Yes, it is curious how this thread has careened off course. But that's the nature of conversations, I guess, electronic or otherwise. My vote (on the original question) is for Geb. Bikila is a towering, majestic figure in the history of the sport--the footage of him running through the streets of Rome at night in 1960 gives me goosebumps every time I see it (yes, I'll admit that). He had two astonishing races in his too-short career, and then a bunch of OK races. Geb gets my vote for his amazing consistency, amazing competitive instincts, and amazing singular performances (his 12:44.39 at Zurich in '95 tops my list of greatest performaces ever personally witnessed). Add to this his personal charisma, radiant good spirits, etc., and you have a rare and wonderful talent--one of the greatest representatives of what's good about the sport that we've ever seen.
>Yes, it is curious how this thread has careened
>off course. But that's the nature of
>conversations, I guess, electronic or otherwise.
>My vote (on the original question) is for Geb.
>Bikila is a towering, majestic figure in the
>e history of the sport--the footage of him
>running through the streets of Rome at night in
>1960 gives me goosebumps every time I see it
>(yes, I'll admit that). He had two astonishing
>races in his too-short career, and then a bunch
>of OK races.
You're high. He won 11 of the 13 races he entered. He was kicking ass in Boston until a cold sea-breeze stiffened him up, and he DNFed in Mexico City with a stress fracture. Gebreselassie has had a stunning career, but you don't need to ignore Bikila' accomplishments. As for a too-short career -- how many other top marathoners' careers spanned three OGs?
High? It doesn't feel like it, but thanks, I guess. I'll have to go home and plow through the history books to remind myself of the nitty-gritty of Bikila's career. But--before I have a chance to do that--if you say he won 11 of 13 races, I'd want to know about the caliber of the other 10 races (3 Olympic marathons aside). Frankly, a career of 13 races really doesn't sound like much. Can't that be describved with reasonable accuracy as "too short"? And to imply that I'm putting him down is just ill-tempered stupidity. I described Bikila as a "towering, majestic figure in the history of the sport." You can go ahead and look all these words up in the dictionary, but I assure you, I am NOT ignoring or diminishing his achievements. Far from it. You've been smoking the ganga yourself, mon.
>Frankly, a career of 13 races really doesn't
>sound like much. Can't that be describved with
>reasonable accuracy as "too short"?
Not by marathoner standards. 13 marathons is more than Khannouchi has run, and I don't any reasonable observer would call him a flash in the pan. Jim Peters' career was of similar length; when he died, none of his obits referred to a "short career". Ken Young ( http://www.mattoleriver.com ) keeps track of all-time win streaks; no sub-2:14 marathoner has ever beaten Bikila's six wins in a row.
There were few non-championship marathons of international standing in the 1960's; pretty much just Beppu-Oita, Boston, Fukuoka, Kosice, and Lake Biwa. Bikila won both Kosice and Lake Biwa in '61, and Lake Biwa again in '65. Back then, it was even harder to get the world's top marathoners together than it is now.
Bikila also reportedly ran marathon time trials in 1960 and '64 that were each within 2 minutes of the then-standing WR. He ran them at over 6000 feet of altitude.
>Keep these enlightening comments coming. I can't
>get through the day without reading about drugs,
>drugs and more drugs. Especially from people who
>deal in rumors and recollections about old
No one has mentioned drugs in quite awhile, except you.
<On my personal scale of things I "discount" all marathoning before the '70s (or even '80s) (see, us old farts don't always think the ancient days were the best!).
Why? Simply because marathons were very obscure bits of competition, contested more by people who were a little strange (and I say that in all kindness) rather than by the incredible athletic specimins we see today. There was just little or no incentive to be a marathoner, so those who excelled didn't really represent the pinnacle of distance talent as they do today.
Bikila was incredible in his day, but his feats pale with those of Geb.>
Hate to disagree with Editor, T&FN. By what thinking does a 2:12 and some marathon run in 1964s most important competition, against all top opponents, pale with say a 2:05 and change race today? Remember also that Bikila's run came about 7 weeks after an appendectomy. When KK, Geb or anyone else for that matter takes down the world best for the marathon by about 3 mins., in the World Championship or the Olympics, I will agree.
Though, Zatopek's 1952 Oly marathon triumph appeared "easy", it is wrong to denigrate this all-time great, compared to the "incredible athletic specimens of today". After Viren, few people have seriously approached a 5/10 double in the Olys and Zatopek went one further. Given his won-loss record for many years, his wins in important meets etc., Emil Z is the track and field athlete of the 20th century in my book.
And the greatest performance is Nurmi's one hour 1500/5000 double at the Paris Olympics. Nowadays athletes get the schedule of races changed to attempt lesser doubles.