Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m


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Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby user4 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:54 pm

What Elliot at 22yrs did on that dirt track in Rome in 1960 simply boggles the mind. Consider that in 1968 on the Mexico City track where Keino has a similar tactic, he only outdoes Elliot by less than 1 second. 1972 nope, 1976, 1980 not even close. It isnt until 1984 (24 years later) that Coe betters by more than a second Elliot's on dirt OG gold. Just maybe one of the greatest raw talents of the 1500m. Watching him makes me wonder, what would he do today at 28yrs at 5000m ?
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby jeremyp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:29 am

user4 wrote:What Elliot at 22yrs did on that dirt track in Rome in 1960 simply boggles the mind. Consider that in 1968 on the Mexico City track where Keino has a similar tactic, he only outdoes Elliot by less than 1 second. 1972 nope, 1976, 1980 not even close. It isnt until 1984 (24 years later) that Coe betters by more than a second Elliot's on dirt OG gold. Just maybe one of the greatest raw talents of the 1500m. Watching him makes me wonder, what would he do today at 28yrs at 5000m ?

Consider that Keino did it at altitude. Consider that Ryun, the wunderkind, was whupped. Don't get me wrong I have always been a big fan of Elliot's, but for 2 (1966 (age 19),1967(age 20)) years Ryun was my super hero. A last 300 in 36.4. A last 1,000m in 2.18's. He didn't finish his career like Elliot, but then in 1972 that was no fault of his.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby user4 » Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:10 pm

jeremyp wrote:
user4 wrote:What Elliot at 22yrs did on that dirt track in Rome in 1960 simply boggles the mind. Consider that in 1968 on the Mexico City track where Keino has a similar tactic, he only outdoes Elliot by less than 1 second. 1972 nope, 1976, 1980 not even close. It isnt until 1984 (24 years later) that Coe betters by more than a second Elliot's on dirt OG gold. Just maybe one of the greatest raw talents of the 1500m. Watching him makes me wonder, what would he do today at 28yrs at 5000m ?

Consider that Keino did it at altitude. Consider that Ryun, the wunderkind, was whupped. Don't get me wrong I have always been a big fan of Elliot's, but for 2 (1966 (age 19),1967(age 20)) years Ryun was my super hero. A last 300 in 36.4. A last 1,000m in 2.18's. He didn't finish his career like Elliot, but then in 1972 that was no fault of his.


yes, Keino is rightly considered the greatest though I wouldnt give him much credit for the altitude, against that field it may have been an advantage for him. He(68) and Elliot(60) have similar tactics but Elliot is only 22yrs old when he bludgeons that Rome field, Keino was a seasoned vet.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby gh » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:06 pm

jeremyp wrote:...
Consider that Keino did it at altitude....


Given his birth/trainingplace, I'm guessing that the altitude had zero effect on Keino, even at 1500 meters.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby Marlow » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:16 pm

gh wrote:
jeremyp wrote:...
Consider that Keino did it at altitude....

Given his birth/trainingplace, I'm guessing that the altitude had zero effect on Keino, even at 1500 meters.

Oxygen is oxygen. Keino was much less affected to be sure, but UNaffected? That's harder to believe. That 3:34.9 was 3:31.1 equivalent at the least!
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby telf » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:44 pm

I was going to write a long boring piece about Herb's greatness but, given he was never beaten over 1500m/mile in his life and had 17 sub-4s when the feat was a rarity plus his extraordinary feats in Dublin and Gothenborg in '58 plus Rome in '60, I think the facts speak for themselves.

Herb's achievements and world records are all the more extraordinary given the shortness of his career plus the fact that his training was concentrated and targeted rather than consistent and, in addition, he also smoked fairly heavily. I remember almost laughing aloud when I read his quote about him "stopping smoking on December 26th 1959" to prepare for the Olympics.

I have no idea how fast Herb could have run because when he was in peak form no-one else got close to him in a race.

I agree that Jim Ryun & Keino are both miling greats but, for me, Herb is the nonpareil of the event and if he had continued with the sport through to his late 20s then what wonderful things he might have achieved.
Last edited by telf on Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby Conor Dary » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:52 pm

Marlow wrote:
gh wrote:
jeremyp wrote:...
Consider that Keino did it at altitude....

Given his birth/trainingplace, I'm guessing that the altitude had zero effect on Keino, even at 1500 meters.

Oxygen is oxygen. Keino was much less affected to be sure, but UNaffected? That's harder to believe. That 3:34.9 was 3:31.1 equivalent at the least!


We have gone over this countless times. And the consensus was, that I agree with, that Keino was a break even at Mexico City. And remember that time was his PR. To compare it to 3:31 is ludicrous.

And to say Oxygen is oxygen is silly. Being born at altitude is a huge advantage for racing at altitude. Read Åstrand and Rodahl for more on this.

http://www.amazon.com/Textbook-Work-Phy ... and+rodahl
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby spinoza » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:09 pm

telf wrote:
I have no idea how fast Herb could have run because when he was in peak form no-one else got close to him in a race.

I agree that Jim Ryun & Keino are both miling greats but, for me, Herb is the nonpareil of the event and if he had continued with the sport through to his late 20s then what wonderful things he might have achieved.


I remember Cerutty claimed Elliot's real strength lay in distances longer than the mile, and had he kept running, sub 8 for 2 miles was a realistic goal, within Elliot's reach.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:43 am

spinoza wrote:
telf wrote:
I have no idea how fast Herb could have run because when he was in peak form no-one else got close to him in a race.

I agree that Jim Ryun & Keino are both miling greats but, for me, Herb is the nonpareil of the event and if he had continued with the sport through to his late 20s then what wonderful things he might have achieved.


I remember Cerutty claimed Elliot's real strength lay in distances longer than the mile, and had he kept running, sub 8 for 2 miles was a realistic goal, within Elliot's reach.


Cerutty was a bit of a nut.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby deanouk » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:58 pm

What Elliot at 22yrs did on that dirt track in Rome in 1960 simply boggles the mind. Consider that in 1968 on the Mexico City track where Keino has a similar tactic, he only outdoes Elliot by less than 1 second. 1972 nope, 1976, 1980 not even close. It isnt until 1984 (24 years later) that Coe betters by more than a second Elliot's on dirt OG gold. Just maybe one of the greatest raw talents of the 1500m. Watching him makes me wonder, what would he do today at 28yrs at 5000m ?


It was a little more than a second faster that Coe ran in 84. It was over 3 secs.
Elliott's run was magnificent and ahead of his time, but it doesn't follow that had he not retired at 22 he would have improved or got faster. Ryun didn't, Cruz didn't, Borza didn't,....
He retired because he said he couldn't sustain the intensity of training. Perhaps he'd already reached the bottom of the well? The ability to keep going back and finding the desire to maintain the highest standard year after year, for me is as important as achieving that peak in the first place. I wouldn't put Elliott in my top 3 all time milers simply because the longevity wasn't there. He ran few races and had few "greats" to compete against. It's not that impressive that he remained undefeated. Had he ran against Snell in 64 or been in the same era as Ryun and still maintained an undefeated record, then that would have been a different matter.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby telf » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:21 am

by deanouk » Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:58 pm
Perhaps he'd already reached the bottom of the well? The ability to keep going back and finding the desire to maintain the highest standard year after year, for me is as important as achieving that peak in the first place. ..... It's not that impressive that he remained undefeated. Had he ran against Snell in 64 or been in the same era as Ryun and still maintained an undefeated record, then that would have been a different matter.


Interesting perspective re longevity and collateral form. It's a similar argument to the current horse racing debate on Frankel's place in history.

The world changed a lot in the decade between '58 and '68. Very view great athletes spanned more than one Olympiad pre-60 at peak and motivation (money or otherwise) can be hard to find when you are an unfunded academic amateur athlete and you have continually and comprehensibly beaten all your rivals. Herb had a future professional life to lead and he lead it very successfully indeed.

Give me two years of absolute brilliance in the old amateur world over a decade of less brilliant longevity.

Remaining unbeaten at a mile and 1500m in an entire lifetime including when 25 lbs overweight and untrained at Cambridge inter-college meets post '60 is impressive to me (whatever the level of competition).

Collateral form is also difficult to judge given that Herb could only beat the best of his time many of whom would have been much better rated if running in a different time to Elliott.

I would have Snell in my top 5 all time but I felt he slightly tarnished his reputation by running on into (and losing) in '65 which I think he did partly because I think Peter spent a lot of his career trying to get the Herb Elliott 'monkey off his back'.

Ryun was a freak of nature and on a few special days his running burned very brightly indeed.

It is true than some greats don't progress beyond 22 years but the vast majority do especially at a mile and beyond. I am not sure I would have Borza in the same league as the others but there is no doubt that near constant injuries and mononucleosis respectively were responsible for Cruz and Ryun failing to progress post-22.

At the end of the day it is all opinion and for me Herb is the GOAT for 1500m and I believe he had almost limitless potential at 5k and beyond.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby user4 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:25 pm

telf wrote:.... At the end of the day it is all opinion and for me Herb is the GOAT for 1500m and I believe he had almost limitless potential at 5k and beyond.


I think you make the case for Elliot as GOAT for 1500m. Everytime I consider the alternatives they seem to fall short. Ryun was a mega talent but when the chips were down he did not win the big race. Coe is my number 2. I come to the conclusion that Elliot born in 1990, runs today with the best and wins.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby kuha » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:59 pm

Elliott remains the gold standard for 1500m runners. He did it all: WRs in both mile and 1500 and Olympic gold. And both WRs were amazing: the massive lowering of the mile record in Dublin and the 1500 record (his second) in the Rome final. Nothing more could be asked from anyone. Elliott's "never beaten" streak is remarkable, BUT we need to remember that he only competed in 2 full international seasons, 1958 and 1960. The truth is that he probably had more physical up-side, but mentally he was fried from the very tough training. A truly awesome talent and historical giant.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby dukehjsteve » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:34 pm

I agree with kuha ( as always ! ), Elliott is #1, but for ONE single 1500 or mile performance, I still rank Ryun's 1500 win over Keino in 1967 as # 1. He obliterated not only Keino but also the WR by 2.5 seconds, from Elliott's 3:35.6 down to 3:33.1. I watched that race on TV and I'll never forget it. To repeat, #1 performance with me.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby spinoza » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:36 pm

deanouk wrote:
What Elliot at 22yrs did on that dirt track in Rome in 1960 simply boggles the mind. Consider that in 1968 on the Mexico City track where Keino has a similar tactic, he only outdoes Elliot by less than 1 second. 1972 nope, 1976, 1980 not even close. It isnt until 1984 (24 years later) that Coe betters by more than a second Elliot's on dirt OG gold. Just maybe one of the greatest raw talents of the 1500m. Watching him makes me wonder, what would he do today at 28yrs at 5000m ?


[...]
Elliott's run was magnificent and ahead of his time, but it doesn't follow that had he not retired at 22 he would have improved or got faster. Ryun didn't, Cruz didn't, Borza didn't,....
He retired because he said he couldn't sustain the intensity of training. Perhaps he'd already reached the bottom of the well? The ability to keep going back and finding the desire to maintain the highest standard year after year, for me is as important as achieving that peak in the first place. I wouldn't put Elliott in my top 3 all time milers simply because the longevity wasn't there. He ran few races and had few "greats" to compete against. It's not that impressive that he remained undefeated. Had he ran against Snell in 64 or been in the same era as Ryun and still maintained an undefeated record, then that would have been a different matter.


Elliott had such an impact in his time that some of those who might otherwise have been greats, weren't. Merv Lincoln comes to mind. While a fit Elliot was something else, even a less than fit Elliot seemed to simply refuse to loose. It was that characteristic that, apparently, did in Lincoln. It was also that characteristic that gives him, perhaps more than his merely physical gifts, a strong claim for GOAT. On purely physical gifts, Ryun was certainly at least Eliot's equal, but Ryun seemed to lack Elliot's mental toughness or whatever you want to call it.

While Elliot clearly trained hard for blocks of time, I don't believe he did so consistently, year in, year out. If he had, with a different coach perhaps, it's hard to know what he could have done in a future that never was. For that matter, what if he stopped smoking earlier than December '59? :?
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby kuha » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:45 pm

dukehjsteve wrote:I agree with kuha ( as always ! ), Elliott is #1, but for ONE single 1500 or mile performance, I still rank Ryun's 1500 win over Keino in 1967 as # 1. He obliterated not only Keino but also the WR by 2.5 seconds, from Elliott's 3:35.6 down to 3:33.1. I watched that race on TV and I'll never forget it. To repeat, #1 performance with me.


And I agree with this!! That '67 race was absolutely huge.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby Conor Dary » Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:52 pm

kuha wrote:
dukehjsteve wrote:I agree with kuha ( as always ! ), Elliott is #1, but for ONE single 1500 or mile performance, I still rank Ryun's 1500 win over Keino in 1967 as # 1. He obliterated not only Keino but also the WR by 2.5 seconds, from Elliott's 3:35.6 down to 3:33.1. I watched that race on TV and I'll never forget it. To repeat, #1 performance with me.


And I agree with this!! That '67 race was absolutely huge.


And he ran the last 1200 in 2:46.6! Unbelievable.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby user4 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:23 am

dukehjsteve wrote:I agree with kuha ( as always ! ), Elliott is #1, but for ONE single 1500 or mile performance, I still rank Ryun's 1500 win over Keino in 1967 as # 1. He obliterated not only Keino but also the WR by 2.5 seconds, from Elliott's 3:35.6 down to 3:33.1. I watched that race on TV and I'll never forget it. To repeat, #1 performance with me.


Thanks for the reminder, just went back and watched that race. Wow, agree and Ryun does it while making about two tactical mistakes and with no rabbit. In watching that one I do think he could have been Rudisha before Rudisha at 800 . Maybe Ryun should have made his olympic focus on the 800m instead.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby lonewolf » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:07 am

Am I correct in "remembering" that Ryun ran the 200/220 in 21 low? If so,quite a useful ability in running a quality 800/880.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby user4 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:22 pm

lonewolf wrote:Am I correct in "remembering" that Ryun ran the 200/220 in 21 low? If so,quite a useful ability in running a quality 800/880.


I doubt he could run 200m that fast, he seemed too tall and lanky to get going that quickly. However I think had Ryun trained for the 800m at Mexico City, he would have left Doubell and Kiprugut in the dust with 200m to go and won in well under 1:44.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:56 pm

user4 wrote:
lonewolf wrote:Am I correct in "remembering" that Ryun ran the 200/220 in 21 low? If so,quite a useful ability in running a quality 800/880.


I doubt he could run 200m that fast, he seemed too tall and lanky to get going that quickly. However I think had Ryun trained for the 800m at Mexico City, he would have left Doubell and Kiprugut in the dust with 200m to go and won in well under 1:44.


Since Ryun was 7th in the 800 Trials that year, he didn't have much choice.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby telf » Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:10 pm

by Conor Dary » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:56 pm
Since Ryun was 7th in the 800 Trials that year, he didn't have much choice.


Very true but the Ryun of September '68 (and beyond) was a very pale shadow of the Ryun from the summer of '67.

The pre-mono Ryun from '67 was a freak of nature and I can't think of many 1500m/milers before or since who would have challenged him that summer.

Does anyone think that any of the Kenyans today could close out a 3:33.1 1500m with a final 1200m of 2:46.6 or front run a mile in 3:51.1 with a sub-54 last quarter?

Does anyone think Makhloufi or any other current 1500m runner could run a 3:38.2 1500m with a final 300m of 36.4?

I don't.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:33 pm

telf wrote:

Very true but the Ryun of September '68 (and beyond) was a very pale shadow of the Ryun from the summer of '67.


I agree with that completely. The Ryun of 1967 was really something.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby no one » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:33 pm

Ryun: 21.6 for 220yds relay leg (according to The Encyclopedia of Track & Field Athletics).
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby user4 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:03 pm

no one wrote:Ryun: 21.6 for 220yds relay leg (according to The Encyclopedia of Track & Field Athletics).


For a trained miler to run even a 22 second relay leg is simply amazing. I would venture to guess that had he focused solely on the 800 his WR would still be on the top 10 list . I should have trusted the Lonewolf intuition! Makes me wonder if he would not have easily been a 45 second quarter miler in 1966.

Apparently when he broke the WR at 880yds he had a cold/flu and was feeling terrible after just running a 1:51 in the preliminaries just 3 hours earlier. Ryun was the greatest middle distance raw talent that we have ever seen.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby berkeley » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:57 pm

user4 wrote:
dukehjsteve wrote:I agree with kuha ( as always ! ), Elliott is #1, but for ONE single 1500 or mile performance, I still rank Ryun's 1500 win over Keino in 1967 as # 1. He obliterated not only Keino but also the WR by 2.5 seconds, from Elliott's 3:35.6 down to 3:33.1. I watched that race on TV and I'll never forget it. To repeat, #1 performance with me.


Thanks for the reminder, just went back and watched that race. Wow, agree and Ryun does it while making about two tactical mistakes and with no rabbit. In watching that one I do think he could have been Rudisha before Rudisha at 800 . Maybe Ryun should have made his olympic focus on the 800m instead.

I've also just re-viewed the race (thank you, Youtube!). Interesting how Ryun continued to look over his shoulder even in the home straight, with Keino 30 yards behind. The commentator also mentioned that as a result of the race, Keino had decided not to contest the 1500 in Mexico City, but try for a longer distance. I guess he changed his mind after Ryun came down with mono. What might have been with a healthy Ryun rivals the Borzov-Hart what-if from Munich. Sentiment on this thread seems to give it to Ryun.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby kuha » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:39 pm

Is that 1:15 clip the longest available of this race? I'm pretty sure I've never actually seen the entire thing.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby deanouk » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:45 pm

A 21.6 220 relay split is not indicative of a 45 sec quarter miler!
He would have had a rolling start and a hand timed split wouldn't have been particularly accurate. Even if it were, that 21.6 only worth around 22.1 - 22.3 for 200m from a standing start. There have been several milers who have shown equal or better basic speed.
His fastest 440 ever recorded was also in a relay. It was 46.9 or 47.0 depending on what source you trust. Again, that's worth around 47.4 - 47.7 for an open 440, or 47.1 - 47.4 for 400m. Maybe a half second faster on synthetic.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby telf » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:28 am

by deanouk » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:45 pm
A 21.6 220 relay split is not indicative of a 45 sec quarter miler!
He would have had a rolling start and a hand timed split wouldn't have been particularly accurate. Even if it were, that 21.6 only worth around 22.1 - 22.3 for 200m from a standing start. There have been several milers who have shown equal or better basic speed.
His fastest 440 ever recorded was also in a relay. It was 46.9 or 47.0 depending on what source you trust. Again, that's worth around 47.4 - 47.7 for an open 440, or 47.1 - 47.4 for 400m. Maybe a half second faster on synthetic.


Jim's sprint times were achieved in a very different world than today.

Worth remembering that Jim ran the 21.6 split in March 1965 a month before his 18 birthday.

The 46.9 440 relay was in April 1966 (pre 19th birthday) and on the same afternoon he'd just run a world leading 3:55.8 mile on a rain soaked track at Memorial stadium.
In the relay he came from 20 yds back on anchor to lead KU to victory.

For perspective, it is worth noting that only 9 men broke 46s for 400m (including yds conversions) in '65 and only 12 broke 46s in in '66.

Whatever you say about Jim Ryun's legacy as a miler, I can't think of any of the several milers who have shown equal or better basic speed especially given we are going back nearly half a century for Jim.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby Vault-emort » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:46 pm

I love these threads about Jim Ryun......oh wait.. :lol:
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby deanouk » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:49 pm

telf wrote: -
Jim's sprint times were achieved in a very different world than today.

Worth remembering that Jim ran the 21.6 split in March 1965 a month before his 18 birthday.


I just don't think anyone can base a proposed 45 sec 400 ability in one year off a 220yd relay split from a different year!
For a start, was this race televised? Who took the split? Where did they start timing from in the change over zone?
It was obviously hand-timed and they can be out by a couple of tenths. You can't base much on a hand timed relay split with a rolling start. From the blocks this might have been worth anything from 22.1 to 22.6 if the timing were accurate and they timed from the correct point.

Secondly, this sort of performance is not unique. At 17 Ovett was running 22.8 & 48.0 from the blocks. By 18 he had run 47.5 from blocks and at 19 ran 21.7 for 200m. More than comparable to Ryun's relay splits at the same age.

Ovett's stats also show that the presumption Ryun's basic speed improved with age and greater endurance, is not a given. Despite big improvements in 800 - Mile times for Ovett from his late teens to early 20's, his pbs for 200 & 400 remained those he set at 19 and 18 respectively.
There is no evidence that Ryun was any different.

telf wrote:-
The 46.9 440 relay was in April 1966 (pre 19th birthday) and on the same afternoon he'd just run a world leading 3:55.8 mile on a rain soaked track at Memorial stadium.


This is a good example of where so many Ryun anecdotes seem to embellish what happened.
Which source states that the track was rain-soaked? In the account I have there is no mention of rain or bad conditions! Both sources I have (T&FN and the Encyclopedia of Track & Field Athletics, 1981) also state his relay was 47.0, not 46.9!? Which source is accurate, which stat do we believe? Ok, it's only 0.1, but it just seems there are so many contradictory stats involving many of Ryun's races.

telf wrote:-
Whatever you say about Jim Ryun's legacy as a miler, I can't think of any of the several milers who have shown equal or better basic speed especially given we are going back nearly half a century for Jim.


I'd say Ovett showed comparable speed to Ryun over 200 and 400 as a 19 year old, and Coe had better basic speed than Ryun when he was Olympic 1500 champion and Mile world record holder.
He ran a 45.6 relay leg from a stumbling/standing start and easing down at the line, in early 81, just 90 minutes after front running a 1:44.0 800m. This can be found for all to see on Youtube:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhZGonCBaOM

And this was over 30 years ago.

Ryun was way ahead of his time, and had better basic speed than probably all current Milers, but when people start claiming he could have run 45 secs for 400m and run 800m as fast as the current all time top 10, citing 21.6 & 46.9 relay splits as proof, the argument doesn't carry much weight.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby telf » Tue Sep 18, 2012 3:00 am

I just don't think anyone can base a proposed 45 sec 400 ability in one year off a 220yd relay split from a different year!


100% Agree

At 17 Ovett was running 22.8 & 48.0 from the blocks. By 18 he had run 47.5 from blocks and at 19 ran 21.7 for 200m.


Ovett & Coe are the only two other milers who could be considered as having comparable speed to Jim.

Coe was, based on 400m timings, faster than Ovett but I would have backed Ovett to beat Coe over any distance up to 200m when Steve was in prime condition.

Steve was unbeatable on a 200m kick from off a slow/medium pace but, as Cram and others discovered, he was vulnerable to a 300m or greater kick.

The Ovett of ’77 & ’78 was special and many injuries hampered his subsequent career in the same way as mono reduced Ryun from ’68 onwards.

This is a good example of where so many Ryun anecdotes seem to embellish what happened...it's only 0.1, but it just seems there are so many contradictory stats involving many of Ryun's races.


I tend to use newspaper reports and books from the time as a principal source. I can send the track stuff for Memorial if your are really interested?

Jim’s early performances are no more contradictory than most other athletes. I recall that the 21.7 by Ovett in ’75 was not widely known or reported until a long time post the end of his career. Some sites (powerof10) still list 48.4 as Ovett’s best recorded 400m time.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt Steve did run the fast times but it’s unfair and very inconsistent to label Jim’s early performances as contradictory whilst blindly accepting all other performances.

Sometimes you get the impression on these boards that some posters think that hand timing in the '60s and earlier at major US collegiate meets were done by officials eye-balling a wrist watch whereas all hand times from small meets from the '70s onwards were done by Kronos God of Time.
Ryun was way ahead of his time, and had better basic speed than probably all current Milers, but when people start claiming he could have run 45 secs for 400m and run 800m as fast as the current all time top 10, citing 21.6 & 46.9 relay splits as proof, the argument doesn't carry much weight.


Yes I agree 100% with this point and I do understand the frustration some (mostly) non-Americans feel at the perceived deification of Jim Ryun but sometimes we need to stand back and objectively marvel at what Jim achieved in that golden period in ’67.

My personal favourite is not his world records but the final lap kick against the West Germans.

Both Tummler and Norpoth were fine athletes and invariably deadly in a finish but what Jim did to them with his 36.4 final 300m is without equal before or since.

by Vault-emort » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:46 pm
I love these threads about Jim Ryun......oh wait..


Thanks for the insightful (or is it inciteful) contribution :D
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby deanouk » Tue Sep 18, 2012 7:24 am

telf wrote:-
Ovett & Coe are the only two other milers who could be considered as having comparable speed to Jim.


Agreed. Certainly if we're talking 200 to 400m.

telf wrote:-
Coe was, based on 400m timings, faster than Ovett but I would have backed Ovett to beat Coe over any distance up to 200m when Steve was in prime condition.

Steve was unbeatable on a 200m kick from off a slow/medium pace


Have to disagree on that one. Coe ran 21.6 in training at the end of a series of 10. His acceleration off a slow pace was as good as Ovett's and off a fast pace was better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5zTzMciyxw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edz3KXJhu3M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOVrht9WIvE

In my opinion anyway. And of course Coe outkicked Ovett in Moscow 1500.

telf wrote:-
The Ovett of ’77 & ’78 was special and many injuries hampered his subsequent career in the same way as mono reduced Ryun from ’68 onwards.


Yes, Ovett was special in those years, but he was made to look even more special because of the standard of opposition and the fact that the rest of the field invariably played into his hands with slow pace and then a speed up over the last 200m. Moreover, in my mind Ovett was as good if not better in 79 and 80.
As for all these injury problems, when?
He had no major injury problems until after the 81 season had finished. There is no medical/physical reason for him not to have improved (and I think he did, marginally) after 78 until the end of 81. Given, after 81 he was never quite the same again, and after 84 he was certainly finished as one of the world's top 4.

telf wrote:-
I tend to use newspaper reports and books from the time as a principal source. I can send the track stuff for Memorial if your are really interested?


Yes, I would actually! Thanks.

telf wrote:-
Jim’s early performances are no more contradictory than most other athletes. I recall that the 21.7 by Ovett in ’75 was not widely known or reported until a long time post the end of his career. Some sites (powerof10) still list 48.4 as Ovett’s best recorded 400m time.


But Ovett's 21.7 was from the blocks, Ryun's was in a relay!

I think you have mistaken what I mean by contradictory. I don't doubt he ran a relay leg in 21.6/46.9. What is contradictory are the splits he's often credited with. I have recently been having the same discussion on LetsRun, so it is probably easier if I put the same points on here later.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby deanouk » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:48 am

telf wrote: -
Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt Steve did run the fast times but it’s unfair and very inconsistent to label Jim’s early performances as contradictory whilst blindly accepting all other performances.

Sometimes you get the impression on these boards that some posters think that hand timing in the '60s and earlier at major US collegiate meets were done by officials eye-balling a wrist watch whereas all hand times from small meets from the '70s onwards were done by Kronos God of Time.


OK, here's 2 examples:
1) Mile WR 3:51.1. In some reference books, including the "IAAF Progression of World Records (2007)", his last 440 is given as 52.5! In the T&FN book, "The Milers", it is given as 53.7. On the Youtube video he clearly goes through the finish line in 2:57.3, giving him a 53.8.

2) 1500m WR 3:33.1. The IAAF book has his last 300m in 39.6. In fact all the splits they have are in metric, which seems unusual as the track was an imperial 440! The T&FN book gives a last 320yds of 38.1, which works out at 39.3 for 330yds, or 39.1 for 300m. So there is a 0.5 discrepancy there. They state he went through 3/4 in 2:55.0, which is c. 2:54.1 for 1200m, giving a last 300m of 39.0. So it would seem the T&FN book might be correct!?
The IAAF book gives his last 400m as 53.3, whereas the IAAF book says the last 440 was 53.9, which is only 53.6 for 400m. So there is a 0.3 difference there.
T&FN state that his 210yds from 1200m to 1400m was 24.6, which works out at 25.8 for 220yds or 25.6 for 200m. The IAAF book says that he covered these two 100m in 13.0 & 13.1, = 26.1. Again, 0.5 difference.
Finally, they differ by over 1 second on his last 1200m time. The IAAF have it as 2:46.6, while the T&FN book say he covered the last 3/4 in 2:48.7, which works out at 2:47.8 for 1200m
That's just 1 race with 4 quite marked discrepancies.

telf wrote: - My personal favourite is not his world records but the final lap kick against the West Germans.

Both Tummler and Norpoth were fine athletes and invariably deadly in a finish but what Jim did to them with his 36.4 final 300m is without equal before or since.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby deanouk » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:09 pm

Now this is the one I have the most doubt about. The "History of the US Olympic trials" state his last 300m was 36.1! You and the T&FN book I have say it was 36.4. Yet a friend of mine who has seen the video footage in Kansas University's library archive (and he is a massive Ryun fan) wrote:- " Yes, I saw the race back in September 2011 when I was in Lawrence, Kansas for a XC meet. The day before the meet I and a few others went through Kansas University with a phys ed teacher and he took us to an archive section. There were several tapes with footage of past baseball, football(American), games and some track tapes with the majority of the footage being Ryun's races since he is probably KU's greatest ever athlete. On one of the tapes was the Dusseldorf race, and I to was skeptical about the 36.4 300m finish. After timing it I came out with a 37.1 and looking back on it now I think that is probably a bit to fast as well."

I've also seen the last lap quoted as 50.8, 50.6 and even "under 50"

So we have 3 different claims, that differ by 1.0 sec and 2 of those would have been hand times, which are notoriously vague. Without the race actually being available for the wider public to view, any wildly ott claims remain purely myth.
37.1 and 50.8 seem on the generous side, sub 50 and 36.1 are simply impossible and have evolved through word of mouth. In 5 years time someone will likely claim he ran the last 300 in 35 something.

There are so many reported stats from over the years that are wrong and can be proven so by looking at the original recording of the race. As a classic example, Aouita's last 100m in his Nice race was reported as 11.7 at the time. This actually appeared in the pages of AW. I knew straight away that this was impossible in a 3:29. But this was 1985 and the race was seen all around the world within the next few weeks, and is for all to see on YouTube. People, including statisticians (clearly not very good ones) had mistakenly thought the line entering the straight was the 100m line. It was, in fact, the 90m line, and his 100m split was only later rectified as 13.1.
If this could happen in 1985, then it doesn't give ovewhelming confidence in a hand time split taken in 67, which has no video in the general public's domain.
Let's think about it. Kipchirchir ran a 36.7 last 300m in a 3:52 1500m race. He was a 3:30 performer. Do we really think Ryun was capable of a 36.1 in a pace 14 seconds faster? Anyone with a sense of realism would dismiss this out of hand. I have trouble believing even 37.1, but this is at least within the realms of possibility.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby deanouk » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:10 pm

And it's not just me "Ryun bashing", as some of you will think. I don't for one minute believe that Aouita ran a 36.1 last 300m in a 3:34 1500 in Grossetto, Italy in 1984, either!

The idea of anyone running 36.1 at the end of a 3:34 or 3:38 1500m is plainly impossible.
When you think that Ovett ran a 12.0 100m stretch in his 3:34 race, but the last 300m was 39.5 secs, and Coe ran a 12.1 last 100m in Moscow (38.6 last 300m), which is the fastest last 100m in any Championship 1500m, how can anyone believe that 2 men put together that sort of speed for 3 times longer? 300m in 36.1 is 3 lots of 12 secs flat.

The fact that no video exists (or does it?) for either Aouita's or Ryun's 36.1, just adds to the mystery. Athletic publications have timed from the wrong line and given inaccurate splits before now (Aouita's 11.7 a case in point), and it was only because there was video evidence of the race that some saw sense and realised it was taken from 90m and not 100m. If they could be 1.4 secs out in 1985, then there is no reason why they couldn't have been as much as that out in 1967. People quote that Ryun RAN 36.4 or 36.1 in that race without ever having seen the race. Don't always believe what you read in books, however reliable you think they are.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby telf » Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:33 pm

Have to disagree on that one. Coe ran 21.6 in training at the end of a series of 10. His acceleration off a slow pace was as good as Ovett's and off a fast pace was better.
In my opinion anyway. And of course Coe outkicked Ovett in Moscow 1500.


Don't think there was much between them. For me, the visual impression of Ovett's 11.8 100m round the turn in in Dusseldorf in '77 was unforgettable.

The two H2H 800m in Moscow in '80 and Prague '78 were unsatisfactory races but Ovett won them both.

The Moscow 1500m was, for me, a 700m sprint finish courtesy of Jurgen Straub rather than a 200m kick to suit Ovett.

Yes, Ovett was special in those years, but he was made to look even more special because of the standard of opposition and the fact that the rest of the field invariably played into his hands with slow pace and then a speed up over the last 200m. Moreover, in my mind Ovett was as good if not better in 79 and 80.
As for all these injury problems, when?


I recall lots of niggles and some respiratory problems from early '79 until the bad injury in '81. Maybe my memory is failing.

Perhaps Steve was as good in '79 and '80 but I think the Dusseldorf Ovett of '77 and the Rono vanquishing Ovett of '78 could have run much faster than 3:32 in a paced 1500m race.

From my vantage point, the many post '78 victories over the admirable Thom Wessinghage (sometimes by only a few metres) are not in the same league as the pre '79 version of Ovett.

What is contradictory are the splits he's often credited with. I have recently been having the same discussion on LetsRun, so it is probably easier if I put the same points on here later.]


I understand.

Legendary status can lead to hyperbole and there are not many YouTube videos to support Jim.

Jim's dominance over his rivals in '67 was perhaps greater than that enjoyed by any other miler before or since.

In 1967 when Jim ran 3:33.1 and 3:51.1, only seven men broke 3:40 for 1500m and only 2 ran under 3:56 for the mile.

I sympathise, appreciate and am fully aware of the time inconsistencies but they don't diminish my rating of Jim's greatness.

Markings for 440/400 were not great when generating splits in mile races in US in the '60s and the problem was compounded by the 1500m being run rarely.

If I had a $ or a £ for ever incorrectly reported last lap/ final 200m in T&FN and AW over the last forty years I would be a rich man.

Whether 36.1, 36.4 or 37.1 - Jim beat two renowned world class kickers who were in good form by over 30 yds in a sprint finish.

Coe's 21.6 in a training rep set and Ovett's hand time minor meet 21.7 from blocks (which I don't think was reported until over a decade after) are accepted by you as 100% legitimate whilst most major races Ryun ran are questioned based on relatively minor time inconsistencies in final laps.

That's all folks for me on this thread. I am getting creeped out :D
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby lonewolf » Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:57 pm

I don't remember or have access to all of Jim Ryuns stats...I just remember he was a pretty good country runner over a wide range.
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby jmd » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:43 am

Please, be kind with my English, I’m French and my studies are far from now…

Elliott, Ryun, Coe, Ovett…
With those wonderful milers, we are really in the area of myth and legend !

1958 : the 3’40” had just been reached on 1500 m
and the world record was at 3’38”1 by Jungwirth…

Then came Elliott, just 20 years old, and his 3’36”, with a 54” last 400 and
the overall impression that he could not be beaten !

Delany, the 1956 Olympic champion, said something like :
“There’s one way to beat Elliott, it’s by attaching his legs !”

1960 : the same guy came back with 3’35”6, for the Olympic gold
and such an impressive run, reported by everyone and not still forgotten.

Sure, it was another time, with not so much money, advertising or carrier quest !
Nevertheless….

1966 : a wonder kid of 19 years old run 1’44”9 on 880 yards, equalling another myth,
Peter Snell !

1967 : the same kid establishes two new records, 1500 m and the mile !
And a month later, Jim Ryun makes a demonstration of final lap speed against
two German elite runners.
45 years later, we are still admirative about it !
The times are what they are, one, two, three or four 1/10 slower or faster,
I humbly think they still impress everyone even though there was no videos.

1977 to 1984 : a golden generation of British milers equals those legends, beating
a lot of world records and giving us so much interest to their confrontations !
I remember having almost (!!!) run as rapidly than Seb and Steve,
the distance between my office and my house, not to miss the 1500 m final
TV retransmission, in 1980 !

Now, what would have they all done if not ill, not retired, with today conditions, mondo,
dietetics, money, etc…?
No one knows, sure, but still remains the… myths that made us dream,
among some others before, after and, I hope, to come !
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Re: Herb Elliot, 1960 OG 1500m

Postby telf » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:32 am

by jmd » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:43 am
… myths that made us dream,
among some others before, after and, I hope, to come !


A great first post JMD and your English is clear and very easy to understand.

You perfectly encapsulate why I started contributing to this forum.
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