Last Updated on November 17, 2012 by Jimson Lee
My all time favorite race without rabbits is the 1974 Commonwealth Games 1500 meters in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Filbert Bayi’s set a world record of 3.32.2 beating New Zealand’s John Walker in the process. Bayi opened up a first lap 54.9 and ran from start to finish in first place, with Walker closing in the final lap.
The video shows the 800m race first, followed by the 1500m about 800m into the race, with 700m to go. What you miss is Bayi leading from the gun on a suicide pace. He splits 800 meters at 1:52.1! Here is the video from YouTube:
You see, there is no need for wascal wabbits! And you have John Walker and Rod Dixon stalking like hunting prey.
Fast Forward to the 1975 Dream Mile with Marty Liquori… another World Record of 3:51.0. This time, Bayi opened up with reasonable 57.1 and 1:57 440 yard splits. Here is the video from YouTube.
UPDATE: Sorry, the video is no longer on YouTube.
Unfortunately, the African Boycott of 1976 Montreal Olympics denied the John Walker-Filbert Bayi showdown.
On an further note, Filbert Bayi lost to David Moorcroft at 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta in the 1500 meters using this same strategy.
Win or lose, I absolutely love front running. Catch me if you can!
I’m with you, JL. I hate races with rabbits but it has been a standard for too long. The promoters, sponsors, agents and competitors are addicted. I am also revisiting a couple of books on Sebastian Coe. He developed quite a bit from front running strategies which were instrumental in establishing himself as one of the all-time greats. Yes, he lost early on to some world class runners with this method but this helped create a strong mental capacity to endure what was to be in the future. For the young runners out there, when you put your neck out on the line with the above strategy, usually you will train with much more consideration to preparation and efficiency. It is possible to be brave and smart at the same time with sacrifice and hard work. Your coaches may have other ideas for you concerning race strategy, though, so don’t be afraid to voice your opinions. Alas, Olympic boycotts have cheated us of many great potential clashes of which we can only dream of today.
Thanks again, Jimson
Jimson Lee says
@Fred – I am a 200-400m sprinter, and was entered in a 600m indoor for over-distance work. My coach, Dennis Barrett, said to run the 600 as a 400 and then “hang on”.
I ran splits of 25 & 51 (my PB was 51+ for indoors 400 at the time) and died on my last lap with a 30 sec split – 1:21 was my final time, which qualified for Nationals, but I made the 300m standard later in the season.
I was passed by a Ottawa Lions, LSU and Kansas runner at the 450 mark (they slingshot’ed off the curve) and my eyes were so blurry over the last 100 meters.
Moral of this boring story? I’ll take a PB (and standard) and come 4th anyday!