Racing Past

The History of Middle and Long Distance Running

Racing Past - Articles - 1950s

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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...

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...

Brian Hewson

BRIAN HEWSON: PROFILE b. 1933    This highly talented English runner emerged in the early 1950s as a world-class 880-Mile runner. Throughout his running career, which ended in 1960, he worked full-time. Nevertheless, he won 17 national titles, a European title and two silver Empire ...

Woldemar Gerschler

COACH PROFILE: WOLDEMAR GERSCHLER 1904-1982    Gerschler's success was honoured by Der Spiegel. Although the Second World War and its aftermath interrupted his coaching career just as it had begun to flourish, Woldemar Gerschler established himself as one of the ...

1952 Olympic Games
Major Games

1952 OLYMPIC GAMES HELSINKI, FINLAND JULY 19-AUGUST 3   Performances were much better than in the previous Olympics. Recovery from the stresses and deprivations of the Second World War meant that runners were able to train harder and eat properly. Zatopek, with his triple crown, outshone al...

1950 European Championships
Major Games

1950 European Championships  Brussels, August 23-27   800 Boysen of Norway, who had run a fast 1:48.7, was the clear favorite.  Hansenne and Bengtsson were also highly favoured. The British were not expected to be in the medals, even by their own supporters. Bannister, who had jus...


ProfileGreat RacesMajor Games1960s