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.