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Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Field

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  • Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Field

    Next February will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Wanamaker Mile at the 1955 Millrose Games, a race entitled at the time by Sports Illustrated as "The Riotous Wanamaker Mile". It certainly ranks with one of the "most bizarre things in track and field", especially in a major race.

    To set the scene--A week earlier in the Boston A.A. Mile Wes Santee, then America's greatest miler, had crushed Gunnar Nielsen, the Danish 1952 Olympic 1500m bronze medalist, in his American indoor debut, by 35 yards, running 4:03.8 to break Gil Dodds' record of 4:05.3. They met again a week later in the Wanamaker on the old Madison Square Garden 160-yard board track before a passionate sell-out crowd. Also in the race was Fred Dwyer of Villanova, the 1953 Wanamaker winner. After a very fast pace, Santee led at the half-mile. On the middle of the backstretch on the last lap with 80 yards remaining, it was Santee, Dwyer and Nielsen in close single file. Suddenly Nielsen shot to the lead and into the turn. Santee, tiring, moved out to prevent Dwyer from also passing him. Dwyer moved inside Santee in an attempt to catch Nielsen. Santee suddenly moved back to the pole and Dwyer was forced off the track. Dwyer continued to run off the track and then came back on the track at the head of the homestretch in front of Santee. Santee reacted by grabbing Dwyer's shoulder. Dwyer grabbed Santee around the waist and the two of them spun around the track in each other's arms, then broke apart and staggered across the finish line. Dwyer was disqualified for running indide the track. Ahead of them Nielsen had finished in a world indooor record of 4:03.6, breaking Santee's week-old record. It was a world record that few of the 15,000 spectators had actually witnessed. All eyes had been on the strange Santee-Dwyer fiasco.

  • #2
    Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

    The craziest thing I have EVER seen is a thread with the exact name as another one LOL

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    • #3
      Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

      LOL, Pelle. I'm sure Ben will file that one under your thread. :-)

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      • #4
        Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

        That is certainly some story!

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        • #5
          Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

          I apologize for not replying under your thread where I meant it to go. As you can see I may be old but I'm new to this game.
          Howard

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          • #6
            Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

            Howard, welcome to the group. Just having some fun. That is a great story! :-)

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            • #7
              Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

              No, it wasn:t like that at all... sarcasim runs deep in these neck of the woods sometimes. Welcome and thanks for the terrific info on the crazy, strange, bizarre things which have made track & field what it is today!

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              • #8
                Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

                I remember well the stories about the Santee/Dwyer wrestling match but Gunnar Nielsen, great as he was, never medalled in the OG. He was 4th in the Helsinki 800.

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                • #9
                  Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

                  Per,
                  You are correct. I confused Nielsen's Olympic exploits with those of another foreign athlete, Willy Slijkhuis of the Netherlands, 1948 1500m and 5000m bronze medalist, who was defeated by Don Gehrmann in a great Wanamaker Mile in 1949.
                  Howard

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                  • #10
                    Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

                    How about Louis Zamperini coming back from oblivion at the end of WWII to find a major indoor race named after him as a memorial? Like a B-movie plot.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Craziest, Strangest Most Bizarre Things in Track and Fie

                      Speaking of Louis Zamperini, for a great read get his book, The Devil At My Heels. It's a great distance running story as well as his incredible ordeal of two months on a raft in the Pacific and then two years in a Japanese prison camp.

                      He actually tried to get back into running after the war, but could never overcome injuries and his bodies weakened condition. Once I started reading it, I could hardly put it down.

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