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29 minutes | Jul 29, 2021
84: Wally Hayward (1908-2006) – South African Legend
By Andy Milroy You can read, listen, or watch An audio podcast episode has been added to this article. Early conditioning can be very important. Wally Hayward came from a very tough background. His father, Wallace George Hayward, the son of a coal agent, had been born in Peckham in London, England in 1880, and emigrated to South Africa sometime between 1901 and 1906, in his early twenties. It looks probable he actually arrived soon after 1904 when the sand bar which had restricted Durban Harbour to bigger ships was dredged and deepened. This allowed the weekly Union Castle passenger ships from Southampton to enter the port. Bearing in mind Wallace’s later employment, and absence from Union Castle passenger lists, it is possible that he served as a barman on one of these passenger ships, departing the ship at Durban. On ultrarunninghistory.com, each article/episode takes about 30 hours of effort to research, write, script, edit, publish and publicize. Each month more there are more than 100,000 downloads of these history stories. Help is needed to continue this effort. Please consider becoming a patreon member of ultrarunning history. You can become part of the effort to preserve and document this history by signing up to contribute a few dollars each month. Visit https://ultrarunninghistory.com/member Durban, South Africa After arriving in Durban he met Cornelia Gerhardina Jacoba Kritzinger. Cornelia was the youngest of eight children of an Afrikaner farmer, Louis Kritzinger and his wife Rachel. The Kritzinger family had a 3000 acre farm in Zululand, then part of the British province of Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal). The three sons worked on the farm with their father and the women had a whole raft of household tasks to complete - baking and preserving, making and repairing clothes, sewing, knitting and cooking. The sisters took in turn to tackle each of these tasks. Cornelia Hayward Cornelia was born in 1878 but by her mid-twenties she seems to have rebelled against this demanding regime and left the farm for the city life of Durban. Perhaps the demands and deprivation of the Second Boer War had been the final straw. Cornelia got a job as a cook in a children’s home and some time in 1906/07 she met the younger Wallace Hayward. He had become a barman in a Durban hotel and the couple later lived in one of the hotel rooms. On the 10 July 1908 Wallace "Wally" Henry was born, named after his father and his grandfather, Henry Hayward. Two years later a sister Agnes was born, then two years after that a brother Horace and finally a sister Gertrude. The names chosen show a great deal about the dynamics between the couple. Basically the children were named after Wallace’s siblings. None of Cornelia’s family had a child named after them. This was in the aftermath of the Anglo-Boer War which had made such a horrendous impact on the Afrikaans. Wallace’s dominance in the naming of the children, may have been a response of a victor over the vanquished, but seems at the very least, insensitive. Johannesburg When Wally was eighteen months old, the family moved to Johannesburg. Without skills, his father found it difficult to get work, and once again wound up as a barman in a hotel. Already a heavy smoker, he began drinking heavily. The Haywards had come to Johannesburg at the prompting of one of Cornelia's sisters. The Kritzingers had been involved in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Originally from Germany, three Kritzinger brothers came to South Africa in 1820 and two of them married Dutch women. A descendant, Pieter Hendrik Kritzinger, was a Boer general and guerrilla fighter during the Second Boer War. Around 1914, when Wally was six, his father got a job working in a mine, eventually becoming a mine captain at the East Rand Propriety Mines, mining gold at Boksburg, a settlement not far from Johannesburg. Wallace Hayward In 1916 Wallace enlisted in the South African Overseas Expedi...
25 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
83: Hardy Ballington – The Forgotten Great Ultrarunner
By Andy Milroy You can read, listen, or watch The forgotten man of Ultrarunning is arguably Hardy Ballington (1912-1974), lauded in 1939 in Natal, South Africa, as “the second Newton” and a “human machine”. Dominant immediately before and after the Second World War, he was awarded the prestigious Helms Trophy for his remarkable performances In England in 1937. The authoritative Lore of Running, (2003) written by Professor Tim Noakes, advocated a training programme drawn up by Hardy Ballington and his archrival and friend Bill Cochrane. The program provided daily, weekly, and monthly training goals in terms of total distance covered; it was focused on gradual progression in training but did not specify the intensity of that training. The goal was to condition the body to run the long distances required for an ultramarathon. Ballington’s training strategy was still seen as relevant 70 years later! The Ultrarunning History Podcast is included in the People Choice podcast awards in the history category. Please help me by voting for the Ultrarunning History Podcast. During July 2021, go to https://podcastawards.com to register and nominate “Ultrarunning History” in the “History” category. Thanks! Early Family Life Hardy Robert Ballington was born on the 14 July 1912, in Durban, one of the major ports in South Africa. His father was Edward William Ballington and his mother Kate Elizabeth Sims, both born in England. He was one of five brothers and two sisters, the third eldest child, one of twins. 1881 Census record from Staffordshire showing Hardy's father, Edward Ballington as a child in his family. His mother was a sergeant's wife. His father, Edward, came from a peripatetic military family, which was not uncommon during the height of the British Empire. Born in Tynemouth in the north of England in 1870, he enlisted in the North Staffordshire regiment of the army at age fourteen but must have been discharged for some reason. By 1892, at the age of 21, he was working for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway as a shunter/switcher. Life was rough. That year he was convicted for stealing twelve table knives and two pair of carver's knives and sentenced to one month at a prison in Wakefield. A number of years later, Edward likely re-enlisted in the Army at the outbreak of the Boer War. In 1905 he was awarded the South African medal and clasp. David Ballington's birth record In South Africa he met and married an English immigrant, Kate Elizabeth Sims and in 1910 they had their first son Edward William, named after his father. Another son Basil followed in 1911, twins Hardy and Ernest Stanley followed in 1912, Jean in 1914, Doris in 1916, David in 1918 followed by John in 1920. In 1915 the whole family to that date, all four boys, travelled by ship to England, presumably to see grandparents and other relations. This was the first of Hardy’s trips to England. Edward's Death Certificate Tragedy struck the young family. In 1921 his father died prematurely in his early fifties, leaving his wife to take care of six children alone. But worse was to follow. In 1924, the 40-year-old Kate Elizabeth gave birth to her eleventh child, but complications and a heart attack caused her death. The baby died. The six living Ballington children were orphaned. The eldest, Edward, was fourteen years old. Hardy was only eleven. Six minor children initial put in the care of the Society for Protection of Child Life in Cape Town With seemingly no relatives in South Africa, caring for eight orphaned children, with the youngest only four years old, was problematic. The six minor children were initially put in the care of the Society for Protection of Child Life in Cape Town. There was a Children’s Aid Society in Durban which could provide some financial and emotional institutional support. In 1923 an Adoption Act had been passed and the Greyville Crèche was a primary school for the care of white children ...
31 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
82: Roller Skating Ultra Distances – 1885 Six Days
By Davy Crockett You can read, listen, or watch Professional ultrarunners/pedestrians of the late 1800s and early 1900s were constantly looking for endurance races or head-to-head matches to prove their abilities and make significant amounts of money. During the mid 1880s, some of them, including popular black ultrarunner Frank Hart, changed out their leather running shoes for roller skates during periods of endurance rolling skate fads. Six-day foot race in Madison Square Garden While not technically ultrarunning, the emerging six-day roller skate races mirrored significantly the six-day foot races that had become the most popular spectator sport for several years in the United States. Why not put wheels on those ultrarunning feet and see what could be done? The results were fascinating, and in 1885 the Boston Globe left behind very detailed play-by-play results that revealed what these unique races were like. How many miles could an extreme endurance athlete skate in six days on primitive rolling skates? The Ultrarunning History Podcast is included in the People Choice podcast awards in the history category. Please help me by voting for the Ultrarunning History Podcast. During July 2021, go to https://podcastawards.com to register and nominate “Ultrarunning History” in the “History” category. Thanks! Early Roller Skating Roller skating was thought to be invented as early as 1735 by John Joseph Merlin of Belgium. It was said that while showing off his new wheeled shoes at a party in London, that he crashed into a mirror. In the early 1800s roller skates were introduced in isolated cases into the theater as an alternative to ice skating performances. In 1854 a French company performed “La Prophet” in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the entire ballet of one hundred performers appeared on roller skates. 1866 advertisement In 1863, the four-wheeled roller skate, or quad skate, was invented by James Leonard Plimpton making it possible for amateurs to participate. The first public roller rink was opened in 1866 by Plimpton in New York City, who also introduced a roller skating academy. At first, he did not mass-market his patented skate and would only let them be used in rinks with maple floors. Cities including Cincinnati, Ohio and St. Louis, Missouri, opened roller rinks. The main worries were that participants would be careless about their attire and would over-exert themselves. “It is true that roller skating is an exercise which soon throws practitioners into a furious perspiration, but it is an established fact that after a person has become even moderately skilled, and does not get excited and confused, there are hardly more perspiration and fatigue induced than are found in a gentle ramble in the shade.” There was also concern that participants would “find their feet have gone off in an unexpected radiation from a common centre.” Many thought the practice was immoral. “Does it improve a young girl’s modesty or morals to fall in a heap on a skating rink floor, in the gaze of hundreds, with perhaps her feet in the air and her clothes tossed over her head? Is it good for her proper training to see other females in such plight?” The Six-Day Race On March 1, 1875, P. T. Barnum, of circus fame, put on the first formal six-day foot race in America, held at his Hippodrome in New York City. It was a $5,000 match race between Edward Payson Weston and Professor Judd. Weston reached 431 miles during that first American six-day race. Six-day cycling started three years later in 1878, in England, with a race between seven competitors held in the Agricultural Hall in London. It was won by W. Cann of Sheffield who reached 1,060 miles. Riders were only allowed to ride 18 hours each day. Into the 1880s, the roller rinks became very successful. In Buffalo, New York, there were at least ten major roller rinks. It was said “If you see a man on the street with a green bag under h...
27 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
81: The 100-miler: Part 26 – The 1978 Western States 100
By Davy Crockett You can read, listen, or watch The 1978 Western States 100 was the second year the race was held. Six years earlier, seven soldiers from Fort Riley Kansas proved that the horse trail could be conquered on foot, and they were awarded with the “First Finishers on Foot” trophy by Western States founder, Wendell Robie (1895-1984). Two years later, in 1974, Gordy Ainsleigh surprised his horse endurance peers when he ran the 89-mile Western States Trail in less than 24 hours. Three years later, in 1977, Robie decided it was time to organize a foot race on his trail. The inaugural race was hastily put together by a few volunteers who had horse endurance race experience but did not have much experience with human running races (see episode 71). The first race was mostly self-supported and fairly dangerous in very high temperatures. They were lucky that there were no serious heat-related emergencies, and only three of the 16 starters finished. Planning for the 1978 Western States 100 Run became more serious and was much better organized. The 1978 race should be considered as the first fully supported Western States Endurance Run which gave all entrants a good chance to finish. Please help support this podcast. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Some proceeds help fund this website. Visit https://ultrarunninghistory.com/mag Subscribe or renew today with this link. Gang of Four - Curt and Mo Sproul, Phil and Shannon Gardner A Western States Endurance Run Board of Governors was formally organized by race founder, Wendall Robie. The four members, affectionately called “The Gang of Four,” were all horse endurance riders, still learning what ultrarunning was all about. They were Phillip (1944-) and Shannon Gardner (1947-), and Curtis (1949-) and Marion “Mo” Sproul (1952-). Curt served as the president. Even though they still had much to learn about the running sport, they blazed ahead into history to put together a mountain ultra that many other key ultras would mimic. Joe Sloan, age 44, an experienced runner and public relations specialist from Auburn who ran in the Boston Marathon that year claimed that he was also on the new Board of Governors that year. Gardner's Western States office at the bank Because of difficulties experienced in 1977 with both runners and horses on the same trail, especially with single-track sections, the run was moved to the month before the Tevis Cup (Western States Trail Ride), on June 24, 1978. Shannon Gardner worked at Robie’s bank, Heart Federal Savings and Loan, made contacts to get the word out, and fielded calls from interested runners. Marketing Western States 100 Marketing for the Run was mostly by word-of-mouth, but in a 1978 Runner’s World magazine, an advertisement was included that read: “Western States 100-mile Endurance Run. An experience only for ultramarathon veterans. Course: rugged, uncertified over mountains, through streams, with snakes and bears. All entries must pass physical exam. No one under 18. 30-hour time limit.” The entrant's fee was $10. Mo Sproul explained, “We did try to make our publications as top-drawer as they could be, so that we presented an organized face to the outside world, even though a lot of it was being done in my kitchen or at Shannon’s desk.” The 1978 entry form warned, “Do not enter unless in excellent physical condition, have run marathon distances over 26 miles, and have had a complete physical examination, preferably including a stress electrocardiogram.” The Gordy Ainsleigh myth begins The race organizers started to prop up the legend of Gordy Ainsleigh and numerous news articles erroneously stated that he was the first to cover the course on foot. They purposely decided to make no mention of the soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas who completed the course on foot during the Tevis Cup in 1972 and were given the "First Finisher on Foot"...
24 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
80: Comrades Marathon – 100 years old
By Davy Crockett You can read, listen, or watch The Comrades Marathon (about 55 miles), held in South Africa, is the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon race that is still held today with fields that have topped 23,000 runners. The year 2021, marked the 100th anniversary of Comrades Marathon “The Ultimate Human Race.” Because the pandemic cancelled the race for the second year, the anniversary was celebrated on May 24, 2021, with a 2.2 km “1921 Tribute Run.” The field of 34 invited runners included twenty-one former winners from South Africa dating back to 1976. Also included were some runners who had completed more than forty editions of Comrades. In total thirty-four runners participated, matching the size of the field in 1921. Comrades today is one of the most paramount ultrarunning events on the international calendar. It has a rich 100-year history packed with amazing accomplishments by more than 400,000 finishers through the years. How did it start and what kept it going for a century? This episode will cover the first two years of the race in 1921 and 1922. Please help support this podcast. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Some proceeds help fund this website. Visit https://ultrarunninghistory.com/mag Subscribe or renew today with this link. Vic Clapham Vic Clapham (1886-1962) was a train engineer from Durban, South Africa and became the founder of the Comrades Marathon. He was born in London and went to South Africa with his parents when he was 13 years old in 1899 while the Anglo-Boer War was taking place between the British Empire and two Boer states who were fighting against British rule. Diamonds and gold had been discovered in those states. As a boy during the war, Clapham enrolled as an ambulance man in the Cardock Town Guard. Thousands died on both side of the conflict, especially women and children Boers. As a youth, Clapham attended Wynberg Boy’s High School, one of the best academic schools in Cape Town, and second oldest in South Africa. He would often walk about eight kilometers to school each day from his home. Usually he was given a three-penny “tickey” each day to pay for a train ride home so he could help in his father’s grocery store. Once he spent the money on sweets and instead walked back home. That resulted in a beating from his grandmother, and he never repeated that offence. He married Nellie in 1912 and they eventually had six sons. World War I broke out in 1914 when Clapham was age 28. As South Africa entered the bloody conflict, Clapham signed up with the 8th South African Infantry and was sent to German East Africa, now Tanzania. During his service he went on a 1,700-mile march in East Africa. He came down with blackwater fever, dysentery, malaria, and was close to death because of the diseases. In 1917 when he was mostly recovered, he travelled home by wagon and on a hospital ship where he was deemed medically unfit. Once home he worked for the local government railway as a fireman. The Idea for Comrades Marathon Returning British soldiers formed the “League of Comrades of the Great War” to represent the rights of veterans of the war. Clapham was interested in establishing a memorial to the suffering and deaths of his comrades during the war. Instead of creating a statue, he wanted a living memorial that would grow and embody the spirit of fortitude, endurance and bravery that typified his fallen comrades. He produced an idea to organize an event on foot from his hometown in Pietermarizburg to the coastal city of Durban, a distance of about 56 miles. Clapham was inspired by the London to Brighton walking races that were held before World War I (see episode 58) and wanted to create a similar race in South Africa. It was reported, “He felt that if infantrymen, drafted into the armed forces from sedentary jobs, could endure forced marches over great distances,
29 minutes | May 26, 2021
79: The 100-miler: Part 25 (1978-1984) Early Hawaiian 100-milers
By Davy Crockett You can read, listen, or watch In the late 1970s, Hawaii had the most runners per-capita than any other state. Some called it the “running capital of the world.” Hawaii was also an early adopter of the 100-mile race and other ultras distances races. Similar to the Fort Mead 100 in Maryland (see episode 75), Hawaii’s first 100-milers grew out of ultra-distance relays and shorter ultras. In 1976, “Primo Ultramarathon and Relays” began at Hawaii Kai on the eastern tip of Oahu, using a four-mile paved road loop. A solo 50-miler was included and by 1978 expanded into solo distances of 50K, 50-miles, 100K, and 100 miles. A massive 40-mile relay was also held each year with teams of ten runners. Running on the islands exploded. This popularity did not happen by chance. It came about because of many key individuals who devoted much of their lives to make distance running races available to the general public in Hawaii. To have an appreciation of the first 100-milers established in Hawaii, one must learn about the rich running history that evolved there over the years. Norman Tamanaha – The Father of Distance Running in Hawaii Distance running took place on the Hawaiian islands for centuries. Legends exist of ultrarunners running around the various islands well before the Kingdom of Hawaii was established. During the years before World War II, Norman K. Tamanaha (1907-1977) of Palama, Hawaii, emerged as a top runner when he won the Diamond Head five-miler in 1937. The first known marathon held in the islands was in 1943 from Moiliili to Makapuu. In 1946 Tamanaha became the Hawaiian AAU 10-mile champion, and he was the first Hawaiian to finish the Boston Marathon the following year. He dominated Hawaiian races for a decade in his 40s and finished the Boston Marathon a total of five times. His best performance there came in 1952 when he finished in fifth place with 2:52:10. He achieved great fame on the islands, organized many races, was a longtime high school track coach, and became known as “the father of distance running in Hawaii.” Roger Toguchi - AAU Races in Hawaii As early as 1954, the AAU in Hawaii was organized and became active in putting on road races of various distances including the Hawaiian AAU Marathon. Roger S. Toguchi (1924-1978), a service station owner, was the chairman of the AAU Hawaiian long distance running committee for many years. He was a respected running pioneer who helped a generation of long-distance runners. He designed the initial marathon course to finish in front of his service station. Continuing into the 1960s, Toguchi made a huge contribution, including financially, to amateur athletics in the Islands, not only to distance running but also to weightlifting and women’s track. For his efforts, in 1962 he was awarded a life-time membership in the AAU. From 1963-66, the Hawaiian AAU Marathon was run as loops at Kapiolani Park and then changed to follow a route that later became the course for the Honolulu Marathon. Johnny Faerber Johnny Faerber (1936-) was a legendary runner in Hawaii. He won the 1967 Hawaii marathon and recalled, “I was the only one to finish in ’67. We got started at 8 a.m. and it was really hot by the time we got out to Hawaii Kai. There were six or seven other guys running, but they all dropped out. We didn’t have water stops or any of that stuff then." In 1971 Tamanaha helped move the marathon to Maui and in 1976 it was renamed to “Maui Marathon.” Tamanaha died at the age of 70 in 1977 and Toguchi died at the young age of 53 in 1978. Kapiolani Park Kapiolani Park, in Honolulu on the east end of Waikiki, became the centerpiece for Hawaiian running. It is one of the oldest public parks in Hawaii. In 1952, the 300-acre park started to become popular for use, when it was renovated. The two-mile circumference became a very common place to run with views of the ocean and Diamond Head. Over the years,
29 minutes | May 12, 2021
78: Strolling Jim 40 Mile Run
By Davy Crockett The Strolling Jim 40, held in Wartrace, Tennessee, is one of the top-five oldest ultras in America that is still being held to the present-day (2021). It is a road race that runs on very hilly paved and dirt roads, the brainchild of Gary Cantrell (Lazarus Lake). Because its distance is a non-standard ultra-distance of 41.2 miles, the race perhaps has not received as much publicity as it deserves among the ultrarunning sport. But buried within, is a storied history along with a seemly unbreakable course record set in 1991 by Andy Jones of Canada (and Cincinnati, Ohio), one of the greatest North American ultrarunners who most of the current generation of ultrarunners have never heard of before. The classic Strolling Jim 40 came back into ultrarunning focus during early May 2021, when Andy Jones’ remarkable record was finally broken by Zack Beavin, of Lexington, Kentucky. The story of Strolling Jim must be told along with the progression of its famed course record. Who was Strolling Jim? Strolling Jim (1936-1957) was the first Tennessee Walking Horse to become a National Grand Champion show horse for his breed. He was first trained to pull a wagon and a plow until he was noticed by a well-known Walking Horse trainer, William Floyd Carothers (1902-1944), who owned the Walking Horse Hotel in Wartrace, Tennessee. Carothers thought the horse had potential and bought him for $350 and started training him. In 1939, Strolling Jim competed and won at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration held at Wartrace, Tennessee. He went on with a very successful show career around the U.S., retiring in 1948 in Tennessee. He died in 1957 and was buried by his stables behind the Walking Horse Hotel in Wartrace. Idea for a Race In 1979, Gary Cantrell (1954-), of Shelbyville, Tennessee, was an accounting student at Middle Tennessee State University. He was a veteran of eight marathon finishes and wanted to run in an ultra. But at the time, there were few being held in the South. So, he decided to put on his own ultra for his Horse Mountain Runners Club who trained around the Wartrace, Tennessee area. John Anderson, 29, a sub-3-hour marathoner from Bell Buckle, Tennessee remarked, “Gary and I wanted to run an ultramarathon and so we decided to put on one of our own. He got out the maps and lined out a course. At first, I thought we should call it the ‘Idiots Run,’ but I believe Gary came up with a more appropriate name.” They decided to start Strolling Jim 40 in the town of Wartrace, nicknamed the “Cradle of the Walking Horse.” Cantrell said, “The course is mostly hills, and I believe for a runner to finish the race it will be less what’s in the legs and more of what’s in the mind. It is about 90 percent mental. It will pretty much be up to each runner to make it on his own. Runners will have to run with the course rather than at it.” The news reported, “The race will be anything but a stroll. The 40-mile loop begins near the well house which guards the old sulfur and mineral water source near the middle of the town. The course winds through rural Bedford County communities before heading back to the finish line in front of the Walking Horse Hotel. Along the route numerous hills will furnish tortuous entertainment for the ultramarathoners.” Cantrell added, “It’s an isolated backwaters place that has changed little in this century.” He was surprised that many wanted to run the difficult race. “Six or eight doctors will be in the race and that sort of surprised me. You’d think of all people they’d know better.” Inaugural Race Entrants Gary and Mary Cantrell Ronald Moore (1946-), of Hermitage, Tennessee signed up for the race and planned feed on plenty of dates along the way. He said, “I intend to try and blend in with the course and just try to finish. I’ve been looking for a challenge and this course is really an obstacle. I guess I am kind of foolish for trying at race this f...
22 minutes | Apr 26, 2021
77: The 100-miler: Part 24 (1978-1979) Alan Price – Ultrawalker
By Davy Crockett Episode 75 introduced the Fort Meade 100 held in Maryland from 1978-1989. Lost in the Fort Meade history of the late 1970s was the fact that it also attracted Centurion racewalkers who attempted to walk 100 miles in less than 24-hours. It was reported, “Some participants were walkers engaged in an odd-looking sport of walking heel-to-toe as fast as possible. It’s a small sport, there’s a lot of camaraderie in it, with only about 600 people participating nationwide.” Alan Price, an African American racewalker, was a fixture at Fort Meade 100 each year. He was an incredible athlete who became perhaps the greatest American ultra-distance racewalker ever. Price was truly an ultrarunning legend. Also covered in this episode is a division of the ultrarunning sport that most Americans have never heard about before. It is The Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) in England that started holding 100-mile walking events during the 1970s that attracted the general public and some 100-mile runners. The events set the stage for many of the modern 100-mile trail events. Alan Price – 100-mile walker Alan Eugene Price (1947-2015) was an African America walker from Washington D.C. who sold herbs and health products. He took up the ultra-walking sport in 1974, and explained, “I had been running the 880-yard run for a club called the Travelers. The trouble was that I never seemed to finish better than last. There was this one meet where I finished my usual last. Then I heard the announcer make the first call for a two-mile race-walk. I looked around and saw that only one person had responded. Since there were three trophies being given out for the event, I decided to give it a try. I accidently took third place.” At that time, marathon fields consisted of hundreds of runners, while racewalking fields included only about a dozen walkers. This helped him decide to stick with racewalking because of the better chance to win a trophy. It took Price some time to get the walking technique down. He said, "There can be a thin line between walking and running. It all depends on how the judges view it. When I first started out, I was guilty of things like not having both feet on the ground at all times. That made me more careful than anything else. It's no fun to go out for five or six miles and then have someone disqualify you." Bennicker Junior High School As a black American, Price was a pioneer in the sport. He became a member of the Potomac Valley Seniors track club and said he felt funny practicing his walking in the daylight in Washington D.C., so he would train in the darkness of night at the track at Bennicker Junior High School. He said, “People who don’t do this, think it’s easy. That’s because they haven’t tried it yet.” Just as today, the ultra-walking sport back in the late 1970s wasn’t well understood by the public. Price would be the object of taunts and laughter. "People saw the switching of the behind and arms flailing, and they seemed to get a big kick out of it. But after seeing for a while, they begin to realize that there must be some difficulty in it. People who saw me train in Malcolm X Park over the years respected what I was doing." Larry O'Neil Price first walked for personal satisfaction. He said, “It was something that I felt natural doing.” Then in 1976, he went to a meet at Niagara Falls, New York, where the top racewalkers in America were trying out for the Olympics. The top three finishers qualified, and he was only one minute behind. He said, “I was surprised, and it was at that point that I knew I could hang with the big boys.” Episode 63 introduced “Centurions,” a brotherhood of walkers who had reached 100 miles in a judged racewalking event. Larry O’Neil (1907-1981), a lumberjack from Kalispell, Montana was America’s 100-mile walking pioneer who dominated events during the early days, setting in 1967 the American out-door record of 19:24:34.
22 minutes | Apr 11, 2021
76: The 100-miler: Part 23 (1983) The 24-Hour Two-Man Relay
By Davy Crockett This is a bonus episode about the Fort Meade races covered in episode 75. In the 1970s, a 24-hour relay craze took place at high schools, colleges and running clubs. By 1972, Runner's World Magazine, in Mountain View, California, was publishing results along with some standardized rules for these relays participated by hundreds of runners. The Washington and Baltimore Road Runners Clubs were early adopters the relay format when they established a 24-hour 10-man-team relay race in 1970 on the track at Mullins Field in Fort Meade where participants would run one-mile legs. The event would eventually expand to 50-mile and 100-mile solo races competed by many of the best American ultrarunners of the time. By the early 1980s, a few ultrarunners had tried to see how far they could go in 24-hours with just a two-man team. The known world record was 193 miles. During that time, the Philadelphia area was the home of many great roadrunners, with much credit to Browning Ross who organized numerous competitive races in the region for years. In 1983, two elite ultrarunners in America became inspired to try to break the world two-man 24-hour record on that track at Fort Meade in Maryland. These ultrarunners were Neil Weygandt and Dan Brannen. Neil Weygandt Neil Weygandt was from Havertown, Pennsylvania and worked at a sports store. During his running career, he was best known for his 45 consecutive finishes of the Boston Marathon, including 24 consecutive finishes in less than three hours. But in ultras circles during the 1980’s and 90’s he was known for his achievements in fixed-time races, especially 6-day races. Weygandt in 1963 Weygandt ran cross country at Haverford High School and became their top runner and team captain. In 1962 at the age of fifteen, he met future ultrarunning great Tom Osler (see episode 67), who was 22 at the time. Weygandt started to go on long training runs with Osler, beginning a life-long friendship and mentorship. In 1966 Weygandt went on to college and ran on the cross-country team at Pennsylvania Military Colleges (later named Widener University) where he became a champion. He also ran with on the South Jersey Track Club with Osler and Ed Dodd. Weygandt ran his first marathon in 1966, with a time of 2:50:10. He said, "It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be." Osler convinced Weygandt to run the Boston Marathon in 1967 starting his long association with that storied event. From 1968 to 1971 Wegandt was a member of various track clubs that would run in races against other clubs. He and Osler competed together and frequently won in road races up to 17 miles long. From 1971-73 he worked with the Road Runners of America as a Vice President over the Eastern United States. In 1977, he began to run ultras, with the Metropolitan 50-miler in Central Park, finishing in 6:39. By 1980 Weygandt stepped up to the 100 km distance and excelled running the Great Philadelphia to Atlantic City Road Race. In 1982 set a world indoor best running 133 miles in 24 hours at the Haverford College fieldhouse. That year he also ran his lifetime best for 100 miles at Shea Stadium in New York with a time of 14:35.27. In 1983, he was living in Ardmore, Pennsylvania and a member of the Haverford Athletic Association along with Dan Brannen. Dan Brannen Dan Brannen (1953-) was from Upper Darby, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He would make a life-time impact on the sport of ultrarunning. The Brannen family were Irish Catholics, and he went to Catholic schools growing up, including St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, the same school that ultrarunning legend, Ed Dodd attended several years earlier (see episode 74). Brannen's senior picture In high school Brannen was required to participate in an athletic extra-curricular activity. He explained, “I was a shrimpy little kid. I played little league baseball, but I wasn’t particularly athletic or coordinated.
27 minutes | Mar 29, 2021
75: The 100-miler: Part 22 (1978) Fort Meade 100
By Davy Crockett Park Barner at Fort Meade During the 1960s and 1970s, most of the 100-mile races were held on oval tracks. Additionally, 100 miles were achieved during 24-hours races, usually also held on tracks. Running for 100 miles on an oval track seemed like an extreme oddity back then, even as it does today. During that period, there were 19 known track 100-mile running races held worldwide, that were not also 24-hours races. In addition, there were many other 100-mile racewalking competitions in both England and America where walkers sought to become a “Centurion” by walking 100 miles in 24 hours of less (see episode 63). The first modern-era track 100-miler (running) was held in Durban, South Africa in 1964 won by Manie Kuhn in 17:48:51. In America, the first track 100 was held in 1975 in New York, the Queensborough 100, won by Park Barner in 13:40:59 (see episode 66). Beginning in 1978, an important track 100-miler started to be held, that became the premier track 100-miler. The race was held on an military base at Fort Meade, Maryland in America. It would be held there for twelve years. This 100-miler was dominated by Ray Krolewicz of South Carolina, who won it six times. Sadly, this race has been mostly forgotten in the annuls of ultrarunning history. Please help support this podcast. I’ve joined a partnership with Ultrarunning Magazine. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Visit https://ultrarunninghistory.com/mag Subscribe or renew today with this link. Fort Meade Fort Meade (Camp Meade) in Maryland became an active Army installation in 1917 built for troops drafted into World War I. It was located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Before being established there was barely a town in the area, just peach orchards and “one-horse towns.” The principal feature was the railroad. The location for the camp near the Potomac River was chosen because of the good access to the railroad. The camp was named after Major General George G. Meade for his victory at Gettysburg which led toward victory for the North during the Civil War. During World War I, about 500,000 soldiers were trained at Camp Meade. After the war, tanks were brought back from Europe, and the camp was selected to be the home for the Tank Corp. Generals George Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower met there and established a friendship. During World War II, the post was designated as Fort Meade and a staggering 3.5 million men passed through there. In 1943 it also housed about 1,700 Italian and German war prisoners. After the war, the fort reverted to more routine Army peacetime activities. It housed the National Security Agency (NSA) and was used for air defense systems during the Cold War. During the 1970s it became the primary location for national intelligence. 24-hour Relays In the 1970s, a 24-hour relay craze took place at high schools, colleges and running clubs. Records were claimed, but hard to compare because the number of team members in the relays varied so much and record keeping was always suspect. These type of running relays took place as early as 1907. (see episode 72). In 1970, the Washington and Baltimore Road Runners Clubs organized a 24-hour 10-man-team relay race on the track at Mullins Field in Fort Meade. The event would eventually expand to 50-mile and 100-mile solo races competed by many of the best American ultrarunners of the time. The base opened their doors to runners and kindly made facilities available including restrooms and showers. Nick Marshall wrote, “This was an era when many military bases had very open policies. They had guardhouses at the gates, but security was often minimal. Showing I.D. was not required before getting on the Fort Meade base. We would just pause at the gate and mention that we were running the race and they would wave us through. It was definitely very casual.”
29 minutes | Mar 9, 2021
74: The 100-miler: Part 21 (1978) Ed Dodd and Don Choi
By Davy Crockett 1978 was the year when more 100-mile and 24-hour races started to be established in the United States. In 1976, Tom Osler of New Jersey brought renewed American ultrarunning attention to the 24-hour run when he ran a solo 24-hour run on that track at Glassboro State College where he was teaching. (see episode 67). Enthusiasm for attempting to race for more than 100 miles in 24 hours started to spread. Two very influential ultrarunning pioneers, Ed Dodd, of Collingswood, New Jersey, and Don Choi of San Francisco, California, brought their race directing and running skills to the 24-hour arena in the 1978. These two legendary runners developed a friendship during that year which would later result in the reestablishment of the modern-era multi-day races, including the renowned six-day race. Dodd and Choi can be considered the “fathers” of the modern multi-day ultras. This all came about as Dodd uncovered the history of 19th century Pedestrians, and they both gained experience running 100 miles in 1978, and put on ultramarathons. Please help support this podcast. I’ve joined a partnership with Ultrarunning Magazine. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Visit https://ultrarunning.com/ultrarunning-history/ Subscribe or renew today with this link. The March 2021 issue includes Gary Cantrell's run across America and the top 2020 Fastest Known Time performances. First modern-era American 24-hour races 24-hour attempts and records returned in the post-war modern era of ultrarunning in the early 1950s when Wally Hayward (1908-2006) of South Africa broke the world record in 1953, running on a track in London, reaching 159 miles, 562 yards (see episode 61). In 1967, Steve Seymour (1920-1973), an Olympic athlete in the javelin throw, established the first modern-era American 24-hour race, which was held indoors on the Los Angeles Athletic Club indoor track. It was called the “24-hour Last Day Run” and was held annually on Halloween (see episode 6). Seymour reached 100 miles in the 1967 inaugural race. On September 6, 1969, an African-American maintenance worker, father of seven children, Jared R. Beads (1928-1996), age 41, ran solo 121 miles, 440 yards in 22:27 on a high school track at Timonium, Maryland. It was thought to be the best unofficial track mark in America in 66 years. "A dozen friends kept records of times he circled the track, jogged along with him, and passed him sodas and fruit." Later that year, Lu Dosti, of California, improved the American 24-hour record to 127 miles on the Los Angeles indoor track. In 1970, Miki Gorman became the first modern-era woman to cover 100 miles in 24-hours on the same track in 1970, reaching 100 miles in 21:04:04 for a world record (see episode 64). In 1976, Tom Osler of New Jersey, ran 114 miles on an outdoor track at Glassboro State College as a fund-raising event and as an experiment for a run/walk ratio test. He reached 100 miles in 18:19:27. (see episode 67). In 1977 Max Telford also ran a solo road 24-hour run in Hawaii, reaching 155 miles (see episode 69). More than a dozen modern-era 24-hour races on the track were held in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa before 1978. But track 24-hour races were slow to return to America. The stage was set for the return. Ed Dodd Edward Levi Dodd Jr. (1946-) was originally from Drexel Hill, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Edward Levi Dodd Sr (1923-1994), was a machinist, and mother, Theresa Wellock Dodd (1927-2003) was a receptionist at a doctor’s office. In 1960, as a freshman at a Catholic Prep School, St. Joseph’s, in Philadelphia, Dodd became introduced to running. He explained, “That summer, a bunch of us went to a local high school track and thought we would try to run around the track ten times. We didn’t even know how far it was. We ran around and got done, huffing and puffing and lying around,
28 minutes | Feb 21, 2021
73: The 100-miler: Part 20 (1978-79) The Unisphere 100
By Davy Crockett 1978 was a year when new road 100-milers started to spring up across America, put on by independent race directors. Most of these races were available for the non-elite long-distance runners to give the epic distance a try. These 100-milers were held in Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri. One race in particular was established that would eventually become a national championship event: the 100-miler at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York. Going forward 100-mile or 24-hour races would be held at this venue into the 1990s. World and American records would be set on the grounds normally used by thousands of park visitors. Please help support this podcast. I’ve joined a partnership with Ultrarunning Magazine. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Visit https://ultrarunning.com/ultrarunning-history/ Subscribe or renew today. Unisphere 100 Flushing Meadows Park was created in 1939 for the New York World’s Fair and was also the venue for the 1964 World’s Fair. The races’ namesake, the Unisphere, a massive spherical steel representation of the Earth, was created as part of the 1964 World’s Fair. It is 140 feet high and 120 feet in diameter and weighs 700,000 pounds. The rings around it represent the tracks of the first men to orbit the earth, celebrating the beginning of the space age. The course for the 1978 100-mile race was a flat, but uneven, 2.27-mile loop that went closely around Meadow Lake. The race included a strong field and was an invitational race where participants needed to have previous ultramarathon experience. Twenty-two qualified runners participated although few had ever run the 100-mile distance before. Five of these runners deserve to be highlighted. Park Barner Park Barner (1944-), “The Human Metronome,” was a computer programmer from Pennsylvania. He was the pre-race favorite for the Unisphere 100. Barner had served in the Army and was stationed in Germany during the late 1960s. While there, he watched a movie that inspired him to start running and set a goal to run a marathon. At the 1971 Boston Marathon, he met ultrarunning legend Ted Corbitt (1919-2017) and asked him, “How do you run 100 miles?” Corbitt’s reply was, “You just have to tell yourself to keep going.” Barner at the age of 27, in 1971, started running ultra-distance races and quickly became the greatest American ultrarunner of the 1970s. In 1976 he gained fame by running 300 km on the C&O Towpath in Maryland, in 36:48:34. During that run he reached 100 miles in 16:14:10. On August 16, 1975, Barner ran his first formal 100-mile race. It was held on a quarter-mile track at New York’s Queensboro Community College, put on by the New York Road Runners. There were only seven starters and all but Barner dropped out along the way. He reached 50 miles in 6:32 but without any competition, he faded the second half. He won with a time of 13:40:59 for a lifetime best. By 1978, Barner had finished 41 races of 50 miles or longer and won 19 of them. Barner’s 41 finishes was incredible for a time when relatively few ultras were being held. For more about Barner, see episode 51. Nick Marshall Nick Marshall (1948-) was from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. He was an athlete in high school on the track team and the statistician for the basketball team. In his yearbook he was quoted, “I don’t want to be an engineer, I’d rather be President.” Marshall started running marathons in 1973. He realized that the longer the race, the better he could compete. He said, “I was motivated by a simple curiosity over a basic question: How far can you go?” He set his marathon best of 2:41:15 in 1975 at the Harrisburg Marathon. Marshall’s introduction to ultras came in 1974, at the C&O Canal 100K on a point-to-point course from Washington D.C. to Harpers Ferry. He finished in second place to Park Barner and was then hooked on ultras. By 1977,
28 minutes | Feb 7, 2021
72: The 100-miler: Part 19 (1977) Don Ritchie World Record
By Davy Crockett During the early 1970s, the majority of the American ultramarathons were held in the eastern states, including 100-milers. But by the late ‘70s, a western migration was taking place and soon the state of California was holding the most ultras. Ultrarunners learned about races mostly by word-of-mouth from other runners who they would see before and after a race. That is how American, Frank Bozanich, a future ultrarunning hall of famer, received an invitation to run in a historic race, the 1977 24-hour Crystal Palace Track Race in England, where the Scot, Don Ritchie would make 100-mile history. Details of that race is told for the first time in this episode. Please help support this podcast. I’ve joined a partnership with Ultrarunning Magazine. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Visit https://ultrarunning.com/ultrarunning-history/ Subscribe or renew today. Nick Marshall Starts Compiling 100-mile Finishes. In 1976, future American ultrarunning hall of famer, Nick Marshall (1948-) of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, published the world’s first newsletter dedicated purely to ultrarunning. This annual publication became known as the Ultradistance Summary. Marshall wrote, “There had always been a coverage-void for the fledgling sport, and I sort of filled it by default, simply because no one else was doing anything along these lines.” He explained, “No summary is perfect, but I think this one provides a fairly complete and quick summary touching of the major bases.” Marshall tried to compile the top American 100-mile times in history. His attempt to compile the top 100-mile times was a Herculean effort given the lack of access to resources and newspapers. He found 20 Americans who had reached 100 miles in less than 20 hours by 1977. Some performances were of course missed. Also, if 100-milers were included for runners throughout the entire world before 1977, the sub-20-hour list exceeds 200 world-wide runs. Marshall’s 1977 Ultradistance Summary stated that no formal 100-mile races took place in 1977, but actually a few were held worldwide along with a half-dozen 24-hour races. One significant 100-miler that was overlooked because it was not yet tied into the ultrarunning sport -- the first Western States 100 from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California. While the Western States course was actually only 89 miles at the time, the 1977 race has an important place in 100-mile history. (see episode 71). Don Ritchie – the Stubborn Scotsman Donald A. Ritchie (1944-2018) was from Scotland and some people argue that he was the greatest ultrarunner in history on tracks and roads for ultra-distances of 100 miles or less. In his early teens he took part in school sports as a sprinter and usually finished in the top three. When he was sixteen years old, he participated in his first “walking race” which was popular at that time. The race was for seven miles and had 45 walkers. Ritchie finished “a tired fifth” and walked in his working clothes and shoes. He walked the race again the following year and was bothered that two girls beat him. He concluded that he probably needed to train. Ritchie ran cross-country in school, and during the track season raced the 440 and 880 yard races. His coach advised him to concentrate on the 880. In 1963 at the age of 19, he started to run fifteen miles regularly with Alastair Wood (1933-2003), one of the great ultrarunners of the early 1970’s, who later won London to Brighton race in a record time. Ritchie eventually started to keep up with him on training runs. Don Ritchie and Alastair Wood Scottish Athletics required that runners be at least 21 years old in order to run in marathons. In 1965 Ritchie was old enough and entered a marathon with Alastair Wood. The furthest Ritchie had trained was 17 miles. He did great and was pleased with his finish time of 2:43. His mentor Wood, won the race in 2:24.
30 minutes | Jan 22, 2021
71: The 100-miler: Part 18 (1977) Western States 100
By Davy Crockett The 1977 Western States 100 Andy Gonzales In 1977, Wendell T. Robie (1895-1984), the president of the Western States Trail Foundation and the director of the Western States Trail Ride (Tevis Cup), decided that it was time to add a runner division to his famous Ride. For more than two decades this 100-mile endurance horse race had been held on the famous trail in the California Sierra. Could ultrarunners also race the course? Robie had previously helped seven soldiers successfully complete the course on foot in 1972 (See Forgotten First Finishers), the first to do so, and had been pleased that Gordy Ainsleigh had been the first to finish the trail in under 24-hours in 1974. (See Episode 66). In addition, dozens of people had backpacked the trail since then, and a couple others had tried to run the course solo during the Ride. Robie believed it was time to organize a foot race on "his trail" for the first time. This first Western States 100 in 1977 was hastily organized by riders, not runners. There was no consultation with the existing well-established ultrarunning sport at that time. Practices were put in place that mostly mirrored the endurance horse sport such as mandatory medical checks, but did not use the existing ultrarunning practice of setting up aid stations. The event would be held with nearly 200 riders and horses also competing on the course at the same time as the runners. The day would turn out to be perhaps the hottest ever for the historic race. The risks were extremely high for this small rookie running race staff and some rather naïve runners. Who were the runners who turned out for this historic first race? Did they have the experience to finish or just survive? Please help support this podcast. I’ve joined a partnership with Ultrarunning Magazine. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Visit https://ultrarunning.com/ultrarunning-history/ Subscribe or renew today. Race Organization Gordy Ainsleigh On Robie's race staff was Gordy Ainsleigh, of nearby Meadow Vista, California. He was perhaps the most experienced runner in on the staff with some cross-country running experience. He had also run in some Ride & Tie events and of course had run the course solo three years earlier. Ainsleigh had hoped to get the race director job from Robie and talked about putting in a qualifier requirement that the runners had to have completed a marathon in at most 3:15. He said, “We don’t want anyone who isn’t a good runner.” Thankfully, that requirement was not put in place. Ainsleigh did not have the organizational skills to put together a race and was not the race founder. Robie was the man in charge for the 1977 race and gave the race director job to Curt Sproul. Curt Sproul Curtis Cutter Sproul (1948-), of Weimer, California, originally from Pebble Beach, was designated by Robie as the 1977 Western States 100 manager, assisted by his wife, Marion "Mo" Orrick Sproul (1951-). Curt Sproul was an experienced endurance rider and a young attorney. He was the grandson of Robert Gordon Sproul (1891-1975) who was the first system-wide President of the University of California system and president of UC Berkeley. Mo and Curt Sproul in 1972 Curt Sproul, born into privilege, received his love for the outdoors from his parents. His father was also an attorney, an outdoors enthusiast and environmentalist, who frequently took his family on trips to Yosemite National Park and camping trips to Wyoming. His mother had once climbed to Everest Base Camp. Sproul's wife, Mo, was originally from San Francisco. Her father was an attorney and the president of the San Francisco Opera Association. The Sprouls met and married when both attending UC Berkley. They both would become very important contributors toward the founding and growth of Western States 100. Race Planning The first year, in 1977,
29 minutes | Jan 9, 2021
70: The 100-miler: Part 17 (1973-1978) Badwater Roots
By Davy Crockett Walks and runs across Death Valley, in California during the hot summer started as early as 1966 when Jean Pierre Marquant (1938-) from Nice, France accomplished a 102-mile loop around the valley that included climbing two of the high mountains. (see episode 62). This started a Death Valley hiking and running frenzy in the lowest and hottest place in North America. It mostly concentrated on 100+ mile end-to-end journeys across the blazing wilderness. End-to-end records were set, broken, and recorded by the Death Valley Monument rangers. All of these accomplishments were the roots for what eventually would be the Badwater Ultramarathon. But when did trekking from Badwater (-282 feet) to the top of Mount Whitney (14,505 feet) start? Please help support this podcast. I’ve joined a partnership with Ultrarunning Magazine. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Visit https://ultrarunning.com/ultrarunning-history/ Subscribe or renew today. Early Ideas In 1937, Texaco tested 14 automobiles of various models going from Mt. Whitney portal to Badwater in temperatures in the 120s to see if both engines and tires could handle it. It was called, “one of the most grueling tests ever given to automobiles in history” and was successful. In 1939, the low and high points received more attention when the San Francisco Examiner published a “motorlogue” stating that seeing both in one drive was a “must see.” More attention brewed in 1956, when a Los Angeles newspaperman, Richard Hathcock made a film of a four-day trip by car from Badwater to Mt. Whitney that was shown on ABC’s “Bold Journey” show. In 1958 an article in the Boston Globe promoted the area with, "Do you like extremes? You can see Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the United States, and Badwater, the lowest point, from the same place at Dante's View. You can travel in a few hours from the heat of the desert to the snow fields of the High Sierra." First Badwater-Mt Whitney Trek The first documented hikers to go from Badwater to the top of Mount Whitney were James Harvey Burnworth (1926-2013) and Stanley David Rodefer (1925-2019) from San Diego, California, who in November 1969, backpacked the route in two weeks. Instead of using the roads, they took a direct route across the Valley. They said they did it “just for the heck of it.” They survived on food and water that they had buried in various locations ahead of time. By 1970, many hikers were making the trek across Death Valley, but not yet up to Mt. Whitney summit too. It was reported, “The way park rangers tell it, they’ll need crosswalks pretty soon to handle all the foot traffic across Death Valley." In 1970 about a half-dozen hikers made the trek including one pulling a miniature covered wagon. A ranger reported, “We’ve got a big list of inquiries from persons who want to walk, run, hike, skip, jump and handstand their way through here and we just can’t keep up with them all anymore.” In 1978 a man even went across the Valley on a Tricycle. Rangers stopped trying to keep end-to-end Valley records. They had given up keeping tabs on hikers. There were just too many. Paul Pfau Paul Pfau (1950-), age 21, of Arcadia, California, was a student at St. Mary’s College in California. As a class project in psychology, he decided to try to run Death Valley end-to-end, 120 miles. He accomplished it during the winter of 1971 in three days, two hours. He thought he was the first to do this but was not. (see episode 62). About a month later, he ran back in the other direction, again taking three days but was on his feet for 26 hours. He was the first known person to run it in both directions. A couple months later in May, he also climbed Mt. Whitney with a friend, but not in a continuous trip from Badwater. But news of both his Death Valley runs and climb up Mt. Whitney were widely published together. In January 1972,
28 minutes | Dec 27, 2020
69: The 100-miler: Part 16 (1976-1977) Max Telford and Alan Jones
By Davy Crockett In the 1970s, the sport of ultrarunning received very little attention in the mainstream media. In April 1974, Park Barner from Pennsylvania, the top ultrarunner in America at the time, did appear on a local television show. The episode was entitled, “The Loneliness of the Ultra-Distance Runner.” He also later was on CBS's PM Magazine. But the ultrarunners who really succeeded in getting the attention of the public were those who rarely participated in formal races and instead put on endurance stunts that were attention-grabbers. The most prominent runners had the help of skilled marketing resources to keep their name in the spotlight. Their goal was not to go after sanctioned records or even formal course records. Instead, they focused mostly on getting their name into the Guinness Book of World Records to claim invented "world records," which are what we call today "fastest known times." Because the most elite ultrarunners in the world were not self-promoters, they remained in general obscurity except among their ultrarunning competitors and clubs. It was the self-promoter record-seekers who truly became famous. Two of these individuals who caught the attention of the American public in the mid-1970s were Max Telford of New Zealand and Alan Jones, a marine from Iowa, who was stationed in Oregon. Telford was touted as being the greatest long-distance runner in the world and Jones became known as "Captain America." Both ran 100 miles and both their stories are fascinating and inspirational. It is believed that neither went down the fraudulent road as many other self-promoters did. Please help support this podcast. I’ve joined a partnership with Ultrarunning Magazine. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Visit https://ultrarunning.com/ultrarunning-history/ Subscribe or renew today. Max Telford Max Telford (1936-) was from Scotland, New Zealand, Hawaii, and the Philippines. He was a legitimate elite ultrarunner who sought out amazing running adventures to be the first or the fastest. He did race in some legitimate competitive races, but never really competed against the best in the world. Instead, he did many successful solo stunts and self-promotions, working with sponsors who at times made "over the top" claims about his abilities. He greatly inspired others to run. He had ambitions “to become the greatest long distance runner of all time” and many people of his time believed he was. Telford grew up in Scotland. He went to work in the clothing industry and played rugby and soccer when serving in the military. After moving to New Zealand in 1958, when he was 22 years old, he joined the Mount Albert Athletic Club to get into shape for rugby season. He enjoyed running and did pretty well, so he decided to stick with it. Arthur Lydiard Telford first ran middle distances and cross-country. He trained with legendary Arthur Lydiard’s group of middle and long-distance athletes. Lydiard was recognized as one of the greatest coaches of all time and credited for popularizing the sport of running. On May 2, 1964, Telford gave a try at running 100 miles, and set a New Zealand 100-mile record of 14:58:36. At the age of 32, when Telford didn’t qualify for the Mexico Olympics in 1968, he discussed with Lydiard what he should do next and decided to move up to ultra-distances. To get in his miles, he would put in an eight-hour shift at work and then go run 30 miles. At the peak for his ultra training, he would run three times per day and run 200-mile weeks. Telford said, "I quickly found I could run incredibly long distances with no strain really. I stood up to it very well, and soon was covering 50 miles, then 100." In April 1970, he ran for 24 hours on Lovelock Trick in Auckland and reached 114 miles. Around 1971 he quit his job in the clothing business to run full-time and do physical fitness instruction.
29 minutes | Dec 19, 2020
68: The 100-miler: Part 15 (1975-1976) Andy West
By Davy Crockett Since the dawn of the sport of ultrarunning more than a century ago, a unique breed of ultrarunner has existed which I will call the "self-promoter." They were skilled in using their running talents to gain fame and fortune, mostly by doing "stunts" rather than participating in competitions. There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking to make a living this way. Before World War II, most ultrarunners were "professionals" who lived off winnings, wagers, and gate receipts from doing stunts. But sadly, many self-promoters would make false claims, play on the sympathies of a gullible public, and some would resort to fraud and thievery. When telling the history of the sport, these stories of self-promoters must be delicately pointed out so that their achievements can put in their proper place. Caution must be used to sort through a multitude of claims to find the legitimate. In 1985, Gary Cantrell (of Barkley fame) warned the sport about this type of runner who would step forward to claim an undeserved spotlight for gain, disrespecting the entire sport. Ultrarunning historian, Andy Milroy, explained that there were indeed some true scam artists that were quite skilled at their craft. “Many of the rest were delusional who believed they had run the distances claimed. Most saw it as an easy meal ticket.” Self-promoting practices crept into 100-mile history and had a place in it, good or bad. Typically, once the runner received some fame, they performed self-promoting stunts to gain local or national attention, often in the guise of raising money for charity. Some were scammers who were hard to detect at the time, and they were mostly adored. Others were legitimate talents who figured out creative ways to shine the spotlight on their accomplishments. Patterns of behavior of these runners have been similar over the decades. Most of these ultra-distance runners had true talent, would become serious self-promoters, and then would shy away from true competition against the best in the sport. Instead of competing, they put on stunts that would impress others. Their goal was typically to get their names in the Guinness Book of World Records, which during the 1970s had low standards of verification. These runners often claimed their own created "world records," sought after speaking engagements, and inspired many with their stories (with a little or a lot of fiction sprinkled in). Occasionally a skeptical reporter would find out that many of their accomplishments were actually falsified, that they claimed feats that never happened. Not all self-promoters were frauds, but most of the frauds were self-promoters who claimed they were the best ultrarunners in the world. Past Examples Over the years, many self-promoting stunt artists gravitated toward accomplishing walks or runs across America, or even the entire world in record times, or doing other such amazing accomplishments. In the early 1900s an army of "globe trotters" showed up in towns nearly every month in the Midwest United States, claiming to be on amazing journeys on foot, seeking lecture opportunities and free room and board. More than 90% of them were frauds. (See episodes 23, 40, and 41). Some runners just made claims about things they did in long-past years that were impossible to verify at the time. An early example was Dumirtru Dan (1890-1978), who became a Romanian hero in the late 1960s. He claimed that he walked 60,000 miles in 1910-1916, all over the world in an "amazing race" of hundreds of runners. He spent the latter years of his life touring, increasing his fame, lecturing, and teaching children about geography using his tales. He was kind and loved by all. Years after his death, nearly $100,000 was spent for a room in a museum about him, his grave was made into a shrine, and an endurance race is still named after him. But sadly, no one took the time to verify his impossible claims, most of which never happened.
30 minutes | Dec 5, 2020
67: The 100-miler: Part 14 (1975-1976) Cavin Woodward and Tom Osler
By Davy Crockett In the early 1970s, several highly competitive 100-mile races had been held in England, but they were still primarily organized for attempts to break British or world records. In 1975 another classic race was held, perhaps one of the greatest and most competitive 100-mile race ever held. It left one reporter speechless, witnessing something that he would never forget, watching some of the fastest 100-mile runners ever, and experiencing the sportsmanship of ultrarunning for the first time. This story must be retold. In America, 100-mile races were being held, open to anyone who wanted to give it a try, even the naïve. In 1975, the annual Camellia 100 held in the Sacramento, California area was held for the fifth year. But the oldest annual American 100-miler that tends to be forgotten, was the Columbia 100 Mile Walk held in Columbia, Missouri. In 1975 It was held for the ninth year. There had been 23 sub-24-hour 100-miler finishes in its history. But this was nothing compared to Great Britain. There, 100-mile walking races had been held annually since 1946, for 30 years, with more than 450 finishes in less than 24 hours. Elsewhere, the Durban 100 held every-other year in South Africa, had been competed six times, with at least 33 finishers (only partial results have been preserved). In Italy, 24-hour races had been held every year since 1970 with 100-mile finishers. In 1975, a 24-hour race with many 100-mile finishers was competed inside the Soviet controlled iron curtain, in Czechoslovakia. Please help support this podcast. I’ve joined a partnership with Ultrarunning Magazine. I can offer a 25% discount on Ultrarunning Magazine subscriptions and renewals. Visit https://ultrarunning.com/ultrarunning-history/ Subscribe or renew today. The Greatest 100-miler – Acolade 100 On October 25, 1975, at the Tipton Sports Union Stadium in Tipton, England, the British Road Runners Club put on the Acolade 100-mile race that has been called the “Greatest 100 Miles” by world ultrarunning history authority, Andy Milroy. Why was it so significant? The 100-miler was an invitation-only race and 18 competitors were carefully selected out of a large group who were interested. All were very experienced ultrarunners, but only a few had actually finished a 100-miler. The most experienced 100-miler runner was Ron Bentley, the current 24-hour world-record holder of 161 miles (see episode 65). But Bentley was hampered by a recent groin injury. The race was held just three weeks after the major ultramarathon of the time, London to Brighton (52 miles). This was a concern because some of the runners also ran there, but they held to the scheduled date. Cavin Woodward Cavin Woodward (1947-2010) was an accountant from Whitnash, England. He started running at the age of 16 in 1963 when he joined the Leamington Cycling and Athletics Club (LC&A), starting a lifetime membership. Cavin Woodward in 1967 He took up marathon running in 1971 because he “felt sorry” for Leamington’s veteran marathoner, Tom Buckingham (1918-1976), age 53, who seemed like he always was the only club member competing in marathon events. Buckingham had started running in 1946. Woodward said, “Tom never seemed to have any support so I decided to run with him. Other distance runners then joined the club.” Soon several runners in the club started to compete in London to Brighton (52 miles). At first Woodward competed in races more for enjoyment than for winning. He said, “But my wife Carol changed that. She was fed up with coming to watch me do not good, so she mapped out a training schedule for me and made sure that I kept to it. It proved a great incentive because Carol comes to watch all my races and gives me encouragement.” She would also bring along their twin boys. Woodward ran his first London to Brighton (52 miles) in 1971 and finished 17th. He said, “I was more interested in finishing than my final posit...
31 minutes | Nov 22, 2020
66: The 100-miler: Part 13 (1974-1975) Gordy Ainsleigh
By Davy Crockett 1974 is the year that most American ultrarunners unfortunately think 100-mile ultrarunning history began. Hopefully the previous twelve parts of this 100 miler history, including 80,000 words of previous history, has helped readers learn about the forgotten 100-mile history. This brings us to 1974. Several 100-mile races and solo runs were held across the globe that year, but the most significant run, which mostly went unnoticed at the time, was performed by Gordy Ainsleigh in the rugged, hot mountains in California. Yes, you were probably told he was the first, but he was actually the 8th to cover that trail on foot during the horse race and the sport of trail ultrarunning was not invented that year. Previous to 1974, many sub-24-hours 100-mile solo runs had been accomplished every year on roads, tracks, and trails. Thus, Ainsleigh's run did not get much attention until several years later, when with some genius marketing, it became an icon for running 100 miles in the mountains, the symbol for Western States 100, founded in 1977. But also hidden in the annals of the Western States Endurance Run history, is a forgotten story of 53 individuals, men and women, who covered the Western States Trail on foot in 1974, just one week after Ainsleigh made his famous run. This was another story that was well-known at the time, but wasn't mentioned in the Western States origin story. Gordy Ainsleigh 1974 was the year when Gordy Ainsleigh made his famed run on the Western States Trail in the California Sierra. Ainsleigh’s solo journey run must be mentioned, examined, and put in its proper historic context, peeling away the decades of marketing hype and myths that grew out of it. Early Years Harry Gordon Ainsleigh, from Meadow Vista, California, was born in Auburn, California in 1947. Frank Ainsleigh Ainsleigh grew up going by the name of Harry. He was the son of Frank Leroy Ainsleigh (1926-2007) who served in the Korea and Vietnam wars, in the Air Force. Frank and Bertha Gunhild (Areson) Ainsleigh (1918-2004) married while Frank was very young. The marriage didn’t work out, and they filed for divorce one month before Gordy was born. He was then raised by his mother (a nurse) and his Norwegian-born grandmother, Bertha Fidjeland Areson (1894-1984), who was also divorced. Frank Ainsleigh left the home, quickly remarried, and eventually settled in Florida where he raced stock cars and worked in a Sheriff’s office as maintenance supervisor over patrol cars. Bertha Ainsleigh remarried in 1952, when Gordy was five, to Walter Scheffel of Weimar, California. He was employed at a sanatorium. But Gordy’s family life continued to be in an uproar. They divorced less than a year later. Nevada City Gordy spent his childhood years in Nevada City, California (about 30 miles north of Auburn). He recalled his first long run. "One day when I was in second grade. I came out on the playground with a bag lunch that Grandma had packed for me, and I just couldn't see anybody who would have lunch with me. I panicked. And I just felt like I couldn't breathe. And I just dropped my lunch, and I ran home for lunch." On another day he missed the bus for school and didn't want to admit to his mother that he again missed it, so he just ran several miles to the school. He explained, "I came in a little late. The teacher knew where I lived. She asked, 'Why are you late?" I said, 'I missed the bus so I ran to school." She was so impressed that she didn't punish him. By the age fourteen, he started to get into trouble with the law, so his mother decided it was time to move out of town, back to the country. They moved back closer to Auburn, on a small farm near the hilly rural community of Meadow Vista. In junior high school, his gym teacher treated P.E. like a military boot camp with lots of pushups. He recalled, "I'd goof off and he'd make me run. I made sure I wore a real pained expression whene...
31 minutes | Nov 11, 2020
65: The 100-miler: Part 12 (1971-1973) Ron Bentley and Ted Corbitt
By Davy Crockett During the 1970s, the modern-era of ultrarunning was slowly increasing. The term “ultramarathon” (“ultra” for short) was introduced by legendary Ted Corbitt about 1957 and by the early 1970s it was being used more often to make the distinction with the public that athletes could run further than the marathon distance. 100-mile races were not yet widely prevalent and open to all, but the spark had been kindled to bring back the distance that many hundreds of runners had achieved before World War II. The shorter ultra-distance races including 50-miles were ever-increasing, including races such as the JFK 50 in Maryland, the Metropolitan 50 in New York City, London to Brighton in England, and the Comrades Marathon in South African. Many other ultradistance races were put on around the New York area by Ted Corbitt and various point-to-point ultras were raced throughout Great Britain. During this emerging 1970s modern era, some of the fastest all-time 100-mile accomplishments were achieved and they have been mostly forgotten. In 1972, an equestrian mountain-trail in the California Sierra named Western States was conquered by seven military veterans, sparking the notion to bring back mountain trail 100-milers that had ceased for decades. Ron Bentley In the Midlands region of England, emerged a tough ultrarunner who would take the 100-mile distance to new levels and influence British runners for generations. Ron Bentley (1930-2019) was born in the Midlands, near Birmingham, England. He grew up in large family, in very humble living conditions. They lived in a two-bedroom home without electricity, where meals were cooked with a pressure stove heated by open fire. As a young boy, he remembered hearing his father tell running stories around the fire. He had been a professional road-runner and influenced his sons to also run. He also lived near British running great, Jack Holden (1907-2004) who left an early impression on him about running. Bentley served in the British army starting in 1949 and participated in many sports with the servicemen including football, basketball and hockey. He did not do much running at first but did ran a race around a hockey field one day. After doing some training in the hills, he started to win cross-country races and his officers could see that he was naturally gifted to run. While serving, he was the overall champion in a Army Track and Field meet, winning middle-distance running events and the Pole Vault. The Tipton Harriers Jack Holden Ron Bentley While home on leave, he watched Jack Holden race in the area. That motivated Bentley to train harder and he went on weekly long runs of about 10 miles. Once out of the service in 1951, he joined the Tipton Harriers, wanting to concentrate on long-distance running. He participated in many races but didn’t start racing the marathon until 1958 when he was 29. He placed third at the Midland Marathon at Baddesley with a time of 2:47:18. Bentley became one of the core leaders of Tipton’s cross-country and road running teams which developed into the most successful club in England. Ron’s voice could always be heard above all others shouting encouragement for his team. Ben Nevis Race Bentley ran a classic trail race in Scotland for many years, the “Ben Nevis Race.” It was only about 10 miles (depending on the route taken) but ran to the top of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis (4,406 feet), and back down. It was said, “It is not an unusual sight to see exhausted runners carried off to the hospital.” The Ben Nevis race began in 1895 and it became a regular organized event in 1937. “Due to the seriousness of the mountain environment, entry was restricted to those who had completed three category A hill races, and runners had to carry waterproofs, a hat, gloves and a whistle.” Bentley’s Early Ultrarunning During the early 1960s, members of the Tipton Harriers ventured into ultra-distances and...
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