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Racing Past Articles Profile Ron Clarke


Profile: Ron Clarke

1937-2015

 

One of the great distance runners of the 20th century, this Australian broke new ground in the longer track races, just as Emil Zatopek had done 15 years earlier. Comparisons across different eras are difficult, but some statistics are illuminating. Clarke reduced the 5,000 WR by 9.2 seconds, Zatopek by 1.0; Clarke reduced the 10,000 by 38.6 seconds, Zatopek by 33.0. So Clarke wins on that score. However, competitively, Zatopek wins on an Olympic medal count with four gold and one silver to Clarke’s one bronze. This second comparison underlines the one flaw in Clarke’s career—his relatively poor competitive record in major races. Still, both men were for a time the dominant distance runner in the world. Perhaps the main difference between the two was that Clarke was more of a front runner than Zatopek. Zatopek had a race-winning kick, whereas Clarke, despite his claims to the contrary, did not. This comparison is not complete without acknowledging Zatopek’s great admiration for Ron Clarke. In 1966 Zatopek invited the Australian to Czechoslovakia, and as a parting gift he gave him his 1952 Olympic 10,000 medal with the following words: “Not out of friendship but because you deserve it.” 

Olympic Torch Carrier

Clarke leads John Landy
in a 1956 race

Clarke’s early career was full of promise. He emerged as a 17-year-old in 1955, running 4:19.4 for the Mile and 9:17.8 for Two Miles.  Then in the 1955-6 season he ran a very impressive 4:06.8 Mile. Although he narrowly missed running in his hometown Olympics at the end of 1956, he was chosen to carry the Olympic torch into the stadium and light the Olympic flame: “The torch I was to carry was a larger, heavier model than the one brought from Greece. A magnesium compound threw out sparklers…. As I ran out on to the track there was a great roar that almost flattened me.… Chunks of burning magnesium fell back on my arm, but I was too excited to notice.” (The Unforgiving Minute, p.59) 

Comeback at 23

One of the unusual features of Clarke’s running career was a four-year hiatus from 1957 to 1960, the years when he was 20 to 23 years old. These years are usually considered crucial years in a runner’s career. Clarke, facing senior competition and suffering from sinus trouble, found his attitude to running changing: “Lacking a fierce ambition to be a champion, it was easy to shrug off a decline in performances.” (TUM, p. 63) Although he kept fit during these four years, playing Australian rules football and other sports, he rarely ran seriously. He did compete for his club until 1959, but his times deteriorated to the  point where he found it hard to break 2:00 for 880. Then he married and focused on his accountancy job and marriage. His weight went up to 178lbs and he joined a golf club. 

It was only a home move in late 1960 that changed his attitude to running. He now had more spare time as he no longer had a 40-mile commute to work. So with his wife’s blessing he decided to take running seriously again: “I was nearly 24 and I estimated I had another six years or so in which I could take part in top-class sport.” (TUM, p.68) There seemed little chance of representing his country with Thomas, Vagg and Power on the scene, but he thought he could at least represent his state. So he started training, teaming up with a local friend, Les Perry, who ran for Australia in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics. 

A big breakthrough came late in 1960 when Perry took Clarke to train on the Caulfield Racecourse. It was there that he met Trevor Vincent and Tony Cook, two leading Australian runners. They quickly became his regular training partners and a significant factor in his rapid improvement. In that 1960-61 track season, Clarke “didn’t win much” but he was satisfied with his progress. His best result was second place behind Tony Cook in the Victoria State 3 Miles. Only when he broke a finger playing football did he finally gave up the sport. That meant even more time for running and the inclusion of a long Sunday morning run between 17 and 22 miles. 

October 1961 saw him running his first marathon, a “terrible” 2:53:09. He then ran 30:36 for 10,000 and a 14:23.2 for 5,000. Third-place finishes in the Victoria Championships earned him a trip to Sydney for the National 3 Miles. This race provided a breakthrough as he placed fourth with a 13:42 PB. All this encouraged him enough to train even more seriously over the 1962 winter. And although he entered the Commonwealth Games trials at the end of the winter, he never considered “the remotest possibility” that he would make the Australian team. 

Commonwealth Silver Medal

But he did, finishing second in both the 3 and 6 Miles. In his first race at the Perth Games, the 6 Miles, he dropped out, unable to deal with the 90-degree heat. The 3 Miles was a different story. In a slow race, he was in with a chance at the bell, and while Halberg won the race easily, Clarke passed Tulloh and Kidd at the end of the race to surprise with a silver medal. Halberg himself was not surprised, telling the press: “You may not realize it in Australia, but Ron is one of the finest talents in distance running today.” (AW, Aug. 29, 1970) Although the rest of the 1962-3 season was an anticlimax (he did run a 4:03.4 Mile and an 8:44.4 2 Miles), Clarke had arrived on the international scene. 

His first world records.
Melbourne, 1963

He worked hard during the 1963 Australian winter, adding weight training to his now twice-a-day training schedule. A victory in the Australian cross-country championships was an indication of continuing improvement. He also ran and won a marathon in 2:24:38. The ensuing track season saw his first two world records. 27:00 Six Miless. To start the 1963-4 season, he won a 10,000 race in 29:10.4, beating Dave Power and his two training mates Vincent and Cook. Next he ran a national record for 10 Miles in 48:25.2. More successful races over shorter distances followed and led up to a 6 Miles race in which Clarke wanted to attack the WR of  27:43.8 of Sandor Iharos. At this point he felt that Bolotnikov’s 10,000 WR of 28:18.2 was “unassailable.” 

First World Records

Clarke worked out a schedule that would take him to a 27:40 clocking, but he was soon ahead of his schedule. He went through the first three miles in 4:25, 8:57 and 13:32. This was 27.04 pace and only four seconds slower than his PB for 3 Miles. Inevitably he slowed after this, dropping to 70-second laps. But he picked it up in the last mile with 69, 68, 68, and 64. He crossed the line in 27:17.6. At this point he dropped exhausted on his knees. Then he was told that he could also beat the 10,00 record, so he got up and finished the extra 380 yards for another world record world record of 28:15.6. 

With eight months to go to the Tokyo Olympics, Clarke was suddenly a 10,000 favorite as the world-record holder. Still, despite his 26 years, he was still relatively inexperienced in international competition. True, he had run in the Commonwealth Games, but almost all of his races had been in Australia. To rectify this, he undertook a tour of indoor races in the USA and then in May he went to Europe for some top-level competition. In the States he raced against Bob Schul, Bruce Kidd and Gerry Lindgren; in Europe he raced against Pyotr Bolotnikov, Michel Jazy, Harald Norpoth. Such experience had two major benefits: it exposed him to the kind of tactics used in international races, and it gave him confidence. He later wrote: “In Europe I discovered that the crack distance runners we had read so much about were mere mortals who could be beaten like anyone else.” (TUM, p.103) 

Reality in Tokyo

Sadly for Tokyo, this competitive experience was not quite enough. He still did not have enough self-belief to win either the 5,000 or 10,000. “Murray Halberg was to point out to me at the Olympics,” he wrote, “that, as a world-record holder, I had a great psychological advantage which I failed to use. A world-record holder should attempt to take charge of the race and make his opponents bend to his will.” (TUM, p.103) So although Clarke was in good shape, he did not perform up to the expectations of a WR holder. 

Tokyo 10,000 at the bell. Clarke leads
Mills (722) and Gammoudi (615)

In the 10,000 he thought the race was his with eight laps to go. He had escaped all but three runners: Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, Mohamed Gammoudi of Tunisia and Billy Mills of the USA. Clarke was using a surging technique that almost dropped Mills. Finally with 1,000 to go, he dropped Wolde. The last lap was chaotic as the three contenders lapped runner after runner. At one point Clarke and Mills collided, and Gammoudi took the opportunity to burst through between them for the lead, pushing Clarke aggressively with his left arm. With 200 to go Gammoudi had almost a 10-meter lead. But when he entered the straight, Clarke was at his shoulder. Clarke managed to stay very close as they neared the tape, but then Mills flew past on the outside, “flying towards the tape like a meteor,” as Clarke later described it. (TUM, p.19) The winning time of 28:24.4 was a fine time, only nine seconds slower than Clarke’s world record and run on a very loose cinder track. But Clarke, although he had run courageously to break the others, had not been able to put his stamp on the race in an authoritative way. His reward was only the bronze medal. 

In the 5,000 he planned to put in two hard laps at the halfway point. But the early pace was so slow that he lost patience and took the lead and began to surge. But it was windy for this race, so leading was not a good idea. Clarke was now stuck in the lead as no one would take over. “Stupidly, I allowed the pattern of the race to upset me. I hadn’t bargained for this situation at all, and I couldn’t cope with it.” (TUM, p.116) And when Dutov of the USSR flew by and took the field with him, Clarke was left behind. He finished ninth and wrote that this race was “the one performance of which I am ashamed.” (TUM, p.109) He went on to run the Olympic Marathon, clocking 2:20:26 for a respectable 9th place. 

World Records Galore

Clarke continued racing after the Olympics in the down-under track season. He was soon running world records. First he broke Halberg’s Three Miles world record with 13:07.6 and then in the new year he broke Kuts’s 5,000 WR by just 0.4 with 13:34.6. In New Zealand he improved this to 13:33.6 with relative ease--“A new world record achieved purely through trying to engineer an easy race!” (TUM, p.124) It was a busy season for him, and he even did a quick USA tour. 

But Clarke’s focus for 1965 was a world tour, and he prepared for it thoroughly because he still had a lot to prove: “My intention was to answer overseas criticism that I had achieved all my records in Australia or New Zealand, where I had some sort of home-ground advantage.” (TUM, p.128) He also wanted to answer the “hurtful” criticism that he couldn’t compete in the big races. 

After some very complicated arrangements to ensure his amateur status remained intact, Clarke began with an 8:32 victory over 2 Miles in California, a PB. Then in a 5,000 race in Los Angeles that both Billy Mills and Bob Schul avoided, he ran a world record for 5,000. His new mark of 13:25.8 was a huge 7.8 seconds faster than his previous world record set in Auckland. He also broke the world record for 3 Miles with 13:00.4. Then before going off to Europe, he ran another fast 3 Miles in Chicago (13:03.4), this time beating Mills. 

Racing Jazy and Keino

After two races in Finland under poor conditions, Clarke went to France to meet Michel Jazy over 2 miles, which was the Frenchman’s best distance. The idea was to attack Bob Schul’s world record of 8:26.4. The two runners worked together for six laps, alternating the lead through 2:03 and 4:11. With 880 to go, Jazy surprised Clarke with a burst; the race was on. Jazy opened up a 12-yard gap with a 61.1 lap and held on for the victory, 8:22.6 to 8:24.8. Clarke later wrote, “I had not believed I could run that fast.” (TUM, p.140) 

World Games 5,000, 1965.
Trying to break Jazy and Keino.

After his WR, Jazy agreed to race Clarke over 5,000 in the World Games in Helsinki. The two were up against Kip Keino from Kenya, Britons Bruce Tulloh and Mike Wiggs, Americans Billy Mills and Bob Schul, and Bill Baillie of New Zealand. A stellar field. Clarke’s plan was to lead with a fast pace and then try to shake off the field with a mid-race surge. He was surprised that Jazy helped with the pacemaking—“an extremely generous gesture .” Clarke still surged in the 7th lap, and only Jazy and Keino could stay with him. He passed 3,000 in 8:05. Two surges on the next two laps had no effect. So he tried unsuccessfully to get Jazy to lead. On the last lap both runners passed him, Jazy (13:27.6) winning from Keino (13:28.2). Clarke (13:29.4) had again experienced the vulnerability of the front runner. 

In a return match two days later, Keino again beat Clarke 13:26.5 to 13:29.0. Then four days after that the two were in Stockholm for yet another 5,000. Keino, having been so close to the 5,000 WR, wanted to go for Clarke’s record, and he went straight into the lead. Clarke went along for the ride. He waited till just before 3 miles, where Keino had arranged some timekeepers. Keino held him off, but then was unable to answer Clarke’s sprint to the 5,000 tape. Clarke himself was only 0.6 outside his own world record, and he showed that he could win from behind. 

World Records Continue

Then buoyed by a fast win over 3,000 in Oslo (7:54.6) Clarke went to London to run the AAA 3 Miles. It was a race Clarke really wanted to win. It soon became clear with laps of 62, 65 and 64 that his only real competition was American Gerry Lindgren. The two went through the Mile in 4:15.4. The pace evened out in the next mile as Clarke ran 65s to pass 2 miles in 8:36.4, well inside world-record pace. After a ninth lap of 66.4, Clarke put in his fastest surge, and Lindgren was broken with 64 lap that followed. Clarke now saw that he was on pace for breaking the 13:00 barrier. The 16,000 crowd was going wild as Clarke was running so much faster than anyone had done before. He dug deep with 64.6 and then 61 laps for an incredible breakthrough time of 12:52.4—eight seconds faster than his previous WR. Mel Watman of Athletics Weekly called Clarke’s performance “the most prodigious in the long history of track running.” (Athletics Weekly, Aug. 29, 1965, p.17) 

The next stop was Oslo to attack the 10,000 WR. In windy conditions, Clarke led from the start, cruised through 5,000 in 13:45. Encouraged by the chanting crowd, Clarke ploughed on. At about the 19th lap he had a bad patch and was tempted to drop out, but the crowd’s chanting kept him going. Then he felt better and ran past 6 Miles in 26:47.0 and 10,000 in 27:39.4 for two world records. He had beaten these marks by 24.6 and 34.6 respectively. 

Since leaving Australia, Clarke had broken 12 WRs in 16 races. And he had broken through three barriers: 13:00 for Three Miles, 27:00 for Six Miles and 28:00 for 10,000. With such credentials, he could claim to be number one in the world, but his competitive record, for which he had been regularly and sometimes cruelly criticized, was still in question. The only way to answer his critics was to win gold in the next Olympics. But alas, the next Olympics were to be in Mexico City at the really high altitude of 2240 meters or 7,349 feet, where there was 5% less oxygen. The effect on  unacclimatised distance runners was expected to be catastrophic; Dr. Roger Bannister said some athletes might endanger their health. And Clarke was to prove his point. 

Getting Ready for Mexico City

A very concerned Clarke flew with his to Mexico City in October 1965 to research the issue of altitude competition. Competing in a 5,000 he could manage only 14:40. Afterwards he suffered from pain in his eyes and ears and from palpitations; as well, his face was grey. Fortunately, there were no long-term effects from this race, though he did find his haemoglobin was down 16% when he returned home. His conclusion was that athletes who could acclimatize at altitude before the Olympics would have a significant advantage. 

As Clarke prepared for Mexico, he began to race more over the shorter 2 Miles/3,000 distance. Clearly he was working more on his speed with the aim of being able to match the last-lap speed of his rivals. In 1965 his best 2 Miles was 8:24.8; by 1968 it was 8:19.6. In 1965 his best 3,000 was 7:54.6; by 1968 it was 7:48.4. Meanwhile he improved only his 1965 5,000 time in 1966, while his 10,000 PB was never improved. 

In 1966, he managed to lower the 5,000 WR, which had been taken from him by Keino, from 13:24.2 to 13:16.6, a major reduction. As well, he ran the fastest 10,000 of the year with a 27:54.0 clocking. On the other hand, he experienced two competitive setbacks in the Commonwealth Games in Jamaica. Naftali Temu of Kenya dropped him with a mile to go in the 6 Miles and was 150m ahead at the tape; Keino attacked Clarke with 270 to go in the 3 Miles and won with 1.8 seconds to spare—despite Clarke’s 58.4 last quarter. These two defeats only heightened Clarke’s awareness of the need to work on his speed if he was to win a major title. 

Athletics Weekly acknowledged his improved speed the next year when he won a 5,000 race with a 5:10 last 2,000 and when he outsprinted Harald Norpoth in a fast 2 Miles (8:25.4). As well, he had the fastest 5,000 of the year with a huge 16-second margin. Significantly, he avoided the 10,000. 

His pre-Olympic racing in 1968 gave him the confidence to assert that he was running better than in any time in his career. He lowered his 2 Miles world record by 0.2 with an 8:19.6,  and then he ran a fine 10,000 in 27:49.4, just ten seconds off his world record. As this race was run in very windy conditions, many believed his time was superior to his world record. And although not running faster than 13:27.8 for 5,000, he had six of the top nine times for the year. Taking five months off work to train for five months at altitude in France and the US, he had done everything he could to prepare himself to win an Olympic gold in Mexico City. But the harsh fact remained that even this amount of altitude training would not put him on a level playing field with those who lived permanently at altitude. 

Mexico Olympics

In the Olympic 10,000 final, Clarke was still in the pack on the 22nd lap when Wolde of Ethiopia upped the tempo from 71-73 laps to a 68.4 lap. He stayed in contact for a 69.0 lap, but Temu then injected a 64.4 penultimate lap that broke Clarke. He finished in sixth, 17.4 seconds behind the winner Temu. After the race he needed oxygen, for he collapsed and was unconscious for ten minutes. He recalled: “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.” (Australian Network.com) 

Still, he was back for the 5,000 final and even led after the first slow lap of 72, to take the field through 1,600 in 4:32.7. Clarke was in the hunt when the speed picked up on the 9th lap (65.8). He then took the lead, but his tenth lap was only 67.  Now Keino and Gammoudi took over. Clarke fell back to fifth, but he managed a last lap of around 61 to hold his fifth position. As well, he didn’t collapse at the end. 

Many would have given up after that cruel experience. He was clearly the best distance runner in the world, but his big chance to show his competitive ability had been foiled by the quirky IOC choice of a ridiculously high-altitude Games location. As Mel Watman wrote at the time, “He deserved a better fate.” (AW, Oct. 26, 1968) In the circumstances he had run brilliantly in Mexico City, he came away not with a medal but, as he discovered later in 1972, with a damaged heart. 

Last Chance

There was still one chance to redeem himself: the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. So despite finding it harder to train and race well, Clarke worked towards a winning performance in Edinburgh. In 1969 he ran 13:33.8 for 5,000 and 28:03 for 10,000, ranking third and first in the world. At Edinburgh he ran his best 1970 times, but came away with only a silver medal in the 10,000 (he was fifth in the 5,000). Lachie Stewart, who beat him in the 10,000, admitted to feeling really bad about denying Clarke a long-sought gold medal. “I’m sorry I had to beat Clarke,” he said. (AW, Aug. 1, 1970) 

After three more races in Europe, Ron Clarke retired. And two years later, during a medical test, a heart murmur was found. In 1983, after suffering from fibrillation while running, he had successful surgery to repair a faulty valve. Since his retirement from competitive running, Clarke has been a successful businessman and later became Mayor of Gold Coast, Queensland. 

Conclusion

Ron Clarke has always been admired in the running community. While the popular press persisted in criticizing him for not winning gold medals, many runners have seen him as the epitome of the distance runner—the one who pushed performance to a new, barely imagined level. Words can’t describe my own feelings as I watched him at the White City in 1965 running where no man had run before, many seconds ahead of the 3-Miles WR. Although he believed that he had a good finishing kick—and had shown one successfully against the likes of Norpoth, Keino and Jazy—his conscience would not let him use this sit-and-sprint racing strategy, however advantageous it might be. “I loved testing myself more than I feared being beaten, and front running is the ultimate test,” he told Kenny Moore. ( Best Efforts, p.40) Thus Moore concluded, “Clarke was a front runner out of principle. He accepted each race as a complete test, an obligation to run himself blind.” (BE, p.40) In the running world the front runner is ultimately the hero—and Ron Clarke was the greatest front runner.


20 Comments

Leah Rosevear

Saturday 15th June 2013

I have a huge amount of respect for Ron Clarke and am honoured to have been presented with a trophy last year by him. He is a genuinely really lovely humble man with a equally lovely wife. Need more like him in the world.

JIm ochse

Monday 17th December 2012

lot of simmilarities between Pre and Ron Clarke. Both naturl front runners who wanted to push the pace, but would not do well when it counted---the Olympics.

Harry Liedtke

Sunday 2nd November 2014

Ron Clarke became a huge inspiration for my son Keith when we watched him in the 1960's win the 5,000 at Toronto's Canadian National Exhibiton Stadium. Despite his brilliant win he apologized to the crowd on the PA system for not having established a new record. - Harry Liedtke, Kelowna, B.C., Canada

Charlie porter

Sunday 11th August 2013

id like to help set the record straight concerning both prefontaine and ron Clarke. as for ron, his career win percentage is 85% of which almost all his races were not his specialty-ie- the 10k/6mile. he raced the best at shorter distances-ie- 3 mile/2 mile due to the fact he had virtually no competition at his best distance of 10k/6 mile. when he did lose the 1964 10k he was not yet experienced enough to actually be the best- an overlooked fact everyone seems to ignore. mills would have been 1/4 to half a lap behind clarke at clarkes best in 1965. mills best effort in an all out race against lindgren at 6 miles in 65 was 31 seconds slower than clarkes 10k record and Clarke ran this time on a slow cut up dirt track in the 2nd and 3rd lanes to try to gain traction. mills race was on a much faster track. next- Clarke never trained for a peak performance as he never worried about other competitors- only his own improvement -such was his absolute self confidence in himself. next- when Clarke lost the 10k in Edinburgh in 70 0r 71 to stewart- he was already out of shape and not training hard due to his 68 Olympic high altitude heart damage. in 68 at standard altitude Clarke was in shape to break 27 min for 10k- of which no runner of his time was within a half lap of. suffice to say- at standard altitude in his prime Clarke was unbeatable and twenty years ahead of his competitors. even viren ackowleged he was only prepared to run at best- 27:20 in 1972 if he had to. viren is the only non-high altitude runner who could have beaten Clarke- but only if it came down to a last lap sprint. viren could never have run away from Clarke as far as pace goes. concerning prefontaine in 72- if you watched that film repeatedly-like I have- you would have seen that pre passed viren in the last 2 laps or so 3 times before viren began a quick break away in the last lap. even then- pre surged on viren a fourth time and was just about to pass him again but was cut off by gommudi slowing pre down. pre's last surge was so explosive that he would have passed viren for good to win the 5k. go back and watch that film and youll see. so mutch for pre not being competitive with viren. thanks... Charlie porter larc052005@yahoo.com

marcosantonioiglesiaspérez

Saturday 16th November 2013

Un gran hombre, una gran persona, un tremendo deportista...Lleno de éxitos académicos, deportivos y familiares. Un referente en las carreras de fondo del atletismo mundial.

Carl Sinclair

Sunday 5th April 2015

FYI: David Ondricek,a Czech film director (david@luckymanfilms.com), is planning a movie about Emil Zatopek. The film is scheduled to be released around the Rio Olympics. This movie should have Ron Clarke in it, no question about that. If you agree, drop David a line. Thanks. Carl Sinclair, Gold Coast, Australia

Marion Kruger

Tuesday 16th June 2015

A life well lived. No gold medals? so what! to be admired and loved by all thinking people in an entire nation is an even greater legacy. Well done, we loved you

Carlo D'Angio

Wednesday 17th June 2015

As an athlete in my late teens competing in the Victorian All School Sports at Olympic Park in the early '70s, I had the privilege of observing the great Ron Clarke training his young son Marcus at the track. Although long-distance was never my strength, I had always followed Ron Clarke's career across two Olympic and three Commonwealth Games. He was the ultimate long distance "stylist"; his smooth foot glide and precise arm-swing techniques made him the perfect track athlete. Without a doubt, Ron Clarke was indeed the greatest long-distance runner never to have won Olympic or Commonwealth gold. "May you rest in eternal peace and fly with the angels".....

James Percival

Wednesday 17th June 2015

Like others I found myself reading this wonderful summary on this sad day. I am far too young to remember Ron, and it was when I started competing in the late 70s I learned about the legend. For sure he was unlucky when it came to the major games, a mixture and pre-peak and challenging conditions, but he wouldn't be the first world record holder and front runner to struggle when the stakes were high (Paula Radcliffe, David Bedford) nor dominant world record holders denied a far shot (Henry Rono) but I think his transformation of the record books is one of the greatest T&F legacies of all time, so let's concentrate on that. Just a couple of queries. I once found a web chat room where 2 medically trained athletics fans were strongly questioning how the Mexico 10k could have caused heart valve damage. Ultimately most of the claims seem to track back to Ron's comments, and he was not a doctor. Secondly, not all the Africans were high altitude natives (I'm pretty sure Gammoudi wasn't) and so these comments downplay how good the Africans were by the late 60s.

Mark carey

Wednesday 17th June 2015

A man who never left anything on the track a true champion, will be missed by every true track runner from club level to the Olympics games

John Watt

Thursday 18th June 2015

Ron Clarke gave me inspiration in my days of running in the 1970's. To break so many world records is not easy to do, however Ron seem to do it with ease, that's how much of a great runner in the world he was! Mr Ron Clarke thanks for the memories, your legacy will live on!-May you Rest In Peace!

Trevor Manly

Thursday 25th June 2015

Not sure if there are many athletes who have worked as hard as Ron. With true Australian grit and perseverance I am sure many young people looked upon him and his endurance with tremendous pride. Forever in the record books and hearts and minds of many of those with whom he made his life journey.

Shalva Kokochashvili

Monday 13th July 2015

Ron Clarke will always remain as a legend and great sportsman and human being!

Lee Smith

Tuesday 7th July 2015

Ron Clarke inspired a generation of runners around the world. His graceful style and calm expression, even when he was running faster than any human before him, were a delight to watch. He competed not for personal glory - he never picked and chose his races - but for the experience of taking us all into a place we runners didn't think was possible in those days. He held down a normal job, raised a family and didn't make any money from his performances. He was mostly self-coached. And he had the guts to run at a pace and in a style that broke new ground again and again. He didn't have the performances of others to convince him that it was safe to try and run a fraction of a second faster. He courageously sacrificed himself in the early part of the race in the belief that he would be able to cope with the distress in the latter part. He ran some of his greatest times on loose cinders tracks and in poor weather without the luxury of a pacemaker. A truly humble man who always saw the clock rather than other runners as his real opponent.The great runners of today might well run half a minute faster over 10K (on synthetic tracks with a rabbit to follow) but none of them is the timeless champion that Ron Clarke will always be. Thank you Ron for showing us all that "impossible" is just a word.

Paul Minton

Tuesday 14th July 2015

When I was a young lad 16 I would see Ron Clarke Running around our Area of Ringwood in the Evenings,I was out myself doing the same thing and as we passed he would say Hi to me.He was my insperation,my Hero,I followed his Career through those Olympics and Commonwealth games.I went to his races at Olympic park in Melbourne,and saw him break a World record one night I will remember that for the rest of my days.Later years I met Ron with my Son at the Melbourne Town Hall,He Talked to us we took a photo he was such a loverly Man he was my everything in Sport Growing up Rest in Peace My Hero.

CR Mac

Thursday 24th September 2015

@James Percival - Gammoudi trained for two years straight in the Pyrenees and knew exactly how to race at altitude. A second point is that Gammoudi in doing this was actually against the IAAF rules at the time for sea-level athletes (ridiculous, but that's what was going on). If Jim Ryun or other Americans or Europeans had done this they'd have been DQ'd. The Africans were very good but Clarke was indeed robbed of a fair shot. At sea-level maybe he would have won the 10k, maybe not. Keino might have won the 5k had it been at sea-level the pace would not have been so slow. Keino was outfoxed and out-toughed by Gammoudi. That said, at sea-level, the sub-par Ryun would have won the 1500. Just as sea-level runners can be aided by altitude in the 800 (Ralph Doubell), it's likely an altitude native like Keino wouldn't be hurt too much if at all at 1500 meters - in fact he may have been helped. As far as the heart valve damage goes, it's doubtful that the '68 10k final had anything to do with Clarke's problem, which from what I've read would be congenital in nature. Maybe someone in the medical field could chime in.

CR Mac

Thursday 24th September 2015

@James Percival - Gammoudi trained for two years straight in the Pyrenees and knew exactly how to race at altitude. A second point is that Gammoudi in doing this was actually against the IAAF rules at the time for sea-level athletes (ridiculous, but that's what was going on). If Jim Ryun or other Americans or Europeans had done this they'd have been DQ'd. The Africans were very good but Clarke was indeed robbed of a fair shot. At sea-level maybe he would have won the 10k, maybe not. Keino might have won the 5k had it been at sea-level the pace would not have been so slow. Keino was outfoxed and out-toughed by Gammoudi. That said, at sea-level, the sub-par Ryun would have won the 1500. Just as sea-level runners can be aided by altitude in the 800 (Ralph Doubell), it's likely an altitude native like Keino wouldn't be hurt too much if at all at 1500 meters - in fact he may have been helped. As far as the heart valve damage goes, it's doubtful that the '68 10k final had anything to do with Clarke's problem, which from what I've read would be congenital in nature. Maybe someone in the medical field could chime in.

Hugh McCaw

Wednesday 30th March 2016

I saw Ron run to a new world record in the 3 miles in 1965 at the White City, London. He was my childhood (& still is) hero. I read his book, 'The Unforgiving Minute' many times over. I lent it to a friend who did not return it. I have never forgiven him because it was a treasured possession. A truly gentle, humble role model. When he died it was as of a family member had died. I live in Northern Ireland and his example kept me running for over 50 years.

ben watkins

Monday 17th July 2017

After READING CLARKE,S ARTICLE I WAS UNAWARE THAT HE HAD PASSED-AWAY IN 2015. HE WAS SUCH A GREAT RUNNER MY MAIN MODEL AS WELL FOR LONG DISTANCE RUNNING. HE CLOBBERED THE RECORD BOOKS FOR FIVE YEARS AND I LOVED AND ADMIRED HIS TENACITY AND WILLINGNESS TO RUN HARD ALL THE TIME! I ESPECIALLY LIKED HIS CONCERN MORE FOR THE TIME AND CLOCK AS I ALWAYS THOT THAT WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WINNING, SINCE THAT IS SO RELATIVE ON PEOPLE AND PREVAILING CONDITIONS. I HAD THE PLEASURE OF SEEING HIM RUN IN MY HOMETOWN OF PORTLAND, OREGON IN 1970, AND I GOT HIS AUTOGRAPH AS WELL! HE ALSO NEARLY RAN UNDER 4 MINUTES IN THE MILE, DOING 4:00.4. A FANTASTIC ATHELETE AND MAN OVERALL. RIP RON CLARKE, MY TRIBUTE TO YOU AND WHAT I ALWAYS THINK OF ABOUT YOU IS WHAT SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SAID ABOUT YOU IN THEIR MAGAZINE: "RON RUNS THE WORLD RAGGED". AND BOY, HOW HE DID!!! BEN WATKINS, A HUGE DAN.

ben watkins

Monday 17th July 2017

After READING CLARKE,S ARTICLE I WAS UNAWARE THAT HE HAD PASSED-AWAY IN 2015. HE WAS SUCH A GREAT RUNNER MY MAIN MODEL AS WELL FOR LONG DISTANCE RUNNING. HE CLOBBERED THE RECORD BOOKS FOR FIVE YEARS AND I LOVED AND ADMIRED HIS TENACITY AND WILLINGNESS TO RUN HARD ALL THE TIME! I ESPECIALLY LIKED HIS CONCERN MORE FOR THE TIME AND CLOCK AS I ALWAYS THOT THAT WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WINNING, SINCE THAT IS SO RELATIVE ON PEOPLE AND PREVAILING CONDITIONS. I HAD THE PLEASURE OF SEEING HIM RUN IN MY HOMETOWN OF PORTLAND, OREGON IN 1970, AND I GOT HIS AUTOGRAPH AS WELL! HE ALSO NEARLY RAN UNDER 4 MINUTES IN THE MILE, DOING 4:00.4. A FANTASTIC ATHELETE AND MAN OVERALL. RIP RON CLARKE, MY TRIBUTE TO YOU AND WHAT I ALWAYS THINK OF ABOUT YOU IS WHAT SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SAID ABOUT YOU IN THEIR MAGAZINE: "RON RUNS THE WORLD RAGGED". AND BOY, HOW HE DID!!! BEN WATKINS, A HUGE FANN.

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