Bob Henry’s mile record time of 4:41.5 was bettered twice, first by Gary Peterson in 1966 with a time of 4:38.9 and then by Gary’s brother Stan with a time of 4:36.3 in 1968. Because of the statewide conversion to the metric system in 1980, that last mile time by Stan Peterson, along with a host of others—at various other distances — still stand alongside Bob’s 880 mark. Later on, there will be a complete list of every male record holder for these two track measurement eras.
A question which might now be in some minds is whether there is a way to make some kind of comparison between the former yardage era and the current metric distances — such as 880 yards versus 800 meters? The answer is a resounding yes — but under a cloud of variables which makes a clear evaluation much like, shall we say, comparing apples and oranges, as the old cliché goes. Why this is so should be evident shortly. The following information alongside the names of each running event record holder — in next week’s episode — will include more than the ordinary data such as distance and time. It also will include both average speed and the difference in feet between each corresponding event.
For instance, the difference between 100 meters and 100 yards is 28 feet — the only track event here which has the greater distance on the meter side, by the way. Take for example the mile run or the 220 yard dash, the former is 32 feet farther than the 1,600 meter run and the latter is 4 feet farther than the 200 meter dash. (Take note that no field events such as high jump, discus or triple jump will be included in this scrutiny, for the numbers used in these events have not been changed, therefore are still in feet and inches, so there is no danger of those records going by the wayside).
As you examine the following figures, keep in mind — as alluded to earlier — that what you see is not necessarily conclusive as to which runner, in his prime, would defeat the other at either of the comparable distances. For instance, you will soon notice that average speeds almost always drop as the course gets longer — I feel that this should be considered significant.
It being necessary to include a few more words, in this episode, at this favorable break-off point, now is a good place to explain my decision not to mention girl track stars in this account. The simple reason is that some of the information for the yardage era has been lost! So in fairness to all the girls concerned, nothing should appear in this column until all data is compiled. Is there anyone who can help me locate the missing pieces?
To be continued …
May light for your feet guide you on the path of life until we meet again.