This supplement two to Day 1 has personal meaning to me due to its reverence to Ron Clarke, not only the finest distance man of his generation, but also the man who put the Scandivavian circuit into being with his 30-35 races a year in the 1960s across Europe. I was told a poingant story, of an Aussie medical team member, standing over a prostrate Ron Clarke, tongue swollen, nearly unable to breathe…
I shared a meal with Ron Clarke and Derek Clayton in the late 1980s, in Boston, and it was a lifetime experience. (intro by runblogrun)
Thanks Mike Fanelli for honoring the late Ron Clarke.
CLARKE COLLAPSES...in an earlier posting on this the 50th anniversary of the Mexico City 10,000, we discussed the medalists… but perhaps an even more significant story took place a little further back. Ron Clarke, arguably the finest distance runner to roam the planet, had taken five months off in order to prepare at altitude in both France and the United States leading up to the 1968 Olympiad. Alas, no amount of acclimatization could adequately close the gap between a flatlander’s ability to transport oxygen with the same efficiency as those who had spent an entire lifetime living at mile high elevations.
With 4 laps to go, the awesome Aussie was with the lead pack…they had been running 71-73 seconds per lap and Clarke felt fairly fantastic. Mamo Wolde shifted it down to 68.4 and backed it up with 69…Clarke was still there. However, when Naftali Temu turned the 24th circuit in 64.4, Clarke’s world was turned upside down.
Said Ron: “I just had a lap to go then, but I was really suffering…I went from running as easily as I’ve ever had in my life to suddenly suffering in virtually just 200 metres – the straight seemed to take forever. I just remember people passing me. I remember the tape…and I just couldn’t get there. [I] was just crawling to it. I think it was about a 95-second lap and I was running, what, 68 second laps or 66 second laps so it was about 30 seconds slower and it must have all have been in that last 200 metres.”
Afterwards, he lay on the track totally unconscious for nearly 10 minutes. He was administered oxygen via a face mask. It wasn’t a pretty sight to see the world record holder as fallen soldier. But Clarke was one tough son of a bitch…and a few days later, bravely raced again in the 5,000 meters.
He left Mexico without a medallion, and instead with a broken heart…figuratively and, as diagnosed in 1972, literally.
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