Al Lawrence, who represented Australia in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic games, and was the spirit behind the Houston Harriers, has died at the age of 86, of pancreatic cancer. Al was an Olympic bronze medalist, in fact, he gave Australia its first Olympic track medal in 1956, when his homeland hosted the Olympics.
Al Lawrence spent most of the last fifty-seven years in Houston, and contributing mightily to the Houston running scene, including training many for the Chevron Houston Marathon. He died May 15, 2017.
Please keep Al Lawrence, his family, friends and admirers in your thoughts and prayers. Here is a brief synopsis of Al Lawrence long and colorful life.
Al Lawrence took bronze in a gutty 10,000 meters which featured Vladamir Kuts (U.S.S.R) versus Gordon Pirie (GBR) in a stupendous battle for twenty laps, before Pirie fell back, finishing 8th ( Pirie would come back in the 5,000 meters, and take the silver). Al Lawrence, keeping his head, moved through the field, and caught most of the exhausted front runners, taking the bronze in a time of 28:53.59. His time was thirty seconds faster than he had ever run! Al Lawrence had to pull out of the 5,000 meters, with a sore hamstring, due to his outing at the 10,000 meters. Shoes were not that good in 1956, and the tracks were not, well, providing “energy return”, as some like to speak about now.
Al Lawrence moved to the US, competing for the University of Houston, where he won NCAA cross country in 1959-1960. In 1960, he set a 2 mile WR at 8:46 and a three mile WR at AAU Indoor 3 mile in 13:26, just six days later!
Lawrence came back in 1960, running the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and marathon. He did not finish the 10,000m, was dropped in the heats in the 5,000m and was 37th in the marathon. Al Lawrence was a huge part of the Houston, Texas running culture, first with the Houston Harriers, and then, with the Al Lawrence Running Club.
Ron Daws, 1968 U.S. Olympian, wrote about Al Lawrence in his book, Self Made Olympian (1973), discussing Al Lawrence’s fine hill running and down hill running technique. That was how your writer from @runblogrun learned about the amazing Mr. Lawrence, who also wrote the Self Coached Runner.
Here is the Australian Olympic committee link to his life story and news of his death:http://corporate.olympics.com.au/news/allan-lawrence-1930-2017
Video clip of 1956 Melbourne Olympic 10,000m. Copyright remains with the IOC. Here is link: http://corporate.olympics.com.au/aocMedia/video/A8492BC0-088F-11E3-8B22005056A37760
In 2016, Al Lawrence was inducted into the Houston Marathon Hall of Fame, here is the fine story: http://stylemagazine.com/news/2016/dec/06/olympic-medalist-al-lawrence-inducted-houston-mara/?page=1