Monday, February 13, 2012

The Ryun Project - 7

How do you top a year like Jim Ryun enjoyed in 1966?  Ryun's freshman year ended with a slew of records and awards.  He was without a doubt the top amateur athlete in the United States.  Ryun was an athletic superstar when track and field could still garner headlines across America.

So going into his sophomore year at the University of Kansas the quest would begin in earnest to become the first miler to run 1760 yards under 3:50.  Jim came tantalizing close when he set his second world record in the mile running a near solo effort in capturing his 3rd AAU National Championship for the mile in Bakersfield.  One can't help think with a little help with the pace in the early going and his effortless 3:51.1 would have been just a click or two under 3:50.

The year would also begin the serious work of preparing for racing at altitude.  The Mexico City Olympics were just a year away and top distance runners knew that racing at altitude posed some terrible difficulties.  Little was known about racing at altitude.  Coach Bob Timmons believed it was mostly psychological.  But other experts knew better and Ryun was taking notice.

The benefits of altitude training showed itself in full glory when Ryun dispatched Kip Keino in Los Angeles in a world record 1500.  It was his third individual world record for 1967 to go along with his mark in the 880 and the mile.  Ryun looked unstoppable and marked himself as the man to beat for gold in Mexico City.

1967 stands as the greatest year of racing ever by an American middle distance runner.  In the course of eight months Ryun ran a staggering 47 races.  That's a mountain of racing to go along with the high intensity training that Timmons doled out to his distance runners.

For the second year in a row Jim Ryun was named Athlete of the Year by Track and Field News.  He was going into 1968 as the heavy favorite to win gold at the Mexico City Olympics in the 1500.  Unfortunately very few journalists who covered the sport and the fans who followed it understood the daunting prospect that racing at 7350 feet posed for distance runners used to running and racing at sea level.

Winter/Spring & Summer 1967

Date       Event      Time       Place      Splits
1-21-67   Mile        4:02.6      1st            NA
Los Angeles Invitational    Los Angeles, CA
1-27-67   1000 yds 2:09.9      1st           NA
Oregon Invitational             Portland, OR
2-3-67     Mile        4:09.2      1st            NA
                880          1:52.8      1st            NA
S.I.U. vs. KU Dual  Allen Field House               Lawrence, KS
2-11-67   Mile        4:03.7      1st            NA
                880          1:48.5      1st            NA (anchor/2 mile relay)
Michigan State Relays        East Lansing, MI
2-15-67   600 yds   1:14.2      5th            NA
                880          1:56.3      1st            NA
Oklahoma State vs. K.U.      Allen Field House               Lawrence, KS
2-18-66   2 Mile     8:44.2      1st            2:07.5-4:21.5-6:38.0-8:44.2
                880          1:48.3      1st            53.0-1:48.3
Kansas Federation              Allen Field House               Lawrence, KS
3-3-67     880          1:54.6      1st            prelim NA
3-4-67     Mile        3:58.8      1st            58.2-1:59.6-3:01.0-3:58.8
                880          1:50.7      1st            NA
Big 8 Indoor          Municipal Auditorium        Kansas City, MO
3-9-66     880          1:55.3      2nd           prelim NA
Mile        4:08.0      1st            prelim NA
880          1:50.7      2nd           53.0-1:50.7
3-10-67   Mile        3:58.6      1st            58.0-2:01.5-3:02.9-3:58.6
NCAA Indoor          Cobo Arena   Detroit, MI
3-25-67   Mile        4:05.1      1st            NA
                880          1:48.1      1st            NA
K.U. vs. U.C.L.A. Dual            Los Angeles, CA
3-31-67   880          1:46.1      1st            (anchor/sprint medley relay) World Record
4-1-67     Mile        4:04.1      1st            NA
Texas Relays         Austin, TX
4-8-67     100 yds   10.4         7th            NA
1320        3:00.9      1st            NA (distance medley relay)
Southwestern Relays          Lafayette, LA
4-15-67   880          1:50.9      1st            NA
Mile        4:11.1      1st            NA
K.U./Texas A&M/New Mexico Triangle             Albuquerque, NM
4-22-67   Mile        3:54.7      1st            57.9-1:58.4-2:58.6-3:54.7
                440          47.0         1st            (mile relay)
Kansas Relays      Memorial Stadium              Lawrence, KS
4-28-67   Mile        3:59.1      1st            (4 mile relay) last 440 54.0
                880          1:50.8      7th            (2 mile relay)
4-29-67   Mile        3:55.6      1st            56.8-1:59.3-3:01.7-3:55.6 (anchor/distance medley relay) World Record
Drake Relays        Des Moines, IA
5-13-66   Mile        4:14.6      1st            NA
                880          1:53.6      1st            NA
                440          48.0         1st            (mile relay)
K.U. vs. Oklahoma Dual      Norman, OK
5-19-67   880          1:52.6      1st            NA
5-20-67   Mile        4:08.5      1st            NA
880          1:49.1      1st            NA
440          47.0         3rd            (mile relay)
Big 8 Outdoors      Norman, OK
6-2-67     Mile        3:53.2      1st            57.6-1:58.2-2:58.0-3:53.2
Compton Relays Olympic Coliseum  Los Angeles, CA
6-9-67     880          1:47.2      1st            NA
6-10-67   Mile        4:09.3      1st            57.8-1:58.6-3:02.8-4:02.8
USTFF Championships        Albuquerque, NM
6-15-67   Mile        4:09.6      1st            prelims NA
6-17-67   Mile        4:03.5      1st            3:10.9-4:03.5 last 220 23.9
NCAA Championships         Provo, UT
6-22-67   Mile        4:07.5      1st           
6-23-67   Mile        3:51.1      1st            59.2-1:59.0-2:57.6-3:51.1 World Record
AAU National Championships          Bakersfield, CA
7-9-67     1500        3:33.1      1st            60.9-1:57.7-2:55.0-3:33.1 World Record (2:46.6 last 1200)
Commonwealth vs. U.S.A.   Los Angeles, CA
8-12-67   Mile        3:56.0      1st            60.7-2:03.03:02.2-3:56.0
U.S.A. vs. Great Britian        London, England
8-17-67   1500        3:38.2      1st            last 440 50.2
U.S.A. vs. West Germany     Dusseldorf, West Germany
8-19-67   5000        13:47.8    1st            3 mile 13:21.0 enroute
U.S.A. vs. Italy       Viareggio, Italy

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