion strictly but we were forced to do so. Our goal was to be Internationalists.
For me, as a spectator it is very sad. There is no longer an Indoor Track Circuit. There are no longer the big Meets throughout the Continent each year.
The journeyman runner now is obsessed with time. We ran to win. Time was a guide, yes, but, winning was the goal. Pace setters have made a big difference. If he/she goes your pace, racing can be easier.
I still love the sport!
wineturtle
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 4:11PM - in reply to OrvilleAtkins Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
http://www.kathykusner.com/
Orville running and the word has changed in our lifetime but the sport still attracts some of the most amazing folks you can imagine. KK is one that migrated from the back of a horse to the agony of the feet. Getting to know the people in our sport like Nina Kuscsik and Marcy Schwam has been a treat. The NYRRC in the 70`s championed womans running and it was wonderful to be around those forward thinkers.
Let the racers race and the joggers jog was a common idea then and should still be. I believe roadracing needs both to survive.

5 meets in the 50St MSG when I started going to Millrose and this year I could not bring my self to go and see the watered down shell of a Millrose they put on now. That admission coming from a former Millrose official should be met with shock. I`m afraid nobody cares enough to care that someone who went to every Millrose he was physically able to get to ,either as a fan or official, since IKE was president has that feeling.
Gone are the days when a club relay team piled into a car and drove down the east cost from Canada following the indoor circuit from meet to meet. I often went to Boston DC and Philly to watch meets- now there are none to watch.
runn
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 4:37PM - in reply to wineturtle Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
The idea of the "running bum" is gone. The guys who piled in a car to race each weekend. The guys who called in sick to work to run in the Penn Relays.
Yes, we just ran and loved it. Money was not a motivating factor. I like the pro aspect, but it seems that many young people have lost that spirit of adventure to chase a dream.
Money has to be involved. I'm not criticizing young people, it seems to be the way of the world to get making money asap.
I miss the old days.
old school steve
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 4:48PM - in reply to OrvilleAtkins Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Running was certainly a lot less structured in those days, wasn't it, Orville. Wow, 1962 was about the time I discovered distance running as a HS sophomore. I finally found something I was good at! I used to love watching Jim Beatty race indoors on the old B/W TV on "Wide World of Sports". My friends thought that I was nuts to follow such a strange sport. Or I would go down to the dusty, old U of Minnesota fieldhouse and watch the U of M distance guys run those phenomenal mile/ 2 mile doubles in 4:12/ 9:10. I couldn't imagine how anyone could run that fast!! I remember running 8 miles out and back to the nearest town, and people flat out didn't believe me ( or probably wondered WHY!). I remember helping organize a marathon in the Twin Cities in the early 1970s, and we all agreed to cut off timing and results at 4 hours. The reasoning: hey, if someone can't break four hours, he shouldn't be out there. That wouldnt fly today, as I think the average time is about 4:20....and getting slower. There definitely were not the large numbers running "back in the day", but the quality was better. They were great times back then. It is nice to see so many people embrace the sport now, even though it is so watered down. I wish I could run more now and enjoy the sport as much as I used to. Running my 3-4 miles and coaching HS track and cross is my link to the past I guess!
mcgato
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 4:53PM - in reply to runn Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

runn wrote:
The idea of the "running bum" is gone.

I think the "running bum" has been replaced by the "road whore." There are a number of enclaves of Kenyan, Ethiopian, or Russian distance runners going town to town chasing the money. Somewhat different, but ... I'm not sure it's all that different.
OrvilleAtkins
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 5:08PM - in reply to Wayne B Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I miss those days too! I miss being able to compete at all. Wineturtle, I remember a winter on the way to Michigan for an indoor meet and the car breaking down. George Rhoden and Bill Crothers went on to the meet and Jim Snider and I stayed to get the car fixed. It was cold!
That is a hard question to answer Wayne. I actually do not know. Being there and seeing the woman run are not quite the same. I came to California from Tokyo in 1964. The first women to run the Culver City Marathon had been Lyn Carman (Bob Carman-7th in Boston in 2:29;06)a and Mary Leper (3:37:07) in 1963. Culver City allowed women to run since the mid1960s. I do not know if I saw the 1964 race or not but I was tenth in 1965 race
I think I remember the article in the paper in 1966 when Roberta Bignay ran Boston and I was there and raced when Ketherine entered Boston in 1977. Her picture was probably on the front page of every paper in the world.
Many of my friends were among the first. Francie Larrieu did not make the final of the first women's Olympic 1,500 and she sat on my seat with me to watch the final. Probably the most thrilling Olympic final I have seen was the 1988 10,000 meters (the first) with Francie placing 5th. Jacqueline Hansen is a friend of mine. As you know she lowered the World Best twice.
In 1984 I walked three blocks from where I now sit, stood on the side of Wilshire Boulevard and watched Joan Benoit coming up the rise towards me as she pulled away from the pack. It was a thrill to see her cruise by. I ran home and watched the rest of that Olympic Final race.
OrvilleAtkins
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 5:22PM - in reply to mcgato Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hitch hike. Another thing they can't do now. In the late 50s and early 60s I hitch hiked everywhere in Ontario with trips to Michigan, New York and elsewhere. It was great fun. Even though I lived with my Mother, I never considered my self a bum. I had a full time job! I was making $50.00 a week!
Even in the mid 60s, I was only making $425.00 a month and still did not have a car. I do not think runners today can live as we did. And the best thing about that whole time is the friends I made and am still making.
Walt Murphy
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 6:52PM - in reply to OrvilleAtkins Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Great thread for us old guys. I "ran" with Orville in a road race in Hawaii in 1964 when we were both on our way to Tokyo as part of the T&F News Olympic Tour (TAFNOT). Someone had the bright idea to jog the course before the actual race. Being a sprinter (in the most generous definition of that word), I was spent after the jog and never finished the actual race, which included local Leah Ferris, a U.S. Indoor 1/2-mile champion.

I was a timer at the first NY City Marathon in 1970 and watched Nina Kuscsik run, but not finish.

In the 1971 race, Beth Bonner (2:55:22) and Kuscsik (2:56:04) became the first women to officially run under 3-hours for the marathon.

The 1972 race(From the NYRR):
In protest of an AAU requirement that women had to start 10-minutes before the men, the six female entrants sat on the starting line for that time period, then started with the men. The "official" results showed 10-minutes added to the women's actual running time! Nina Kuscsick, who had won the Boston Marathon in April, also won here in 3:08:41.
OrvilleAtkins
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 8:44PM - in reply to Walt Murphy Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Walt, I remember enjoying the stop in Hawaii. Since it was October it already was cold and winterish in Toronto and I enjoyed the Hawaiin sun. I remember seeing you on that trip. I thought it was neat that we were watching the Olympic Opening ceremonies on TV and would be there soon. Did we watch some of that opening on an elevator or just move the television set to another floor? I am confused?
Tokyo was the Olympic trip I enjoyed the most. I consider it to have been a great Olympics. For US male runners it was! US men runners placed at least one runner in the top six in every running event for the only time.
I also spent a lot of time in the Athletes Village. We got meal tickets from Canadian Olympians trying to make weight for their events. Teammates/friends and my coach were there.
As you know Bruce Kidd, who had been my training partner since the fall of 1959, Ron Larrieu, who I met after the games and shared an apartment with for nine years thereafter and Gerry Lindgren who I met a year ago on Letsrun were all in that 10K race.
Walt, which of your Olympic Trips did you enjoy the most?
Which was the best Olympics?
Walt Murphy
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 10:21PM - in reply to OrvilleAtkins Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I believe we watched the Opening Ceremony on a TV set up in the hallway of our hotel. Mexico City was my favorite Games as a fan, but Barcelona in 1992 might have been the best overall experience. Hard to compare the ones I've seen from an athletic point of view--they were all great.
Derderian
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/18/2010 10:59PM - in reply to Walt Murphy Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
NYC Marathon 1971: I was there. I saw that.
4th place and later watched Beth Bonner finish.
Tom
runn
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/19/2010 9:26AM - in reply to mcgato Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
You're right. I think the only difference was that, back then, people like me (decent "local" runners) were also running bums.
Training in groups, hanging out after, having a few beers- just living a "running lifestyle".
Maybe it's coming back. Things to be changing for the better.
scotth
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/19/2010 9:57AM - in reply to OrvilleAtkins Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I started in Fall '67, a quick look @ what I recall:
No specialty stores
Distance Running News b4 it became RW
Cinder tracks b4 rubberized asphalt
440 yards vs 400m tracks
No varsity sports for girls
Pole vault reached 17' in mid 70s
ASICS was Tiger (shoes)
Long Distance Log
Only a determined/enlightened few ran for fitness after school years
adidas outlet in Lansing, MI served 14 states, tiny showroom
2 U of Michigan runners ran 800m in Mexico City - Ron Kutchinski & Francie Kraker
NCAA indoor T & F Champs at Cobo Arena in Detroit
Ordering shoes & apparel via mail order - Dick Pond in IL
Black Fist salute at Mexico City Olympics
No Nike yet
New Balance mostly an East coast entity
Shift in training theory that added greater % of distance running vs repetition/interval stuff
OrvilleAtkins
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/19/2010 10:33AM - in reply to scotth Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Scott,
Running had already made great strides by the Fall of 1967. The sport was starting to grow although it was still a hobby for the elite runner.
Women had run in the Boston Marathon! Even though Jock and the others said it was unofficial the women had their foot in the door. Boston still had less than 300 starters.
New Balance had tracings of my feet. I could call them from my California home when I needed new shoes. They sent me my size shoes, with the bill, through the post office.
With the Mexico City 1968 Olympics coming up, elites had retired or were learning more about altitude training for the first time.
I was beginning to shift from all interval training on grass to mainly just plain running, still partly on grass but also as I felt each day and on the roads.
Derderian
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/19/2010 12:14PM - in reply to scotth Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Let me add a couple:
1967
No digital watches
No qualifying time for the Olympic Trials marathon of 1968.
Qualifying time in 1972 was 2:30.
No joggers in races. The few slow runners were old men who used to be faster. In my first road race, a 5 miler in Coventry, RI I placed nearly last in a field of about 30 in 30:03.
No entry fee in the Boston Marathon of 1967. You had to get an A.A.U. membership for $2.
10 laps to a mile, banked indoor board tracks were the gold standard.
Tom
geoffpietsch
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/19/2010 12:27PM - in reply to scotth Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Scotts's list brings back memories. I still have 2-3 copies of Distance Running News and several of Long Distance Log (those with results from races I ran). And, speaking of LDR, Browning Ross, who compiled it, won the the first road race I ran in - a 15 mile (no one raced 5ks on the road then) in Fishkill NY in May, 1954 (I was 16 years old). At the awards afterwards, Ross had first choice from the table of prizes. He passed on a wrist watch - probably had a drawer full from track meets - and opted for a case of motor oil for his car.
Didn't run another road race until April '61 - a 4 mile handicap which started at McCombs Dam Park, across the street from Yankee Stadium. Olympian Oscar Moore was the scratch man but I figured that even though I had barely started training no one could catch me since they gave me, an unknown, a 5 minute headstart. Oscar Moore didn't (he deserved a better chance) but I barely edged another guy with the maximum headstart.
Mail order shoes: In the mid-'60s I used to buy Tigers from Jeff Johnson in Seal Beach, California in his pre-NIKE days.
Boston Marathon: Didn't run it until 1978, at age 40. Ran 2:33:55 and got 7th in the Masters - and 259th over-all (out of c.6,000). The elites today are even faster than then, but the 2:20s guys have almost disappeared.
geoffpietsch
RE: Running and Racing Sure Have Changed in 48 Years 3/19/2010 12:28PM - in reply to scotth Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Scotts's list brings back memories. I still have 2-3 copies of Distance Running News and several of Long Distance Log (those with results from races I ran). And, speaking of LDR, Browning Ross, who compiled it, won the the first road race I ran in - a 15 mile (no one raced 5ks on the road then) in Fishkill NY in May, 1954 (I was 16 years old). At the awards afterwards, Ross had first choice from the table of prizes. He passed on a wrist watch - probably had a drawer full from track meets - and opted for a case of motor oil for his car.
Didn't run another road race until April '61 - a 4 mile handicap which started at McCombs Dam Park, across the street from Yankee Stadium. Olympian Oscar Moore was the scratch man but I figured that even though I had barely started training no one could catch me since they gave me, an unknown, a 5 minute headstart. Oscar Moore didn't (he deserved a better chance) but I barely edged another guy with the maximum headstart.
Mail order shoes: In the mid-'60s I used to buy Tigers from Jeff Johnson in Seal Beach, California in his pre-NIKE days.
Boston Marathon: Didn't run it until 1978, at age 40. Ran 2:33:55 and got 7th in the Masters - and 259th over-all (out of c.6,000). The elites today are even faster than then, but the 2:20s guys have almost disappeared.
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