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RE: Why was distance running so popular in the 70s (or 80s)? Was it more popular than football?
In a slightly earlier era, the US vs USSR meets did an enormous amount to make track something paid attention to. Outside of running boards like this, if people remember Gerry Lindgren at all, it's for what he did against the USSR.
I don't think that the ITA can be judged a success by any real standard, except that it DID bring big names to places like Pocatello, where they would not otherwise have gone. But people have competing for extremely small amounts of money, and the scheduling was crowded, and it wasn't very long before we started seeing miles won in 4:07.
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