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RIP - Norbert Sander


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  • RIP - Norbert Sander

  • #2
    I raced in the Armory from the early 1960s for about a decade. Later I returned to run sub-masters races from the late 70s until the early 80s. In 1984, after it had been made into a homeless shelter, I brought a high athlete to probably one of the last big meets there. The Armory reeked. Cots were lined against the walls. My athlete, a tough football player, told me that some strange looking guy was eying his gold chain when he went to the men's room.

    I didn't return to the Armory until 1994 when I brought some high schools kids there. The cots were gone. In place of the old splintery parade floor was an all weather 200 meter oval. The meets had returned thanks to Dr. Sander. A few years later a banked track was brought in. The Armory once again became a mecca for track and field.

    Thank you Dr. Norbert Sander. R.I.P.


    • #3
      I ran in high school (Brooklyn Tech) from 1980 to 1984. In my freshman year ('80-'81), the floor was clear. I knew about the splinters here and there on the wooden floor, but I didn't get my first taste of it until I tripped and fell in a race in early-1983.

      It was sometime between the spring and fall of 1981 that they started using the floor for the homeless beds, and when the track meets took place, they would stack the beds along the final straightaway (the relay exchange zone was in the middle of the turn nearest the concession area).

      The beds stayed there throughout the remainder of my high-school years. The place was obviously darker than it is now. It was only after I graduated that the place became impossible for meets to be held there. When last I checked, the last New York City PSAL Indoor Championship meet to be held at the Armory was in 1986. I was not there, but people told me that the place was getting darker and dirtier.

      The next year (1987), the PSAL moved the meet (and presumably other high-school-related meets) to Draddy Gym at Manhattan College, where it remained until the new flat Mondo surface (spikes allowed) was laid out on the Armory floor in the summer or fall of 1993. Obviously the homeless beds were cleared out. I went to the Bishop Loughlin Games in December of that year, and wished they had this kind of track 10 years beforehand, because Yale and Princeton had a track like this. Meets that left the Armory in the mid-1980s moved back in, and meet records on the old wood were dropping like flies.

      Although it would be another 5 years before I set foot in the place again, I started reading reports of meets moving back into the Armory, when beforehand they were being held in places like Manhattan College, Pratt Institute and Fordham U., any place in the city with a 200m/220y track. Then I went to the New Balance Games in January, 1999, and saw the banked track for the first time. They had just built the track, which sits on top of the flat track. In 2000, the National Scholastic, which became a banked-track meet in the mid-1990s, moved in and has stayed ever since. I knew, even back then, that soon enough the Millrose would move in, because 160y tracks were too tight and no match for 200m tracks as far as meet records were concerned. Come 2012, I was right.

      But what I see, as a hindrance to the success of the Armory now, are twofold: (1) The cost of keeping the place running, resulting in (2) the glut of meets, to the point where, if my eyes haven't deceived me, on at least one day there were 3 meets running on that day, one after the other. Meets that used to be free, back in 2000, are now $5 (sometimes $10, depending on the meet); meets that used to be $5 or $8 are now $10, and meets that used to be $10 are now $15. I wonder how much they are charging meet organizers today, as opposed to 1999-2003, after the installation of the banked track and before they renovated the waiting/concession area...

      ...Then there is the Ocean Breeze track in Staten Island, which opened last indoor season. Already a longtime Armory meet has moved in; namely, the Bishop Loughlin, held at this track for the first time in December. If they are charging less to meet organizers, and less for admission, watch this track draw more meets away from the Armory.

      Despite having a flat track, I imagine the Park Slope Armory has the lion's share of children's meets (ages 12 and under), given that the YMCA runs the place. And word has it that the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx (which is huge) might be the next place to be turned into a sporting facility. Whether it will include a 200m indoor track remains to be seen.

      Dr. Sander did a spectacular job renovating a place that housed most of the city's track meets, at a time when even rubber tracks (no spikes) like the ones at Pratt and Manhattan College didn't exist. But I wonder if he and today's sponsors (New Balance being one of them) thought they would always be the only place in town; because now that is no longer the case.

      The one thing I wish I had seen, when the Armory floor was still a wood floor, was an indoor 100y race, either in the middle of the floor, or down that 110y side straightaway leading to the finish used for all oval races.
      Last edited by CookyMonzta; 03-20-2017, 03:47 AM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by CookyMonzta View Post
        The one thing I wish I had seen, when the Armory floor was still a wood floor, was an indoor 100y race, either in the middle of the floor, or down that 110y side straightaway leading to the finish used for all oval races.
        I competed at the Armory from 71-75 and it seems to me there were 100y races. Maybe in the Bishop Loughlin meet?


        • #5
          When I ran in high school meets in the early 1960s the sprint race was 100 yds. right down the center of the floor. Runners started where the jeeps were usually parked and to have room to slow down after the finish line the doors were opened so that runners would have the lobby to run into. And you could always smell the hotdogs which were sold from where the shoe store is now!


          • #6
            I ran in those 100s too ! Adhesive tape and hairspray were used as makeshift blocks.

            Not all lanes had the doors in front of them so you had to swerve to get thru them.

            Fried bologna sandwiches and Mello Rolls.

            . . . the small 15 cent tokens . . .
            IIRC the CHSAA ran the 100 and the PSAL was at 60yds. I believe my indoor 100yds PR was from the St Francis meet.
            I was a slow sprinter my indoor 100yd PR is 10.5
            Last edited by wineturtle; 03-21-2017, 06:04 PM.
            Tom Hyland:
            "squack and wineturtle get it"