Monday, February 20, 2012

The Ryun Project - 11

The comeback of America's greatest miler was major news in the winter of 1971.  Jim Ryun selected an indoor meet at San Francisco's Cow Palace to return to the world of competitive racing.  He did it with rather unremarkable 4:04.4.  But it was a win and it was a first step of putting the ghosts of 1969 behind him and a chance at Olympic redemption in Munich the following year.

A month later he ran another mile this time fast enough to tie the existing indoor world record hitting 3:56.4 on the boards in San Diego.  That race made it clear to the world that Ryun was back and ready to do battle with the world's best.

The 1971 Kansas Relays was the first time in my life that I would get to see Jim Ryun run the mile in person.  It was an unpressed, impressive 3:55.8.  It helped set the stage for one of the biggest races in Ryun's career and most importantly the greatest mile race ever run in the United States.  For this young 9th grader of dreamed of becoming a good high school miler it was an amazing Saturday afternoon.  Fortunately I would have a chance to see Jim run a few more times before he gave up his amateur status.

The KU Relays mile would build upon the drama for Ryun's next race against his top American nemesis, Villanova senior Marty Liquori.  The race on May 16th was ballyhooed as "The Mile of the Century."  It received about as much hype as the sporting press was capable of generating at that time.  And in this instance, the race lived up to the hype.  Liquori managed to take the sting out of Ryun's lethal kick by pushing the pace over the last half mile.  Marty would win by a couple of steps and it clearly stamped Liquori as the number 1 miler in the world.

Ryun wasn't the same after that race through the rest of that year.  Allergies were mainly to blame for his poor performances.  He cut short his season and began building a base phase of training to prepare him for the Olympic Games.  1971 showed that Jim Ryun was back and in a big way and clearly a serious contender for gold at the Munich Games.

Winter/Spring/Summer&Fall 1971

Date       Event      Time       Place      Splits
1-22-71   Mile        4:04.4      1st            62.0-2:07.0-3:08.3-4:04.4
Examiner Invitational         Cow Palace            San Francisco, CA
2-19-71   Mile       3:56.4      1st            60.0-2:00.0-3:00.0-3:56.4  World Indoor Record
San Diego Invitational       San Diego, CA
3-28-71   2 Mile     8:37.0      3rd            4:12.0-8:37.0 3000 8:07.0                         
Auckland International      Auckland, New Zealand
4-17-71   Mile        3:55.8      1st            62.5-2:01.9-3:01.1-3:55.8
Kansas Relays      Memorial Stadium              Lawrence, KS
5-1-71     5000        13:59.4    1st            4:32.0-9:05.0-13:33.0-13:59.4
Vancouver Invitational       Vancouver, British Columbia Canada
5-16-71   Mile        3:54.8      2nd           61.1-2:02.5-3:00.0-3:54.8
Freedom Games  Philadelphia, PA
6-7-71     Mile        4:07.6      10th          61.1-2:01.5-3:02.4-4:07.6
Oregon Twlight     Hayward Field      Eugene, OR
6-12-71   800          1:49.3      1st            26.5-55.0-1:23.0-1:49.3
Area AAU                               Hayward, CA
7-6-71     Mile        4:17.5      10th          NA
Stockholm, Sweden
7-14-71   880          1:49.0      5th           
Oslo, Norway
10-2-71   4.5 Mile  22:24       1st
All-Comers USCB Campus
10-16-71 4.9 Mile  24L54.5   1st           
All-Comers UCSB Campus
11-6-71   6 Mile     29:57       2nd
All-Comers UCSB Campus
11-27-71 10,000 meters       DNF

No comments:

Post a Comment