Britain has developed some great 800 and up (say 10k) runners. Is it obvious that they dominate US in those events or is there room for some debate? Given the complexity of comparisons across the board - a reasonable or hands down deal?
Well, there are a lot of ways of looking at this . . .
The easiest to look up is national scoring in T&FN's World Rankings (although that only compares from 1947 to present). The Yanks are ahead in the 800, 1500, and steeple; the Brits are ahead in the 5k, 10k, and marathon. If you add them all up the US barely comes out ahead.
(That's men only; consider the women and it's neck-and-neck in every event except the marathon, where our women are by far the best nation in the world in national scoring.)
But that's only one way of looking at it. You can look at Olympic gold medals, Olympic medals, number of superstars, world records, all kinds of things. They have us totally whipped at the 5k and 10k, though.
so in a fantasy (right?) "distance carnival", putting everyone in the same meet - all eras, all things factored. wha happens - outcome? btw for what its worth I've mulled this over for quite a few years - intrigue i spose (i think we all do it from time to time?) - and my better than average, but not expert, knowledge has resulted in ... posting this here. gota bite the bullet and render a verdict/decision. of course 'arguments' accepted, not excepted.
no no no!, I guess I'm not necessarily (well actually I'm not) thinking all time lists - but more all time competitors i.e., whitfield, wottle, wohlulter, cunningham, ryun, scott, liquori(?), mills(?), schul(?), pre, bedford, pirie, moorcroft, etc.
take everyone (you choose) from every era (20s, 30s, (before) til today, have a meet of just 800, 1500(or mile - I like the mile), 5k and 10k - and come up with results. Times, at least from the discussions I've read, are not necessarily the sole factor. Everyone at their peak.
OK! I'm sure the placings I come up with will stir a lot of argument, since they are totally subjective.
The USA-GB Men's Distance-only Time Machine Dual meet
3)Pirie or Moorcroft, GB
You didn't mention steeplechase , but if you want it . . .
Scoring 5-3-1, the Brits take us 22 to 14 (we close to 23-22 if you include the steeple). I really think the 2nd places I gave to Mills and Schul were gifts, as they were based on only one season (and pretty much only one race).
I thought this would come up. Honestly, the pick for Coe at #1 is harder to defend in my mind than Woodruff over Whitfield.
If you're talking career accomplishments, then Whitfield has much more than Woodruff. BUT since the statement was "everyone at their peak", you must realize this: Woodruff ran 1:47.0 indoors in 1940, while Whitfield's career PR was 1:48.0 eight years later. Woodruff also ran an "adjusted" 1:48.0 in 1937 (see http://trackandfieldnews.com/tfn/discus ... thread=324). If we use our imaginary time machine, I'd put the house on Woodruff.
Hey, before anyone corrects me, Whitfield's PR was actually 1:47.9 in 1953, and his 1:48.0 was in 1952. Anyway, Whitfield never came even reasonably close to the WR, while Woodruff may have been cheated out of one, and his indoor mark was only 0.4 off of the outdoor record.
We are talking about winning here.... he knew how to do that ! ( 2 OG gold proves it. )
Plus he was FAST! Was a world-ranked 400 runner or close to it. Ran on 1600 relay team in both 48 and 52 OG's I think, for a gold and a silver. And that 52 team only lost a 3:04.0 WR because Jamaica was a tenth faster.
My files don't show Woodruff ever being beaten in the 800 meters after he entered college (although I'd be happy if someone corrected me, because then I'd know more). He won the Olympic 800 before he was even eligible for NCAA competition.
Woodruff was also fast in the 400, with a PR of 46.7 at a time when the WR was 46.1.
It's an iffy choice, but the data I went from told me Woodruff.
Food for thought re: Mills and Schul: both were WR holders; Mills ('tie' with Lindgren in SD)the yr after the miracle and Schul the yr of his 64 win. Mills was not even on the map for Oly medals while Schul was the favorite as I recall.
Never put the pencil to it, but (cringe) always felt like GB was somewhat ahead. Thought about steeple after I originally posted - and my .02 is it belongs.
And I hope this does stimulate some argument. My brief list of names seems just that - brief. More guns out there? - runners or progosticators?
- is it me or is Whitfield kinda lost to the all but died in wool T&F crowd?
Sorry about that last one--hit "send" before replying. That won't do. Let's try again.
There's some funny reasoning here. Let's recall that Coe never won an OG Gold at 800m. Ovett did (beating Coe in 1980). In the 1500m, on the other hand, Coe won 2 OG golds and Ovett just one bronze. You have to rate Coe over Ovett at 1500. I'm not sure where I'd rate Coe in the 800, but he lost too many big ones to be rated #1 in that event, even if you confine the universe to US and UK runners.
More Whitfield stuff. The maddening thing about him is that he almost never ran for time in the 800 but at the end of '53 he still had 9 of the best 16 times of all times in the 800/880. He was unbeatable from 1948 to 1954 except '51 when he was in the Korean war. He mastered any tactic and won from the front and from the back. He was a superior tactician to Woodruff and he was a better 400m runner. He was more than worldclass in the 400. He was number 1 in the world in '49 and '53. He ran 45.9 when Rhoden had the w-rec at 45.8. He was sometimes better than the Jamaicans.
Unlike Woodruff he beat anybody who was anything in the 800 during those years. (Woodruff never ran in Europe after '36 and thus never ran against Harbig when he was at his peak.) Whitfield lost only 2 early-season races during his career. Lastly, he was an incredible doubler. In '53 he set a world-rec 2.20.8 in the 1000m than came back within the hour and ran U.S. record 440 in 46.2. Whitfield and Woodruff, incidentally, had identical 4.12 mile bests. And yes he had 10.7 100m speed. So count me in the Whitfield camp. In the Britain/U.S. thing the Brits had a string of overlooked 800/1500 guys in the 50s : Brian Hewson, Derek Johnson, Mike Farrel and Mike Rawson. In earlier days they had Wooderson who was world class and more from 800 to 5000. He has surely been overlooked by all of us on the various threads.
Hey, you guys said "peak", not "career". In total career I'd go this way:
1)Ryun or Coe, depending on the importance you place on the OG
2) and 3) Take your pick of Ryun, Cram, Coe, and Ovett
Whitfield had a long and consistent career. But statements like "he never ran for time" sound like excuses for not running fast -- go look at the Keino/Ryun thread, and think about saying "he never ran for time".
Not only did Whitfield never even remotely approach the WR, he barely broke Woodruff's unnofficial (but statistically valid) AR of 1:48.0. One year after he retired, Tom Courtmey took the AR all the way down to 1:46.8 (and Lonnie Spurrier's 1:47.5y that year was intrinsically equal to Courtney's mark). That same year, 1955, Whitfield's PR wouldn't have ranked among the world's top ten. Whitfield's marks were not stunning by pre-WWII standards, and were quite ordinary soon after he left the top.
That said, marks are the least important criteria for evaluating a career. However, others have made clear to me marks are quite important when evaluating someone's peak performance. My evaluation is that Coe had a greater peak than any US or British half-miler, but it was for only one season (1981).
Now if we include the whole Commonwealth, then things get really interesting.
Somewhere else (either here or another site) I mentioned (outside of our US v Britain guideline/criteria) that a T&F staffer - (I think one of the Nelsons) wrote an article on an all time epic 'dream mile' with fairly detailed commentary on the race, how it unfolded, and a dramatic finish.
As I recall this fantasy piece was written in late 60s (?). And I'm thinkin it was in T&FN. It was quite entertaining and (Per) ... - guess who the winner was? Was a surprise to me.
Perhaps someone here recalls, although it would be quite dated now.