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March 13, 1970 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-03-13

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Page Ten


Friday, March 13, 1970

.ae.e .E.I HI A N D IL ri ay.ar h 3 1 7








Daily-Dave BeaU
WOLVERINE THINCLAD Eric Chapman follows teammate Paul
Armstrong (left) around the turn in a meet against Miclhgan
State at Yost Field House earlier this season. Armstrong finished
second in the contest while Chapman placed third.


the long jump and triple jump,
while John Mann will be com-'
peting in the high jump. Rus-
sell was third in the NCAA meet
in the long jump two years ago
and could have as similar per-
formance this year.
Mann has gone 6'11" in the
high jump so far this season
and this jump puts him among
the top ten high-jumpers in
the country. Mann's best asset
is that he has been consistent
in every meet of the season so
far, jumping 6'10" in every meet
until last weekend when he
went 6'11".

In two other events, Godfrey
Murray is entered in the 60-
yard high hurdles and John
Thornton is entered in the 1000-
yard run. Murray has run :07.2
for the highs, equaling the
present Michigan varsity record.
Meanwhile, Thornton will be
running in the 100-yard ,run
against some pretty stiff com-
petition. His best time so far
this season has been a respect-
able 2:12.7 which compares to
the varsity record time of 2:07.8
set by Olympian Ron Kutschin-
ski last year.

Now MediKcar
older Voiks.

on this and that
The road ends,
the running stops
eric siegel
THE '69-70 INDOOR TRACK season draws to a close with the
NCAA championships at Cobo Hall this weekend, but the
man who won the mile event last year in these same cham-
pionships will not be competing.
Jim Ryun, 22 years and a senior at the University of Kan-
sas and, quite probably, the greatest long - distance runner of
our time, is no longer a member of that rather elite slice of
American society known as "athletic stars."
Ryun's"fall from the ranks of the stars cannot, however,
really be considered a tragic one. Ryun is no longer a track
star because he doesn't want to be one. This statement is not
meant to be taken as a criticism of the runner or the man. It
should be taken nore as a statement of some of the agencies of
being an amateur athlete in a sport in which there is no pro
As long ago as July 17, 1966, when he broke the world
record for the mile by more than two seconds with a time
of 3:51.3, Ryun was more despondent than delighted. He
said that mile would be his last for the year, that he was
"looking forward to when I can be human again ... there
are so many things you can't do in training."
Ryun took some time off, but Oe came back. He came back
to take two-tenths of a second off his record less than a year
later, to consistently break the four minute mark, to win a silver
medal for the 1500-meter run in the 1968 Olympics.
Then last year, in , the NCAA indoor championships, with
his feet taped and bandaged, Ryun again came back, winning
the mile run Saturday afternoon after his blistered feet forced
him to drop out of the two mile run Friday night.
A couple of months later, at the beginning of June, it was
intimated that marriage, injuries and other problems had put
Ryun at the end of his career. Ryun said nothing about the in-
timations. He merely stopped out on the track at the Compton
Relays in California, and with his graceful powerful, but
seemingly effortless stride won the mile with the fastest time
of the year, 3:55.9.
Still, there were indications even then that the curtain
was falling on Ryun's career. Compared to his earlier years,
Ryun was running less; even more important, he was getting
less enjoyment out of the sport. When, on July 1 of last
year, he announced that he had cancelled his European tour
with the AAU and all other competition for the season, he
"When you compete for several years in a sport that re-
quires great mental effort, you can't help being mentally tired
once in a while, especially after an Olympic year."
To those who had followed Ryun's career, the amazing
thing was not that he was complaining of mental fatigue, but
that the war -weariness of eight years of competition in the
world's loneliest sport hadn't worn him out earlier. At the peak
of his career, he was, running 90, sometimes 100 miles a week;
even after he was married and holding down a job, he ran at
least 21/2 hours a night, seven days a week.
Ryun's races were of shorter distances, ,and shorter times.
As a student at East Witchita High School in 1965, he set an
American citizens mark in the mile with a time of 3:55.3. As
a freshman at the U of K, a year later he came within one-
tenth of a second of the world's record with a time of 3:55.7.
Five days later, he set the world's record for the half mile. His
time was 1:44.9.
It was almost inevitable that Ryun would become sort of a
prototype legend. He came along when American track needed
him most-when it was in the midst of an AAT-NCAA fued for
the control of the sport. He loped and then sprinted onto the
track scene when America was a country in search of a long
distance star. There was Bob Hayes in the sprints; John Pennel
and Bob Seagren in the pole vault; Bob Boston in the long jump;
and Randy Matson, shot put. But the long distance runners were
Ron Clarke of Australia and Michel Jazy of Franco, and Amer-
ica, with her peculiar emphasis on nationalism, saw this as a
personal affront.
Ryun also developed something of a "Ryun style" years
before anyone thought of applying "style" to Jean-Claude
Killy or anyone else. The Ryun style seemed simple: stay
back, conserve your strength, then put on a final burst of
speed; but Ryun was the only one who could carry it out.
The question with Ryun, like the question with all sports
stars, is how long will the legend last? Even now, .only a few
months after his last race, he is already beconing something
of a forgotten man. Kip Keine, a spiffy distance man from
Kenya, Marty Liquori, a Villanova Olympian who finished second
to Ryun at Cobo last year but now holds the distinction as
America's top miler, have become the hot names in the long
distance field.
Meanwhile, Ryun is living the way he wants to, quietly setting
his own pace. He has switched his college major from business to
photography, and is trying to complete his requirements by
June. Maybe someday he'll be able to take a picture of someone
who runs like he di. It was one of the most beautiful sights
in sports.

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