Racing Past

The History of Middle and Long Distance Running

Racing Past - Articles - profile

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Jack Lovelock

PROFILE: JACK LOVELOCK  1910-1949   An Olympic champion and Mile WR holder, this New Zealander dedicated himself to becoming a complete runner. He applied a professional attitude to an amateur activity. According to Jerry Cornes, the President of Oxford University AC when Lovelock arriv...

Roger Bannister

Profile: Roger Bannister  b. 1929   Roger Bannister’s name is synonymous with the four-minute mile. Why was he the first to break through this psychological and symmetric athletic barrier of four laps at a minute each? There were certainly some before him who were physically capabl...

Pyotor Bolotnikov

PYOTR BOLOTNIKOV b. 1930-2013   Pyotr Bolotnikov was a worthy successor to his countryman Vladimir Kuts. This tough Russian competitor set two WRs for 10,000 and won Olympic and European gold medals. Bolotnikov’s tough childhood formed his personality. He lost his mother ...

Percy Cerutty

PERCY CERUTTY 1895-1975   To call Percy Cerutty passionate would be an understatement. To call Percy Cerutty eccentric would also be an understatement. To call Percy Cerutty a deep thinker would be accurate.  To call Percy Cerutty an inspirational coach would be accurate t...

Chris Chataway

CHRIS CHATAWAY 1931-2014    Not quite as talented as Roger Bannister, the cigarette-smoking Chris Chataway relied heavily on his exceptional determination to become one of the most respected runners of his generation. While the general public remembers him as the main pacemaker for the ...

Herb Elliott

Profile: Herb Elliott  b. 1938      The bare facts of Herb Elliott’s career say it all: unbeaten over One Mile and 1,500; Olympic 1,500 champion in WR time; and Empire Games double champion. He was one of the greatest runners of the twentieth century. Something of the u...

Jack Holden

PROFILE: JACK HOLDEN 1907-2004   Of the many great runners that England has produced, Jack Holden stands near the top of the list. He wasn’t the elegant greyhound type of runner; he was built more like a boxer and ran on pure grit. Except during the Second World War, he competed at int...

Paavo Nurmi

PROFILE:  PAAVO NURMI 1897-1973   Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi was truly a legend in his own lifetime. In the 1920s he was by far the dominant distance runner in the world. He improved world records by the following margins: 1,500: 2.1 seconds; Mile: 2.2 seconds; 3,000: 12.8 seconds; 5,00...

Peter Snell

Profile: Peter Snell     b. 1938   Few runners have made such a dramatic impact on the international scene. Peter Snell stunned the running world in 1960 when he won the Olympic 800. He had been lucky to have made the New Zealand team in the first place, and then to have got throug...

Vladimir Kuts

PROFILE: VLADIMIR KUTS 1927-1975  (Note:  Some of the available material on Kuts was clearly tainted by cold-war propaganda. Some details I’ve used might not be completely correct.) The son of Ukraine factory workers, Kuts joined the Red Army at 16 when his town was invaded by the...


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