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greatest runners of the 19th century

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  • #16
    Originally posted by bambam
    Powderhall was a Scottish track that held many of the British professional races.
    Past tense? Did it close in past couple of years? Was still the big event up there in 1990s... comparable to Stawell down here in Australia...

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    • #17
      Hmm, did my own research here, and it turns out the New Year Sprint at Powderhall moved venues in 1999 after 129 years:

      http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_q ... _n13943945

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      • #18
        I think Seward had some great 200 and 300 yard times as well.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by bambam
          OK, I checked the facts on the Lon Myers - Walter George races:

          4 Nov 1882 - Manhattan Polo Grounds - 1/2-mile - Myers won in 1:56 3/5 to George's 1:57

          11 Nov 1882 - Manhattan Polo Grounds - Mile - George won in 4:21 2/5 to Myers's 4:27 3/5

          30 Nov 1882 - Manhattan Polo Grounds - 3/4 Mile - George won in 3:10 1/2 to Myers's 3:13
          This is only part of the story. Myers got sick in the middle of this series, which put him at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, George won this series 2-1. They met again, indoors in NYC in early 1886, in a similar series and Myers beat George 3-0. They met yet again (as pros) in a best of three series in Australia in 1887, and Myers easily won their first two matches. So, on a "lifetime" basis, there's not much of a contest here...

          In answer to the larger question, Seward was a superb runner for his day but could not have competed with Hutchens, Myers, etc. The times attributed to him need to be taken with a truckload of salt. By all accounts, Hutchens was THE great sprinter of the day--from about 100 to 300 yards. However, due to the constant gamesmanship of the pro ranks, it's hard to quantify exactly how great he was. Myers was also clearly the greatest long sprinter of the day--he ran some fine 100y races, but was nearly untouchable from 220 to 1000y. George was a bit of a hot-and-cold runner, but obviously the greatest miler of the era. The greatest single legitimate time of the period was George's 4:12-3/4 mile, accomplished in a fierce match against William Cummings (who, if I recall correctly, was a 4:16 guy).

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          • #20
            good post kuha...have u read sears`s new book on seward? he makes a strong case for the legitimacy of sewards marks

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            • #21
              Originally posted by parkerrclay
              good post kuha...have u read sears`s new book on seward? he makes a strong case for the legitimacy of sewards marks
              No, I haven't, but I'll order it immediately. I'll be interested in what he has to say, for sure. My sense is that--in terms of timing, accuracy of measurement, etc.--there's a HUGE difference between the 1840s and the 1870/80s. Given what I know now (and I'm always open to new info!!), I am highly suspicious of any and all times/measurements from pre-1860, while fairly confident in most of what was reported after ca. 1870 or so. Much of what we now take for granted--for example, that sprint times were made on a level surface, without massive wind assistance, over a correctly measured course, and from a still start--can NOT be automatically assumed in Seward's day. To me, the idea of him running a "legit" 9-1/4 100y is a non-starter.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by kuha
                Originally posted by bambam
                OK, I checked the facts on the Lon Myers - Walter George races:

                4 Nov 1882 - Manhattan Polo Grounds - 1/2-mile - Myers won in 1:56 3/5 to George's 1:57

                11 Nov 1882 - Manhattan Polo Grounds - Mile - George won in 4:21 2/5 to Myers's 4:27 3/5

                30 Nov 1882 - Manhattan Polo Grounds - 3/4 Mile - George won in 3:10 1/2 to Myers's 3:13
                This is only part of the story. Myers got sick in the middle of this series, which put him at a disadvantage. Nonetheless, George won this series 2-1. They met again, indoors in NYC in early 1886, in a similar series and Myers beat George 3-0. They met yet again (as pros) in a best of three series in Australia in 1887, and Myers easily won their first two matches. So, on a "lifetime" basis, there's not much of a contest here...

                In answer to the larger question, Seward was a superb runner for his day but could not have competed with Hutchens, Myers, etc. The times attributed to him need to be taken with a truckload of salt. By all accounts, Hutchens was THE great sprinter of the day--from about 100 to 300 yards. However, due to the constant gamesmanship of the pro ranks, it's hard to quantify exactly how great he was. Myers was also clearly the greatest long sprinter of the day--he ran some fine 100y races, but was nearly untouchable from 220 to 1000y. George was a bit of a hot-and-cold runner, but obviously the greatest miler of the era. The greatest single legitimate time of the period was George's 4:12-3/4 mile, accomplished in a fierce match against William Cummings (who, if I recall correctly, was a 4:16 guy).
                George's 4:12-3/4 is without question legitimate as you say. Reading descriptions of the race, when Cummings "quit" about 120 yards from home, did George ease up? Not entirely clear to me. And what about the "legitimacy" of George's 4:10 and change time trial run? Finally, why did George's mile record stand up for such a length of time? (Beyond the obvious that he was a superb runner).

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by catson52
                  George's 4:12-3/4 is without question legitimate as you say. Reading descriptions of the race, when Cummings "quit" about 120 yards from home, did George ease up? Not entirely clear to me. And what about the "legitimacy" of George's 4:10 and change time trial run? Finally, why did George's mile record stand up for such a length of time? (Beyond the obvious that he was a superb runner).
                  From my memory (and NO, I wasn't there on the day!), George probably did know that Cummings had quit and simply was driving to the line for a great time. Or, perhaps there was so much crowd noise that he wasn't aware that he truly had the race won. Either way, this race truly extended him unlike any other he ever ran. [Of my all-time dream list of races to have personally seen, this one is right near the top!!] The time trial time is pure hearsay; it may have been real, or mostly real, but we'll never know. By contrast, the 4:12 is unquestionable. The 4:12 held up all those years for two main reasons: 1) there were no pros in subsequent years who were as good as George, and who were really extended in a competitive contest; and 2) because amateurism pretty much ruled the day in following decades, and amateurs were'nt as good and didn't train as hard as the pros of the 1880s.

                  It bugs the crap out of me that George's time is (still!) usually ignored in mile WR progression lists because he was a pro.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by kuha
                    Originally posted by catson52
                    George's 4:12-3/4 is without question legitimate as you say. Reading descriptions of the race, when Cummings "quit" about 120 yards from home, did George ease up? Not entirely clear to me. And what about the "legitimacy" of George's 4:10 and change time trial run? Finally, why did George's mile record stand up for such a length of time? (Beyond the obvious that he was a superb runner).
                    From my memory (and NO, I wasn't there on the day!), George probably did know that Cummings had quit and simply was driving to the line for a great time. Or, perhaps there was so much crowd noise that he wasn't aware that he truly had the race won. Either way, this race truly extended him unlike any other he ever ran. [Of my all-time dream list of races to have personally seen, this one is right near the top!!] The time trial time is pure hearsay; it may have been real, or mostly real, but we'll never know. By contrast, the 4:12 is unquestionable. The 4:12 held up all those years for two main reasons: 1) there were no pros in subsequent years who were as good as George, and who were really extended in a competitive contest; and 2) because amateurism pretty much ruled the day in following decades, and amateurs were'nt as good and didn't train as hard as the pros of the 1880s.

                    It bugs the crap out of me that George's time is (still!) usually ignored in mile WR progression lists because he was a pro.
                    Thnaks, kuha.

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                    • #25
                      No problem; happy to help. Your interest in this stuff is truly appreciated!

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