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Sports Then and Now



Prefontaine Classic Flashback: 20 Runners Demolish Four-Minute Mile 4

Posted on April 11, 2011 by Rojo Grande

(Zimbio) Not many pleasures in life surpass a good distance race at Eugene's Hayward Field.

You’ve got to be fast.

Opportunities to sneak past the giant and steal his goods are rare…and brief.

So when this giant—normally a vigilant guardian of his treasury—carelessly nodded off for 40 winks, 40 feet scampered past him to loot his vaults of their sacred bounty.

And fast those 40 feet were.

It happened just last year—July 3, 2010 at the Prefontaine Classic (Diamond League) international track meet in Eugene, Oregon. Such an elite field of middle distance runners had been assembled that two separate runnings of the one-mile race had to be staged.

The mile run has remained an iconic race through the decades (in spite of the metric measuring system) simply by virtue of its famous four-minute barrier. Though hundreds of runners have dipped beneath that barrier since Roger Bannister’s epic christening in 1954, to accomplish a sub-4:00 mile is still considered a lofty goal and a worthy feat.

In that sense, the four-minute mile continues to loom as a stingy, hulking giant.

Oh, it’s not all that unusual these days for two, maybe three raiders to pilfer from the giant a few token gold coins. But an entire platoon—in one day, at one location—ransacking his storehouse?

Yes, in two waves they came: Gregson, Acosta, van Deventer.

Torrence, Kithii, van der Westhuizen.

Pifer, Brown, Mansoor Ali and Rupp,  early in the meet in the International Mile.

And then, in the meet’s finale, the Bowerman Mile: Kiprop, Laalou, Gebremedhin.

Komen, Wheating, Kiptanui Kemboi.

Lamong, Moustaoui, Lagat and Keiteny. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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