Running had to be an afterthought in the new life that lay ahead for Jim Ryun. He now had a home life. Graduation was rapidly approaching. Ryun contemplated a career in photojournalism. His friendship with ace photographer Rich Clarkson had sparked a desire in Ryun to follow that career path. Take a look at some of Jim's photography and you'll know instantly that he was very talented with a camera.
Everyone wanted a piece of Jim Ryun. The meet promoters wanted him to draw crowds. His coach wanted him to score points. And there in lies the rub. Jim Ryun needed a break. Look back at the tremendous total of quality races he ran from 1966 to 1968. The numbers are jaw dropping. A top miler in this day and age would run half to a third of the number of races Jim Ryun did over that same span.
A tug of war was going on between coach and athlete. Bob Timmons needed Jim Ryun to compete. He expected his athlete to do what he had done over his first three years at Kansas. Ryun knew that the demands of collegiate competition was draining his talent. He had started to listen to the likes of Dr. Jack Daniels and then there was the specter of Mexico City. Timmie's methods hadn't produced Olympic gold. The injuries, illness and failures in Mexico City had all but destroyed the once symbiotic relationship between athlete and coach.
Jim Ryun was burned out. The punishing work to prepare for Mexico City had exacted an incredible toll. The media bashing for bringing home only a silver medal left deep scars. The demands of a no-nonsense coach were simply more than he could bare. It finally showed itself to the public itself at the Drake Relays when Ryun stepped off the track while anchoring the sprint medley relay.
As if to put an exclamation point on it Ryun stepped off the track 2 laps into the mile at the AAU National Championship in Miami. After the race he talked of staleness. I think the Sports Illustrated writer who chronicled the disastrous events in South Florida put it best. Jim Ryun needed to learn the most difficult lesson every runner must learn, how to lose.
It was heartbreaking as a huge fan of Jim Ryun to witness the events from the Olympics the previous fall to the summer meltdown in Miami. It appeared he was ready to get on with the rest of his life. Running was a thing a past. Professional track did not exist and a life away from intervals and grueling tempo runs awaited.
Winter/Spring & Summer 1969
Date Event Time Place Splits
2-8-69 Mile 4:06.2 1st NA
Michigan State Relays East Lansing, MI
3-14-69 2 Mile DNF
Mile ? ? ?
3-15-69 Mile 4:02.6 1st 60.0-2:03.5-3:06.2-4:02.6
NCAA Indoor Championships Cobo Arena Detroit, MI
3-29-69 Mile 4:07.8 1st NA
880 1:51.0 1st NA
K.U. vs. U.C.L.A. Dual Los Angeles, CA
4-11-69 880 1:46.8 3rd (anchor/sprint medley relay)
4-12-69 880 1:47.4 3rd (anchor/2 mile relay)
Texas Relays Austin, TX
4-18-69 Mile 4:01.2 1st (4 mile relay)
4-19-69 Mile 3:57.6 1st (anchor/distance medley relay) 57.8-1:58.7-3:02.0-3:57.6 World Record
Kansas Relays Memorial Stadium Lawrence, KS
4-25-69 Mile 4:11.0 2nd (4 mile relay)
4-26-69 880 DNF (anchor/sprint medley relay)
Drake Relays Des Moines, IA
5-3-69 3 Mile 13:29.3 1st
K.U. vs. S.I.U Carbondale, IL
5-16-69 880 NA 1st prelim NA
5-17-69 Mile 408.9 1st 63.0-2:06.0-3:09.0-4:08.9
880 1:48.7 1st 55.5-1:48.7
Big 8 Outdoors Ames, IA
6-7-69 Mile 3:55.9 1st 62.3-2:010-3:00.7-3:55.9
Coliseum Relays Olympic Coliseum Los Angeles, CA
6-19-69 Mile 4:03.4 1st prelim 62.2-2:04.0-3:06.0-4:03.4
6-21-69 Mile 3:59.3 2nd 60.5-2:02.8-3:03.5-3:59.3
3 Mile DNF
NCAA Outdoor Championships Knoxville, TN
6-28-69 Mile 2nd 4:07.7 prelim NA
6-29-69 Mile DNF
AAU National Championships Miami, FL