Walt Murphy is one of the finest track geeks that I know. Walt does #ThisDayinTrack&FieldHistory, an excellent daily service that provides true geek stories about our sport. You can check out the service for FREE with a free one-month trial subscription! (email: WaltMurphy44@gmail.com ) for the entire daily service. We will post a few historic moments each day, beginning February 1, 2024.

by Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service (WaltMurphy44@gmail.com), used with permission

This Day in Track & Field/X-Country–March 21

1953–The Grand Street Boys’ “Dream Team” of  Herb McKenley (48.2), Andy Stanfield (49.8), George Rhoden (48.5), and Mal Whitfield (47.9) set an American and World Record of 3:14.4 in the Mile Relay on the 220y-flat board track at the 174th Armory Games in Buffalo.

McKenley was a 2-time Olympic silver medalist in the 400-meters (1948, 1952); Stanfield was the 1952 Olympic 200-meter champion; Rhoden was the gold medalist in the 400 in 1952; and Whitfield won the 800 at the 1948 and 1952 Games. McKenley and Rhoden ran on Jamaica’s winning 4×400 relay in 1952.

From Dave Johnson: “…it was only in the early ’60s that the relay team national homogeneity definition changed. Before that, the A.R. could be set by any U.S. club, college, or national team regardless of the nationalities of the runners.”  (World Indoor Records weren’t officially recognized by the IAAF/World Athletics until 1987)

            This was the 6th World Indoor Record of the season for Whitfield.


1977—Thom Hunt’s individual win in the Junior race (7.5km) led the U.S. to the team title at the World X-Country Championships in Düsseldorf, Germany. The other scorers for the U.S. were Mark Spilsbury (5th), Marty Froelick (12th), and Chris Fox (18th).

Léon Schots beat Portugal’s Carlos Lopes in the Senior race to lead Belgium to the team title.

Spain’s Carmen Valero won the Women’s Senior race (no Junior race for women), while runner-up Lyudmila Bragina led the Soviet Union to the team title. The U.S. won the silver medal.

Other notable finishers:

Senior Men (12.3km): 4. Franco Fava (Italy/became one of the leading journalists in the sport), 7.Karel Lismont (Belgium), 24.Jeff Wells (USA), 30.Fernando Mamede (Portugal), 37.Rob de Castella (Australia), 42.Gary Tuttle (USA), 44.Jos Hermens (Netherlands), 45.Dave Bedford (Great Britain), 91.Ray Treacy (Ireland), 99.Tom Wysocki (USA), 103.Steve Jones (Wales), 104.Tony Sandoval (Wales), 106.Jon Anderson (USA), 109.Neil Cusack (Ireland), 111.Ric Rojas (USA), 112.Steve Flanagan (USA/Shalane’s dad), 132.Roger Robinson (New Zealand), 159.Donal Walsh (Ireland); DNF-Emiel Puttemans (Belgium)

Senior Women (5.1km): 3. Giana Romanova (Soviet Union), 4. Irina Bondarchuk (Soviet Union), 8. Sue Kinsey (USA), 9. Anne Audain (New Zealand), 11.Kathy Mills (USA), 14.Julie Brown (USA), 15.Paula Neppel (USA), 48.Doris Brown-Heritage (USA), 54.Eryn Forbes (USA)

Junior Men (7.5km): 9.José Abascal (Spain), 15.Antonio Prieto (Spain), 52.Adrian Leek (Wales)


Past Results (Since 1973)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Athletics_Cross_Country_Championships


1980—President Jimmy Carter announced that the U.S. should boycott the Moscow Olympics, but the USOC made that decision official on April 12. Some in the British government also wanted to boycott the Games, but they were rebuffed by the British Olympic Association, which decided to send a team to Moscow.

Here are some links to related stories.




            Don Paige, who would have been one of the favorites in the men’s 800, looks back(2012):


            Great Britain Decides to Compete:


            (1996) http://tinyurl.com/yksjbet


1981–Less than a week after setting an American Outdoor Record of 56-7  ½ (17.26m) in the Triple Jump at UCLA

(3-15),  Willie Banks traveled to Tokyo, where he set an Indoor mark of 56-5  ¼ (17.20m).

After fouling three times at the U.S. Indoor Championships in NY, Banks was originally dropped from the U.S. squad scheduled to compete in Tokyo. Still, Ollan Cassell, the head of TAC (The Athletics Congress), reinstated him after he got his Outdoor AR. Another American Record was set by Jeanette Bolden, who won the women’s 60 in 7.21. (From T&F News)

1982—Highlights from the World Cross Country Championships in Rome

Senior Men (11.978km): 1. Mohammed Kedir (ETH) 33:40.5, 2.Alberto Salazar (USA) 33:44.8, 3.Rod Dixon (NZL) 34:01.8, 4.Hansjörg Kunze (GDR), 5.Mike McLeod (GBR)…7.Alberto Cova (ITA), 8.Werner Schildauer (GDR)…10.Rob de Castella (AUS), 13.Fernando Mamede (PO, 16.Miruts Yifter (ETH), 23.Steve Jones (Wales), 27.Don Clary (USA), 37.Emiel Puttemans (BEL), 47.Jon Treacy (IRL), 60.Dan Dillon (USA), 64.Pat Porter (USA), 69.Herb Lindsay (USA), 78.Dan Heikkinen (USA), 93.Jon Sinclair (USA), 102.Guy Arbogast (USA), 107.Neil Cusack (IRL), 129.Randy Jackson (USA); Teams:1.Ethiopia 98, 2.England  114, 3.Soviet Union 257;

Senior Women (4.663km):1.Maricica Puică (RUM) 14:38.9, 2.Fița Lovin (RUM) 14:40.5, 3.Grete Waitz (NOR) 14:43.9, 6.Ingrid Kristiansen (NOR), 10.Jan Merrill (USA), 12.Kate Wiley (CAN), 17.Marty Cooksey (USA), 20.Aileen O’Connor (USA), 21.Rosa Mota (POR), 23.Brenda Webb (USA), 27.Joan Hansen (USA), 42.Yvonne Murray (SCO), 45.Wanda Panfil (POL), 71.Liz Lynch (SCO), 75.Lesley Welch (USA), 87.Elly Van Hulst (NED),    Teams:1.Soviet Union 44, 2.Italy 57, 3.England 67;

Junior Men (7.926km):1.Zurbachev Gelaw (ETH) 22:45.3, 2.Adugna Lema (ETH) 22:46.6, 3.Stefano Mei (ITA) 22:48.7, 6.Francesco Panetta (ITA), 11.John Easker (USA), 14.Tom Ansberry (USA), 16.Martín Fiz (ESP), 22.George Nicholas (USA), 23.Joe Stintzi (USA), 46.Jonathan Knight (USA), 73.Andy Ronan (IRL); DNF-Gabriella Dorio (ITA); Teams: 1. Ethiopia 12, 2.Italy 37, 3.USA  70



1992—Running on a snow-covered Franklin Park course in Boston in sub-freezing temperatures, Lynn Jennings waited until the last 100 meters before pulling ahead of Ireland’s Catherina McKiernan to win her third consecutive World X-Country title.

Jennings, who first ran on this course as a high school sophomore, was expected to duel with Scotland’s Liz McColgan, but the World 10k Champion was under the weather and was never a factor (41st). 1988 Olympian Vicki Huber returned to form with her 4th-place finish as the U.S. women won the silver medals behind Kenya. Backing up Jennings and Huber were Annette Peters (30th), Sylvia Mosqueda (42nd), Melinda Schmidt (47th), and Lisa Karnopp (89th). Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan (1990,1991), like Huber (1989), a former NCAA X-C  Champion from Villanova, finished 7th.

”I knew everyone,” Jennings said of the familiar surroundings, ”all the technical people and all 
the officials on the starting line. My neighbors were here with their 
two children. It was like putting on a race in my own backyard. I
 wanted to stop and take it all in.”

            Two future World Record holders were on view in the Women’s Junior race as Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe (marathon) and China’s Wang Junxia (10,000) finished 1-2.

            Kenya’s great John Ngugi went through some tough times after winning his 4th World Cross title in 1989 (see below) but bounced back here to win a record 5th men’s title.

            The Men’s Junior race featured two future greats as Haile Gebrselassie finished 2nd and 17-year-old Hicham El Guerrouj placed 14th.

            Jennings,  who would go on to win the bronze medal in the 10,000-meters at the Barcelona Olympics later in the year, was inducted into the USATF Hall of Fame in 2006.


Hall of Fame Biohttps://www.usatf.org/athlete-bios/lynn-jennings

Sports Illustrated Vault:


Jennings Featurehttp://www.si.com/vault/1993/03/29/128288/lynn-jennings




From Ngugi’s website

            But after a five-year run of hard racing and success, injuries began to catch up with Ngugi. “I think I raced many times after the Seoul Olympics. I received many invitations worldwide, and the lure of prize money always tempted me to honor them. “In the end, I suffered many injuries.”

            So, in the next World Cross, in France in 1990, Ngugi finished only 20th. However, with five men in the top 10, Kenya comfortably retained the team title—without Ngugi making the scoring six. Khalid Skah of Morocco won that day, with Moses Tanui second and Julius Korir third.

            The following year, Ngugi did not even finish the race in Antwerp. Skah retained the title, with Tanui again second, ahead of Simon Karori and Richard Chelimo. Was the great Ngugi finished?

            Before the 1992 season, Ngugi says, “I prayed hard and appealed to God to restore my hope and strength. I knew deep inside myself that I still had the strength to win more world titles.”

            And so it was that Ngugi again made the Kenyan team, this time to race at Boston. Just months before his 30th birthday, Ngugi was again World Champion for a record-breaking fifth time. “I always enjoyed difficult conditions. Boston had a lot of snow, almost ankle-deep, and a tough hill. I like such conditions, and that is how I won the title,” he says.

2004–Running in the wind, rain, cold, and mud in Brussels, Belgium, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele won his 3rd straight double in the short (3-20) and long (3-21) races at the IAAF World X-Country Championships. Ethiopia ended Kenya’s 18-year reign as team champions in the men’s long race.

Kenenisa Bekele, World Cross Country, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics

Australia’s Benita Willis (27:17) won the Women’s long race (3-20) over Ethiopia’s Ejegayehu Dibaba (27:29), while Kenya’s Edith Masai (13:07) won the short race over Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba (13:09)

The top American finisher in the Men’s Short race was Robert Gary (33rd), currently the head coach at Furman, while Abdi Abdirahman was 34th in the long race.

Shalane Flanagan (14th) and Lauren Fleshman (24th) were the top two American finishers in the Women’s Long race.

IAAF Coverage


A fun addition: 50 years of World Cross Country, by World Athletics: https://worldathletics.org/competitions/world-athletics-cross-country-championships/44th-world-athletics-cross-country-championsh-7138983/news/series/50-years-world-cross-country-championships-1993-2002