What An American Runner Can Do

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What An American Runner Can Do

On December 4, 2003, Track Coach editor Russ Ebbets sat down with Jim Beatty in Greensboro, NC, and they talked about Jim's running career and his relationship with Coach Mihály Iglói. Jim's performances of 40+ years ago would be a challenge for American milers to beat today.

 

TC: Jim, how did you get started in running?

JB: Well actually, Russ, I had a unique beginning. My sophomore year in high school they used to have boxing in the schools and we had a big tournament at my school in Charlotte, NC One day in gym we're going through some boxing lessons and suddenly somebody taps me on the shoulder and says, "Beatty, you're boxing in the tournament."
    I said, "Now wait a minute coach, I've never boxed in a tournament before." The coach said, "You're boxing in the tournament."
    At the same time I had a morning paper route, the Charlotte Observer. One thing I knew about boxing is that it required stamina. So I started running my paper route to get in shape for the boxing tournament.
    The boxing comes and I win my weight division championship. Now we go to junior year. I've got to defend my championship. The boxing season was always in late January, early February, and we're in mid-winter. I know once again I've got to start running my paper route to get back in shape for boxing.
    I could tell little by little that I was getting faster and faster. One night I'm boxing (we had three-minute, three-round fights). I'm boxing and at the end of it I'm so fresh I can't believe it. For some reason I say, "I bet I can run the mile."
    Ironically the boy sitting next to me in one of my classes is our number one miler. He's a senior, ranked #2 in the state. And I tell him, "Archie, you're not going to believe this-last night I was so fresh at the end of the fight I think I can run the mile!"
    So he says come out for the track team; we always need more milers. So anyway, I win the boxing championship again but I don't go out for track. You know how you are when you are young--you procrastinate.

Gymboss Timers

    But Archie is sitting beside me and every now and then he would say something like, "I thought you were coming out for the track team?" Finally we get into Holy Week of my junior year and Archie says something to the effect that I'd better hurry up, we've got a home meet on Friday and after that all our meets are away. I can tell you the coach isn't going to put you on the team to go out of town.

    So anyway that jolts me to reality. On Holy Thursday I went to a sporting goods store and bought a pair of track shoes. I'd never run around a track, never been to a track meet, but I knew there were four laps to a mile. But I have to prove to myself before I go out Friday that I can run one mile. So I got in my gym shorts, my new pair of track shoes and my high school t-shirt, do some warm-ups, stretching exercises, and I simulate being in a track meet. You know, runner take your mark, get set and then fire the gun. So anyway I run four laps.

    The next day I go back to the track and I go up to the coach, "Coach, you don't know me; I'm Jimmy Beatty, I'm a junior here at Central HS and I came down yesterday and I ran four laps for the mile. I'd like to run in the race today."

    And his first response was, "Jim, I can't let you run; you're a young boy. A young boy running a competitive mile without training background could harm himself and I can't let you run." Well I kept after him, "Coach, please let me run, please let me run." Finally he relented and he said, "OK, here's what you do, you line up behind all those boys and don't get in anybody's way. I'm going to let you run."

    So we start the race, we get to the first lap and I'm running third. The guy in front of me is our number two miler. He's a senior, the #4 miler in the state. Our number one guy, my seatmate Archie, is running first. So I'm coming around the turn, I'm kicking and I think I can get Glenn. I pass Glenn and now we're going down the straightaway and I think to myself I think I can catch Archie. Well about 15 yards before the finish line I catch Archie and I win the race (laughs). Mind you now, the mile record wasn't that fast, but anyway I broke our school record.


    So, everybody is stunned. The next week there is a well-known high school invite at Duke called the Duke-Durham Relays. It attracted schools from Virginia including traditional boys schools like Episcopal and Woodbury Forest, schools from South Carolina and North Carolina, and Georgia. The defending state champion in the mile from High Point, is a senior and he is also the defending champion at the Duke-Durham Relays.
    I'm officially on the team and we're going to the Duke-Durham Relays but I think that my coach wasn't quite a believer yet because I don't have a uniform. I still had my gym shorts and my high school t-shirt. But anyway we get to the Duke-Durham Relays and he puts me up front. He puts Archie back behind me and I look down to my left and there is the defending state champ and two up from him is the #3 miler in the state, a senior from Durham, and then all across the line different guys from elsewhere.
    We get to the last lap and I'm somewhere in the pack up the far straightaway. Coming into the turn, the defending champion is out front and I'm coming around the turn and I think maybe I can catch him. I'm way back because I don't know that much about racing tactics.
    I go after him and I don't catch him but it's just one body short of a photo finish. We both break the Duke-Durham Relays record.
    Now the next week is the conference meet and it's in his hometown, since they're in our conference. He's the defending champ. So we go to High Point, NC, right outside Greensboro, as a matter of fact. I'm starting to think about it. I need to stay on this guy's shoulder, not get so far back, and I thought maybe I could beat him. So that's what I do, and by the way I do have a uniform now, I finally got a uniform. I stay on his shoulder, come off the final turn, I kick and beat him. Now I'm conference champion.
    The next week is the state high school meet at Chapel Hill where he is the defending champion. So we go up there for the meet. Same thing, I say I'm going to stay back and I'm going to follow him and I'm going to out-kick him. And we go to the last lap and I'm probably 30 yards back, something like that, a considerable distance back more than I really wanted to be. And then that fear syndrome kicks in when you get into the turn with about a 220 to go and so I start making my move and little by little I'm closing on him, but I'm not really sure I can get him, to be honest with you. But five yards before the finish I catch him and I win the race and become state champion.
    So in the span of a month, never having run track or been at a track meet before, I am suddenly the state champion. And so as a consequence, I think maybe I should be a miler and stay with track. So then of course my senior year-the first thing that happened was that the state banned boxing-so I did not have to defend my championship which I was pleased about because I'm sure somebody wanted some part of me. But anyway I defended my state championship. I think I won the state meet by 120 yards or something like that.

TC: What kind of times were you running back then?

JB: I was running 4:30. Out of that came different scholarship offers including Notre Dame where I signed a grant-in-aid, but I decided to stay in state and that's when I went to Chapel Hill. But when I went to Chapel Hill I only had five months of track behind me.
    We did not have cross country in North Carolina back then and they also did not have the two-mile. So I ran one month in my junior year and then my senior year you could come out for track January 15th, so I had four months my senior year. They did have one indoor meet with all schools from throughout the Southeast, and that was my first exposure to indoor track and I won the invite 1000. So that was my basic high school background before I went to college.

TC: What is your involvement in track and field now?

JB: Since the late 70's, I have been chairman and also meet organizer of one or the other type of road race, many of them for charity, others not. We had the national marathon championships in Charlotte, and we had the Olympic Trials. I was chairman of all that. So I have been involved in that capacity most of the time since the late 1970's.
What I'm involved in now: 1) I am on the board of advisors for New York City's 2012 Olympic Organizing Committee. So I am involved with them in their bid to host the Summer Games in the year 2012.
2) Down here in North Carolina with a group of investors from other parts of the country I'm involved in the potential construction of a new state-of-the-art indoor track facility with a 1S,000-seat capacity-an eight-lane 200m track leveraged so that you can have it flat or banked. That's on the drawing board and coming to existence within the next two years and what we've been endeavoring to do is to host the National Indoor Championships, among other things, and then what we'll try to pursue is the World Indoor Track and Field Championships.

TC: You trained under Mihály Iglói when you experienced your greatest athletic accomplishments. I read one description of him as a coaching "Attila the Hun." What was he really like?

JB: (Laughs) First of all Coach Iglói was an absolutely brilliant man. I know there have not been a lot of coaches who had the aura, the appearance and the results-and really knew how to develop middle distance and distance runners.
    Iglói to this day is still the only one that I have ever known who actually had it reduced to an absolute equation. He knew exactly what "x" training over "x" period of time, what composition in the training could bring what result so many months later on whoever the athlete may be-not just myself; as you know in the old LA Track Club we had quite a cadre of runners. Iglói had supreme confidence in himself, his knowledge of track, and in his runners.
    The way Iglói's mind functioned was that there was a separation between church and state, the athlete and the coach, and if you came to him and asked him for assistance, to be your coach, then you would not be questioning anything that he did.
    So when I picked up my bag and moved from Charlotte out to California and went to Coach Iglói, what I said in essence was, "Coach, I want to put myself in your hands. I will do whatever you tell me to do to get me the type of results I think I can achieve."

TC: It was said, and you kind of just mentioned this, that Ig16i had a great depth and breadth of general education and derived his coaching philosophy from many disciplines. How was this evident in his daily training?

JB: I'm going to give you a double answer on this. First of all we had this sole philosophy that everybody adhered to: "Every day hard training must make." That was Igl6i's broken English. As a very young man he was a student of running, of training. As a young man, as a middle distance runner in Budapest, he would go in different seasons to Sweden, to Germany, to Finland, and he would do a training sessions under famous coaches of the day. Then he would go back and would experiment on himself.
He was trying to pull out what he thought was the best, put it all together, and maybe incorporate his own ideas and develop the Igl6i System of Training.
At the end of the Second World War he was in the Hungarian Army. With a lot of young men he was sent off to Siberia. This forced detention gave his mind time to formulate and bring together all the knowledge he had. And it was from that that he crystallized his system of training. Then he got out in 1949 and came back to Budapest and associated with his track club [Honved] and later also the national team and the Olympic team. In the mid-' SO's he had an incredible group of runners that broke all those records-Iharos, R6zsavolgyi, Tabori, Roz~yn6i the steep lechaser.
He came over here and did the same thing with the LA Track Club.
Now, having said that his philosophy was, "Every day hard training must make," his broader life philosophy was that you trained hard on the track but in every other aspect of your life you lived a normal life. You did not take the training and everything else home with you and agonize over it. Everything else was to be normal. Like you weren't even running track. And that was his philosophy.

TC: Did you really do 4:30AM workouts?

}B: (Laughs) 5AM, 5AM. This whole thing of athletes training today is different now; they do not have to work or hold a job. But, I'll just give you my regimen and also say that every single person on the LATC had a regular job. I would get up at roughly 4:45AM. Get to the track about 5:00. Train for an hour in the morning. Get back home about 6: 15AM. Do everything, shave, shower and have breakfast, leave for work about 7:15AM. I had an hour's drive to Pasadena where my job was with an insurance company. Allstate, as a matter of fact.
Then I would get off at 4:45pm. I would drive an hour to the University of Southern California. I'd get there roughly at 5:45. By the time I got changed and got to the track it was six o'clock and I would train from 6 to 8pm, then I would get in the car and drive home. Shower, eat dinner, go to bed at 10:30 or lIpm and start everything over the next day.
So we trained twice a day six days a week and once on Sunday. There were 13 workouts incorporating about 20 hours. Only three days off-generally Christmas, New

Year's and Easter.

TC: How long did you work with Igl6i?

}B: I worked with him just under 4 years.

TC: You kind of answered some of this, but for those not familiar with Igl6i how would you describe his weekly schedule, if you went into the components?

}B: Well, the way that you would describe it is that Monday and Tuesday would be hard training days. I would say Wednesday was like a medium-hard day. Thursday would be like a medium-light day. Friday would be a medium-hard day. Saturday would be a hard day. And we would also train once Sunday. It would not be unusual for us to drive to Santa Monica, you know where the pier is over there, and we would take an hour easy run by the ocean.

TC: What unique or innovative things did Igl6i do that have become commonly used today or even forgotten today?

}B: I don't think anybody has understood Igl6i's volume of short distance interval training with a huge variety of speed and tempos, a lot of variations of it, a lot of variations. But I don't know of anybody who has ever been able to duplicate it.

TC: Did he vary the recovery intervals?

}B: Yes, the recovery, everything was varied. Like if you were doing interval hard 150' s or very hard 150' s the interval was always 50 yards. Mind you then it was yards, not

meters. If we were doing 220's generally the interval would be 100. If we were doing 300's the interval would be generally 100. If we were doing quarters, and we did not do quarters that much, quite honestly, but if we were doing quarters, then the interval, depending on the intensity, could be 100m or 200 or whatever.
But always, in the afternoon, it would be a five-part workout. He would only tell you one part at a time. So you would do your warm-up, then you would do your first part. And the first part might be 10x100 very hard. And whenever you did 100m it was on the middle of the field. All you did was like a short loop, turned around and went back and started all again. Then once you finished that you would have 2x880 slow jog recovery and then go back for the next part. And that is how he would work it out.

TC: What type of pre-season conditioning did you do to prepare yourself for this hard type interval training?

}B: Once you got exposed to his coaching and training, from that point on the training was basically always the same, because what he was always trying to do was to build up your stamina where you could eventually absorb more training. After I had been with him two years I really did not think that you could train any harder than we were training and I remember one day he told me, "Now you have the stamina background, now the hard training can begin." I said to myself, "He's got to be kidding me." (laughs)

TC: The injuries. I've heard that there were a lot of people who got injured with this type of training. Is this true?

}B: Not true, no. I had that critical injury which unfortunately came when I was confronting Snell and Igloi had me geared for a 3:51-3:53. I had raced Murray Halberg in the 5k the week before at the Coliseum, just stayed on Murray's shoulder. I think I ran close to 21 seconds for the last 190, which is pretty good moving.
Then, unfortunately on my last hard workout on Tuesday my left leg collapsed. I wasn't sure what had happened. On Wednesday we went to Ducky Drake the trainer and track coach at UCLA, and he took me over to the sports med people. What had happened is I had suffered a collapsed quad in my left leg. But I was in such good shape I went ahead and ran and even with the collapsed quad I ran 3:55.5 [his PR] which indicates I must have been in really good condition.
Let me back up if I may, for those who may not understand. I'm talking about your "push" muscle. My left leg, that was my gun. You know, you cannot change gears with a collapsed quad. So I could no longer kick. Even with that 3:55.5 I was so far back, I don't even remember how far back I was, but someone who was clocking me, once I started moving, got me in 24.5 for the last 220. And that is with a collapsed quad.

TC: Who were some of the guys you trained with at that time? And do you still keep in touch?

}B: Laszlo [Tabori] is still in Southern California, Tabori still coaches. I think he's helping now over at Southern Cal, I think. I think Joe Douglas recently told me that. You
know Joe Douglas, Santa Monica Track Club. Joe trained with us. We were all teammates. We keep in touch. Bobby Seamon, once in

a blue moon. [Jim] Grelle, not in a long time. Bob Schul, he and I talk at least every year, maybe twice a year. So there are segments that I still try to touch base with.

TC: Next one is about Tabori. Were Laszlo Tabori and Sandor Iharos ever around and how did they like America? The way things were done here? Evidentially Tabori must have if he stayed.

JB: Well you know Coach Igloi and Laszlo, they came from Melbourne after the '56 Games and the October /November Hungarian Revolution. They did not go back.
I'm not really sure. Tharos may not have even gone to Melbourne. Rozsavolgyi did. But you know they were involved in the Revolution. Iharos might have actually gotten hurt during the Revolution. I don't think he went to Melbourne.
But anyway Rozsa went back to Hungary but he came right back, maybe starting in 1960, for

the American indoor season. He ran one or two races, I finally ran against him and beat him, maybe once in Cleveland and once at the National Indoor Championships in the old Garden.
I might also say talking about Tabori. Lazlo was of great comfort to me when I was finally exposed to Igloi training. When you are in a down cycle and training hard, and you really hate everything about it, Lazslo would just tap me on the leg and say, "You know, just trust the old man." And he was really very comforting.
Even though Lazslo was a teammate and I ended up beating Rozsa and him, they were all heroes of mine following that 1955 season. You know, I just couldn't believe their accomplishments.

TC: What was your relationship with Michel Jazy of France?

JB: Jazy and I were really good friends. We had this rendezvous

in Paris back in the 80's. I had a friend of mine contact Robert Pariente of the French sports newspaper L'Equipe to set up a reunion with Jazy. Jazy was working for adidas in France and I think also for Perrier water.
Hans Dassler hosted a luncheon at the adidas offices in Paris. And so we had this incredible reunion. I still think Jazy was the greatest French middle distance runner of all time. But anyway Jazy was really cute (laughs). We were standing up and we were both talking and being interviewed and Jazy put his arm around me and he said, "How did I ever let this little SOB beat me?" (laughs)

TC: Aside from you and Tony Waldrop the University of North Carolina is not know for producing many distance runners. What was your college experience like? Was Dale Ranson your coach?

JB: Coach Dale Ranson, yes. My college experience was really very good, not great. Part of the reason I came out of retirement was because I was never fully satisfied that I had reached my potential when I was at Chapel Hill. Coach Ranson always said, "Jimmy, I know you've got the ability to break a world record."
Now, leaving that aside, I won 11 individual ACC championships in three years (frosh were not allowed to compete then). I was hurt in the spring of my senior year, so I missed that part, but still I won 11 individual championships. That was just in the conference.
I was runner-up in the NCAAs three times. I have won an NCAA somewhere along the way. I know I should have. I should have broken an NCAA record, probably the twomile. I still think I should have won the NCAA cross country champion-

ships in East Lansing my senior year. I knew my time had come. I missed the junior year because I was hurt. What we didn't quite plan on was a blizzard. I have the photo that shows Buddy Edelen running behind me. And the snow, it was like 4" of snow, the snow was swirling. Everybody around me has got winter things, gloves, hats, long-sleeve shirts and I've just got a regular track uniform on. I don't have the right shoes on
and I 'm slipping and sliding. But anyway at the end I kick and I come in second. And I just felt that had the elements been correct or I had the right attire I would have won it. But I did not win it. (laughs)

TC: You lead into this. You had a long layoff after college. How long did it last and what motivated you to get back into it? There was not much support in those days, how did you manage?

JB: I didn't run for almost 21;2
years; it wasn't quite that, but almost. But in July of 1959 the second US I Russian track meet was being held in Philly. A friend of mine in Charlotte who had a men's clothing score was a real track fan. He called me one day and said why don't we go up to Philly and watch our boys against the Russians.
I said, "Jack, that's a great idea and I would love to." Some of my friends from Chapel Hill days were on the American national team.
We're sitting in the stands watching the 1500m run. The great Dyrol Burleson wins. His teammate was Jim Grelle, my later teammate on the LATe. Grelle runs second. Dyrol comes in first.
Now my friend turns to me and nonchalantly says, "Jimmy, you could have won that today." And I do not respond, maybe for about 30 seconds, and then finally

I say, "Jack, I think you are right." That kind of got my wheels turning and I started thinking. Do I still have it? Could I develop myself and do something that I have never done before or is it being foolish? The Olympic Games were the next year, and I'd always wanted to be an Olympian.
But there was a lot to consider. I was overweight, out of shape. You know the whole nine yards. So finally in September, after debating with myself throughout the summer, I go up to Chapel Hill to visit coach Ranson and I talk to him and I say, "Coach, I am contemplating trying for the Olympic Games next year. Do you think I could come to Chapel Hill and train with the team?"
And he, in essence, said, "Jimmy, you know you are always welcome up here; we'll do anything we can to help you. However if you are going to fully dedicate yourself, why don't you think about going to California with Coach Igl6i? You know he is the greatest coach in the world. He can develop your talent more than I can."
Well that was a big decision so I came back again to Charlotte and finally in very late October I made the decision and said, "Yeah, I'm going to give it another shot." And so I packed my car up, withdrew whatever money I had in the bank, turned in my resignation and drove out unannounced to California.
I arrived out there and walked up to Coach Igl6i, and said something like, "Coach, you might remember me; I'm Jimmy Beatty from UNe. . ." And he looked up and said, "Who is this fat man?" (laughs)
So I say, "Coach, I am here to see if you'll train me for the Olympics?" And so that really started our relationship.
He and Tabori had worked briefly at UNC when I was there. We'd shake our heads and say we did not see how he does it. And of course at that time I never had any idea I'd be doing the same thing.

TC: I wondered what the connection was...

JB: The connection was it was meant to be. God sent him. (laughs)

TC: Now how long did you compete after college? Up to what age?

JB: I retired before I intended to. The collapsed quad finally went through the healing process and I was, what, 28? I think that's correct, maybe 27. I had moved back in October to North Carolina. We were starting the North Carolina Track Club, Coach Al Buehler, and remember Cary Weisinger? The reason I had come back had nothing to do with Coach Ig16i, like there was not a parting of the ways. The then governor of North Carolina, Terry Sanford, was starting a program aimed at high school dropouts in the state and they needed someone to run it who could also go to the schools and talk to people. So the governor asked me if I could head up that program. And so I came back to do that for the state and for Sanford.
I'd only been back training about one month when I suffered a severe home accident late at night carrying out the garbage in the rain with Japanese thongs on. The garbage receptacles were on railings and the front ones were full and I was reaching in the back to pull the top off to put in the garbage at 10:30pm at night. My foot came down and the thong slipped off and the edge of the metal support rack

was like a knife, a ragged knife that gashed the ball of the foot which eventually required 27 stitches. I did not realize at the time; it was just this incredible pain but I was going up the stairs and looked down and every time I take a step this puddle of blood I say, "Oh my God, I've really cut myself badly."
So I call Coach Buehler and he takes me over to the Duke Medical Hospital and they stitch me up. It never really healed; it took almost 20 years for the pain of the scar tissue to disappear totally. I did start training again, roughly in late December-January, but the real fact of the matter (I was aiming for the '64 Olympics, you know, Tokyo) is I knew it was over and I really just went through the motions. I knew it was over, quite honestly.

TC: What do you feel was your greatest strength as a runner? How do you use that today in your career?

JB: One habit that anyone who is very involved in a sports program cultivates is time management. And I think that it was a real benefit that came out of my athletic particapation. And the other thing is developing a mission/ sense of purpose; I think of always moving forward with some sense of purpose.

TC: What were the months like prior to your running the fourminute mile at the LA Arena?

JB: In 1961 I had a great season and was ranked again as the #1 miler in the world. After the American national team meets in Moscow and the other ones that followed, I had been invited to run in individual meets. There were four or five of us including Frank Budd, Jerry Seibert who ran at Cal, and Earl Young from

Abeliene. As a group we went to meets including Bislett in Olso. In fact I think I broke Iharos's 1500m stadium record, which I think had been a WR at the time.
But anyway in Warsaw at the USA-Poland meet, I slipped on some concrete steps and hurt my buttocks muscle a bit. It was not enough to hamper me from competing and training. So I went on and in fact always thought one of my best races was against Dan Waern, the great Swedish runner. I was scared of him. I think one time he ran like a 51-second last quarter. And I'm saying, "That guy is good." But, anyway, I beat him. (laughs)
So I go to Oslo, and ran there and broke the American record for the 1500m. I came back home to LA in the latter part of September, maybe early October. I spent a month just doing low knee lift easy jogging on the grass until the buttock muscle healed.
While I am doing that I start thinking about the upcoming indoor season and it was like a light came on; I said to myself the time had arrived for the indoor sub-fourminute mile. So I started thinking, okay I am probably among the few people who can do that. Eight years after Bannister ran the first sub-fourminute mile surely it is time for the indoor sub-four.
After my buttock muscle heals, I'm ready to start regular training and I go to Coach Ig16i and have a frank discussion with him. "Coach I would like to be the first man in the world to run the indoor sub-four mile." I have one question for him, "Do we have time?" And by that I meant would I have enough time to achieve peak condition?
Ig16i, ever the brilliant coach, did not answer me. He closes his eyes and he's thinking ahead of the training I would undergo and he opens his eyes up and his only response is, "We have time." That's all he says, then he closes his eyes again. Now he's going meet by meet and he opens his eyes back up and says, "We will break the record on February 10 at the LA Times Indoor Meet." And so that was the target. That was it. And he had one footnote. His footnote was basically this: "The training will be very hard. I don't want to hear any complaints."

TC: How did you feel going into the race? Were you confident? Concerned? Who was your competition? Were there any discussions before hand of what would happen tactically...

JB: Yes, I knew I was in good condition and we had pointed for that. You know how when you achieve something like that your vision is a laser gun. It is just as simple as that. You rule out everything else. I even blanked out the world record. I was telling my son one time, "Imagine going into a race where your goal essentially is the world record in the mile and you do not even consider it; it's the sub-four you're focusing on.
Igl6i set the strategy and Tabori, Beatty and Grelle would all lead different parts of the race with a predetermined time as to where you would be. And if you arrived at that time then you know what you'd have to do the last quartermile to break four.
Tabori was to lead first, then I would take over, then Grelle, and then it's every man for himself. So Tabori who was like a built-in stopwatch was always right on target and I took over and went through the half also on target.
A crucial thing happened at the half-mile point. When the crowd

heard the half-mile time under two minutes they really started getting loud. Grelle is now running into the third quarter-mile. I had determined that just as we got to the start of the last quarter-mile that I would make my move. Somewhere before that I could feel that the tempo was slowing and it really started scaring me and I thought that we were losing anywhere from a second to a second and a half. I could just feel it. So I think I cannot afford to wait. I need to take over and I went ahead and did it.
Now the crucial thing for me at this point approaching the last quarter-mile mark, what I need to do is hear the time. That will tell me how much time we had lost, and how much time we had to make up over the last 400. The crowd was so loud I never heard the time!

TC: Wow.

JB: Wow, exactly correct.
At that point total fear took over and I ran every step from that point with everything that I had, not knowing what I had to negotiate to break four minutes. As it turns out if you ever see the tape of the race you'll see me hit the finish then make an almost instant "u" and go back to the timers to inquire what the time was. I think I said, "Did I make it?"
In reality everybody in the LA Arena and everybody that saw it on ABC Wide World of Sports knew I did it except me. I was the last person to know.

TC: How did running that four minute mile change your life?

JB: It changed my life because very few times does anybody in his particular field have an opportunity to be a first in the world. And from

high school to college to open LATC, etc., I have broken, as you know, tons of records, American, world, and what have you.
Most people do not know that and don't care about it. What they like to hear is, "That's Jim Beatty; he's the first man in the world (laughs) to run the indoor four," And that's it. It's that identity.

TC: You made several international teams during the Cold War. What was it like competing in those meets? Were there any enduring friendships that came out of that or was that not possible?

JB: No, it was possible. I would have to say that one of the great compliments was from the magnificent Gabriel Korobkov, the Soviet coach of the time. Bolotnikov, Kuts and Igor Ter-Ovanesyan remained close friends. Ter was later their national coach and remained a close friend over the years.
But anyway Korobkov invited me over one year to their Black Sea training camp. Igl6ihad planned for me to break the world record for the 5,000. At that time it was 13:35. He had me from 13:20 to 13:35. I think that is what the program was.
Korobkov saw the speed and my innate stamina in the five and ten and he wanted me to break Kuts's records in the five and ten. But I knew I couldn't do that because if I went to Coach Igl6i and said, "Would you mind if I took this season off and went to Korobkov's camp at the Black Sea?" that would have been the end of our relationship. But it was a great compliment, a great compliment.
Also Kazimierz Zimny and Witold Baran from Poland remained great friends. One year when they came over for the indoor meets, Baran brought me a gift. It was a photo book of Poland with a very nice inscription from him. Of course I had great compassion for what they were all experiencing under Soviet domination at the time.

TC: What is your most lasting memory as an athlete?

JB: (pauses) I think my most lasting memory was to be able to compete in international track and field with the USA on my shirt.
When I had first moved out to California after not having run for two years, almost two and a half years, who would have thought that in eight months, or whatever the

time frame was, I would break the four-minute mile, have the American record for the mile, three-mile and 5000m?

TC: Final thoughts?

JB: Sometime they almost seem to say it critically like we were dependent on Coach Igl6i, that he was a dictator, and that's not really the case. What they don't understand is what Igl6i allowed us to do as competitive athletes was not to have to worry about what to do exactly each day in training. You know an athlete who trains himself is always wondering, "Now, what do I do

Tuesday? What do I do Wednesday? If I do this, what schedule should I set up for next week?" Those who trained under Igl6i, we never had to worry once about what a workout was going to be.

JIM BEATTY'S BESTS
880y 1:49.6 1961 1500 3:39.4 1962 Mile 3:55.5 1963 2M 8:29wr 1962 5000 13:45.0 1962

He ran history's first indoor sub-4 mile in 1962: 3:58.9. He also won the Sullivan Award in 1961.

 

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