Tuesday, July 4, 2017

My Choice Of The Hardest Track Race* And Maybe We Are All Wrong!

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I received quite a few responses to the query of "What is the hardest track event?"  Some came via the Facebook site, some in comments and others in personal contact from the hermits among our group.  The various nominations included:
  • 800M, specifically an all-out for time race.
  • 400M
  • 3000M Steeplechase
  • 400M Intermediate Hurdles
  • Pole Vault.  (Even though we hadn't originally included field!)
I have done most of those events (or tried to) and here are my remembrances:
  1. 800M - This was always easy for me, but I must admit I never really tried to run an all-out 800M.  In high school, I always ran at least 3 events and sometimes 4.  Several times, I ran 2 1:59/2:00 880Y's on the same day, less than an hour apart, along with a mile and 2-mile thrown in. I won every 1/2 mile I ran Senior year except the last one I tanked so a friend could win his only race of his career.  Had to run 2:06 that day.  The Gist: Not the hardest, but I can see it being brutal for the likes of Cas Loxsom, Brannon Kidder, Ryan Foster, Owen Dawson and Isaiah Harris!  
  2. 400M - The only timed 400M I ever ran (although it was regularly used as a threat by my high school coach) was on the Nittany Lion Track during a work-out.  Coach Groves made us start out with an all-out 400M in lanes and everything! I tied with the known speedster John Zeigler in 54.3.  I know, quite pitiful.  I remember it hurting like crazy for more than 150M, even as I thought I held form quite well. Took quite a while to feel better, too.  Can't imagine what it feels like for the best.  The Gist: I can see this as the hardest of races.
  3. 3000M Steeplechase - Ran a bunch of these at all-comers meets in Millersville. I had never even jumped over a hurdle before I tried it.  I am a terrible hurdler, although I am tremendous on the water jump.  Because of that, I created a technique for just tapping the barriers with one foot to clear it without actually stepping on it like with the water jump.  I never was coordinated enough to do it with either foot reliably, so it didn't always help much.  My best race was actually in front of Arthur Lydiard and Heather Carmichael.  Mr. Lydiard actually praised me for my waterjump technique and had me run a warm-down with Heather who was in the States to find a college to attend.  That she ended up coming to PSU may partially be because of me.  Although we were friends, I never asked her about that.  But she did make me a pair of mittens for Christmas that I still have and used to run winter runs with.  The Gist: a very hard race, but the risk of injury and difficulty of hurdling made it hard for me to max out my endurance.  The top guys, of course, get closer to max, but even then most of them never look "all in" when they are done.
  4. 400M Hurdles - Combine a miserable distance with hurdles that are still way too high and I can see this as a very hard race.  The Gist:  Never ran it and never will, so I will never know!
  5. Pole Vault - Back in my lithe youth, I couldn't even carry a 16 foot pole down the runway and wouldn't know what to do with it if I could.  The Gist:  This was the hardest event of all.
But it is possible that all of us are wrong. Possibly, this is the hardest race of all.  Mostly because marriage is just an entry requirement!

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