Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Ryun Project

15 years ago this month work started on a documentary that I wanted to produce.  The idea came from a good friend, Chris Ronan, who had stumbled upon a massive collection of film chronicling one of our running heroes, Jim Ryun.  The project took more than 18 months  to complete.  It was called “Jim Ryun, America’s Greatest Miler.”  It garnered praise from Track and Field News and was named one of the 10 best movies ever made about running by the website Let’  

Remarkably,  almost 50 years after Ryun started making a name for himself at Wichita East High School, the title still applies.  In the intervening years since Brett Akagi and I put our hearts and soul into the project the only major fact that has changed in the story line of Jim Ryun’s amazing career is that his high school record in the mile no longer stand.  Alan Webb took down Ryun’s 3:55.3 in 2001.  Ryun set his then American and High School record when he beat Olympic Gold Medalist Peter Snell in winning the 1965 AAU National Championship.  Webb ran 3:53.43 on a much faster synthetic track in finishing 4th to world record holder and future Olympic Gold Medalist Hicham El Guerrouj.

Just two months ago the man who coached Ryun to an amazing string of world records, Bob Timmons, was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame.  The documentary was made in part to bring to light Timmons accomplishments and to highlight the enduring relationship between these two men which endured some momentous ups and downs.  Thanks to Coach Timmons I received a great document detailing the statistics behind every race Ryun ran as an amateur.  These stats used to live on another long since gone website.  I will share these important numbers here over the course of the next few weeks.  I start with Ryun’s sophomore year in cross country at Wichita East in 1962.  Enjoy!

Fall 1962 Sophomore Wichita East High School
Date        Event       Time        Place       Location                 Course                                     Event
9-12-62   2 Mile      12:21       12th         Wichita, KS            College Hill Park                   Inter-Class                 
9-14-62   2 Mile      12:11       4th           Wichita, KS            Campus High School              Campus Invitational (B team)
9-24-62   2 Mile      11:42       7th           Wichita, KS            College Hill Park                   SE/Emporia Triangle (B team)
9-28-62   2 Mile      11:23       4th           Wichita, KS            Echo Hills Golf Course            North Invitational (B team)
10-5-62   2 Mile      11:29.1    1st            Prairie Village, KS   Shawnee Mission East             SME Invitational (B team)
10-11-62 2 Mile      10:25       15th          Emporia, KS           Emporia Airport Golf Course    Emporia Invitational (A Team)
10-12-62 2 Mile      10:27       3rd            Wichita, KS           Echo Hills Golf Course            East Invitational (A Team)
10-27-62 2 Mile      10:17       4th            Wichita, KS           Echo Hills Golf Course            Regional
11-3-62   2 Mile      9:51         6th           Emporia, KS           Emporia Airport Golf Course    State Championships

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