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RON RUNS THE WORLD RAGGED

July 26, 1965
July 26, 1965

Table of Contents
July 26, 1965

Beat America
Boating
Horse Racing
Jouncy Journey

RON RUNS THE WORLD RAGGED

In an unprecedented 51-day tour of the U.S. and Europe, Australia's Ron Clarke has set four world records in the course of winning 13 of 17 races. He also has shaken up philosophers of distance running

By Gwilym S. Brown

Ron Clarke insists that he runs for fun—and if he does, he has had a lot of fun this summer, much of it at the expense of the people who update track and field books. An also-ran in Tokyo, where he was a pre-Olympic favorite in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, the tall Australian accountant with the Rolls-Royce stride set out in June to correct a few false impressions. Sensational is a pusilanimous word to describe what happened next.

This is an article from the July 26, 1965 issue Original Layout

On a 51-day tour of the U.S. and Europe, just completed, Clarke ran 17 races, won 13 (twice he took on France's red-hot Michel Jazy at shorter distances to get competition), obliterated four world records (two of them twice) and established an entirely new school of philosophy about distance running. "Watching Clarke set his record in Oslo," said Billy Mills, who beat Clarke in Tokyo, "makes one understand that there is a revolution going on."

The 28-year-old Clarke launched his uprising in Los Angeles on June 5 when he ran three miles in 13:00.4 and 5,000 meters in 13:25.8. The old 5,000-meter record of 13:35 had belonged for eight years to Russia's Vladimir Kuts (see box at right), before Clarke clipped it a couple of times himself in January and February while warming up for his grand tour. As it turned out, Los Angeles was a form of warmup, too.

On June 16, while most of trackdom's attention was concentrated on France, where Jazy was gloriously assaulting the one-and two-mile distances, Clarke set a new 10,000-meter record of 28:14. Three weeks later in London (there was some business to be conducted for his firm back home, which accounts for the gap between records), Clarke improved his three-mile world record by eight seconds in a performance that Britons hailed as a "feat way out in front of Roger Bannister's first sub-four-minute mile." If that impressed them they should have been in Oslo, Norway, four nights later.

The weather was comfortably cool but the track only moderately fast when Clarke and two others, Jim Hogan of Ireland and Claus Boersen of Denmark, jogged up to the starting line for the 10,000-meter run. Clarke immediately jumped well out in front of the other two, perhaps prompted by his prerace announcement that he intended to set some world records. Running alone and paced only by the cheers of 21,000 Norwegians, not a word of which he could understand, Clarke sped past the blinking timers stationed at the six-mile mark in 26:47, lowering a 17-day-old record (set by Billy Mills and Gerry Lindgren at the National AAU championships in San Diego) by a thumping 24.6 seconds. At the end of another 376 yards Clarke burst through the 10,000-meter tape in 27:39.4, reducing his own world record for that distance by an even more astonishing 34.6 seconds.

The significance of this series of performances is inescapable: Ron Clarke has discovered a new approach to long-distance running. He trains hard, of course—three workouts a day that cover approximately 22 miles—but the training is meaningless to him if he cannot compete constantly. As a result, Clarke has been able to prove that a runner can train hard and often, race hard and often and keep improving. A distance runner, Clarke believes, does not need to reach a climactic peak and then tail off like a bird with a broken wing. He has proved that where world distance-running records are concerned there is no foreseeable limit. Clarke, in fact, shrugs off the recent performances that have made the rest of the track world goggle-eyed.

"Other people just haven't tried hard enough," he says. "A lot of them can run as fast as I do. I'm no freak. In two years quite a few fellows will be running fast races without causing a sensation."

Clarke, who is swarthy, dark-haired and intense, would love to convince people that for him training and racing are nothing but a delightful hobby.

"I eat and live like ordinary people," Clarke says. "I make no sacrifices. For me, training and competition are recreation. Most people think we runners are more dedicated than we really are."

Seems simple enough. Run 22 miles a day, race twice a week and whistle while you work. Then stand back and watch the records come clattering down.

View this article in the original magazine

PHOTOMoving at top speed, Clarke heads toward two more records in a single race in Oslo, Norway.

THE DRAMATIC REDUCTION IN TIMES FROM NURMI TO CLARKE
Since the days when the great Finnish Olympian held all four of the world's major records for distance running there has been an extraordinary decrease in times. No runner, not even Zatopek or Kuts, has lowered them quite so fast as Ron Clarke

5,000 METERS

14:35.4

Paavo Nurmi, Finland

1922

14:28.2

Paavo Nurmi

1924

14:17

Lauri Lehtinen, Finland

1932

14:08.8

Taisto Maki, Finland

1939

13:58.2

Gunder Hagg, Sweden

1942

13:57.2

Emil Zatopek, Czechoslovakia

1954

13:56.6

Vladimir Kuts, U.S.S.R.

1954

13:51.6

Chris Chataway, Great Britain

1954

13:51.2

Vladimir Kuts

1954

13:50.8

Sandor Iharos, Hungary

1955

13:46.8

Vladimir Kuts

1955

13:40.6

Sandor I haros

1955

13:36.8

Gordon Pirie, Great Britain

1956

13:35

Vladimir Kuts

1957

13:34.8

Ron Clarke, Australia

1/16/65

13:33.6

Ron Clarke

2/1/65

13:25.8

Ron Clarke (Los Angeles)

6/5/65

10,000 METERS

30:40.2

Paavo Nurmi, Finland

1921

30:35.4

Ville Ritola, Finland

1924

30:23.2

Ville Ritola

1924

30:06.2

Paavo Nurmi

1924

30:05.6

Ilmari Salminen, Finland

1937

30:02

Taislo Maki, Finland

1938

29:52.6

Taislo Maki

1939

29:35.4

Viljo Heino, Finland

1944

29:28.2

Emil Zatopek, Czechoslovakia

1949

29:27.2

Viljo Heino

1949

29:21.2

Emil Zatopek

1949

29:02.6

Emil Zatopek

1950

29:01.6

Emil Zatopek

1953

28:54.2

Emil Zatopek

1954

28:42.8

Sandor Iharos, Hungary

1956

28:30.4

Vladimir Kuts, U.S.S.R.

1956

28:18.8

Pyotr Bolotnikov, U.S.S.R.

1960

28:18.2

Pyotr Bolotnikov

1962

28:15.6

Ron Clarke, Australia

1963

28:14

Ron Clarke

6/16/65

27:39.4

Ron Clarke (Oslo)

7/14/65

3 MILES

14:11.2

Paavo Nurmi, Finland

1923

13:50.6

Lauri Lehtinen, Finland

1932

13:42.4

Taisto Maki, Finland

1939

13:35.4

Gundar Hagg, Sweden

1942

13:32.2

Freddie Green, Great Britain

1954*

13:32.2

Chris Chataway, Great Britain

1954*

13:27.4

Vladimir Kuts, U.S.S.R.

1954

13:27

Vladimir Kuts

1954

13:26.4

Vladimir Kuts

1954

13:23.2

Chris Chataway

1955

13:14.2

Sandor Iharos, Hungary

1955

13:10.8

Albert Thomas, Australia

1958

13:10

Murray Halberg, New Zealand

1961

13:07.6

Ron Clarke, Australia

1964

13:00.4

Ron Clarke (Los Angeles)

6/5/65

12:52.4

Ron Clarke (London)

7/10/65

6 MILES

29:36.4

Paavo Nurmi, Finland

1930

29:08.4

Ilmari Salminen, Finland

1937

28:56.6

Taisto Maki, Finland

1939

28:38.6

Viljo Heino, Finland

1944

28:30.8

Viljo Heino

1949

28:19.4

Gordon Pirie, Great Britain

1953

28:08.4

Emil Zatopek, Czechoslovakia

1953

27:59.2

Emil Zatopek

1954

27:54

David Stephens, Australia

1956

27:43.8

Sandor Iharos, Hungary

1956

27:17.8

Ron Clarke, Australia

1963

27:11.6

Billy Mills, U.S.

6/27/65*

27:11.6

Gerry Lindgren, U.S.

6/27/65*

26:47

Ron Clarke (Oslo)

7/14/65

*same race