The Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile commemorates Sir Roger Bannnisterâ€™s first sub four minute mile on a similar, crushed brick track at Oxford University.
This “Classic Mile” is growing to be one of the worldâ€™s most exciting and competitive one mile race. The event attracts a host of international caliber runners from around the globe. The first runner to cross the line in under four minutes, or 4:30 for women, will win a Mercedes-Benz B200!
1n 2007, Shedrack Korir won the mile in 3:56.05, winning the 2007 Mercedes-Benz B200! Not bad for four minutes of work.
So how about Sprinters? Let them dig holes into the cinder track instead of using starting blocks! You won’t see any sub 10 seconds 100 meters results. Maybe a sub 10 second 100 yard finish.
Here was an interesting throwback article from Cleveland.com
Reader offers track and field challenge idea to Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston
It won’t happen. Too many egos to be bruised. Too much endorsement money to be lost.
Still, reader Ronald Nelson’s twist on my column of last Sunday is a fascinating idea. I wondered who was the greatest of all time in the 100-meter sprint. The question was: What would Jesse Owens run today, with modern tracks, lightweight shoes, electronic starting systems, aerodynamic uniforms and legal muscle-building supplements?
Nelson turns it around.
What time would the greatest sprinters today run under the conditions of Owens’ time, or of Bob Hayes’ time? The conditions would include track singlets not tailored to reduce wind resistance, heavier shoes, no starting blocks (in Owens’ case), a slow cinder track (Hayes) or a muddy clay track (Owens), and reaction times dependent on proximity to the starter’s pistol.
Nelson calls it “The Track and Field Throwback Challenge.”
The eight-man field would include the past two Olympic champions, the past three world champions (or the runners-up in case of overlapping) and the holders of the next-best times in the world. Half the prize money would go to charity on a graduated scale ($50,000 for competing, $100,000 for winning).
It would also work for golf. In this Tiger Woods-less summer and fall, Phil Mickelson could play Vijay Singh, with actual wooden woods and a ball that’s not taken from a ballistics lab, on a short course like Canterbury, which could no longer be overpowered.
But it works best for track. Speed versus speed.
My version is restricted to the 100, the iconic event in the sport, the one in which the “world’s fastest human” is identified; the mile, a fan favorite; the high jump, in which technique has changed radically; and the pole vault, in which equipment is much different.
It was a test of pain tolerance when jumpers landed in sand pits or in sawdust. But foam rubber would be used for safety.
How would the high jumpers do with the old straddle style and not the Fosbury Flop?
How would Tim Mack, the 2004 Olympic pole vault gold medalist from Westlake and St. Ignatius at 19 feet, 6Â¼ inches, do on a bamboo pole like the one Cornelius Warmerdam used to break 15 feet? Warmerdam missed the Olympics because of World War II, but he ranks with Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka of the fiberglass era as the greatest ever.
Don Bragg, the last Olympic gold medalist to use a steel pole, hated how fiberglass jumpers smashed his records. He said the brute strength aspect was lost. Let’s see.
It’s a long shot. Track and field athletes and golfers could lose endorsements. That’s why many NBA stars pass on the Slam Dunk Contest.
Still, golf needs a boost now.
Also, except at the Olympics, track and field is almost nonexistent in the USA, the sport’s greatest power. The last time track tried an unusual idea to lure casual fans, Michael Johnson, the Olympic 200 champion, faced Donovan Bailey, who had won the 100, in a hybrid 150-meter race. Johnson, trailing badly, pulled up “lame,” claiming a hamstring injury.
In 1974, pole vaulter Bob Seagren won the “Superstars” show, the first made-for-television “trash sport.” Seagren’s win brought respect for his athleticism.
Coming soon to a channel near you: Football without helmets?