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.

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By Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service (wmurphy25@aol.com), used with permission.

Clarification–Marathon Records

The IAAF (now World Athletics) didn’t recognize World Records in road races until 2004. They instituted course standards to determine if performance would be eligible for record consideration (USATF has the same policy). Boston, a “point-to-point” race (with runners sometimes aided by a tailing wind) and downhill in the early stages of the race, is one of the courses that doesn’t conform to those standards. While some would prefer we use the term “best,” we will continue to refer to relevant marks achieved in Boston (and elsewhere) before 2004 as American/World Records.

This Day in Track & Field–April 15


1928—Margaret Jenkins set an American Record of 129-1  ½ (39.25) in the Javelin in  Santa Clara, CA.

Was a 2-time U.S. Champion in the Javelin (1927,1928) and a 2-time U.S. Olympian in the Discus (1928,1932-9th)

San Jose Sports Hall of Fame: https://sjsa.org/margaret-jenkins/



1961—Romania’s Iolanda Balas cleared 6-1  ½ (1.87) in Bucharest to set the 11th of her 14 World Records in the High Jump.

WR Progressionhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_high_jump_world_record_progression

1967—Texas Southern, anchored by Jim Hines, ran 39.6 at Grambling to tie Southern University’s year-old World Record in the 440y-relay. Hines would win two gold medals (100,4×100) at the following year’s Olympics in Mexico City.

1972—Sweden’s Kjell Isaakson bettered his week-old World Record of 18-1 (5.51) in the Pole Vault when he cleared 18-2 (5.54) at the Meet of Champions in Westwood, CA (UCLA).


WR Progressionhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men%27s_pole_vault_world_record_progression

Peka Pavirinta and Neil Cusack (#30), Mariano Haro at 1973 World Cross Country, by Running in Cork, Ireland

1974Neil Cusack (2:13:39) of Ireland (and East Tennessee State) was the winner of the Men’s race at the Boston Marathon, with Tom Fleming (2:14:25) finishing 2nd for the 2nd year in a row. Finishing 3rd was Canadian Jerome Drayton (2:15:40), who would win the 1977 race.

Cusack was the NCAA X-Country Champion in 1972, the year that Steve Prefontaine was injured. There are some who say that Cusack would have beaten a healthy Pre on that day!

It was a breakthrough year for women in Boston, with 38-year-old Miki Gorman (2:47:11) leading three others under the 3-hour barrier. Finishing 5th, also under the previous Course Record of 3:05:07, was the legendary Kathrine Switzer (3:01:39).

A local resident named Larry Rawson was driving with friends to watch the marathon when he heard announcers on three different radio stations all saying that Cusack was from the University of Tennessee. Being an accomplished runner at Boston College and an avid fan of the sport, Rawson knew that wasn’t the case, but all he could do was shake his head as his friends dropped him off near the finish line so he could get a good view of the runners coming in.

As luck would have it, he found himself standing just a few feet away from one of those announcers, who appeared to be in the middle of a commercial break. Seizing the moment, Rawson offered the correct information on Cusack to the appreciative guy, who admitted he knew very little about what was happening!

As Rawson turned to go back to his viewing position, the young man grabbed his arm and said, “Please don’t go anywhere.” Before he knew it, Rawson was on the air for the next hour, offering insightful commentary and making the station look good. That impromptu performance led to a more significant role the following year, and, long story short, as he’s fond of saying, eventually led to a TV career that has lasted for 50 years! As noted this weekend in my “News/Links of Interest” report,  he will provide commentary (along with Paul Swangard) on today’s race for the International feed that goes out to more than 100 countries!

Cusack Remembers the Day (Great Read)http://www.letsrun.com/2009/cusack0416.php

1985—Lisa Rainsberger (then known as Larsen-Weidenbach) ran uncontested to win the Women’s race in Boston in 2:34:06 and remained the last female American champion at Boston until Des Linden won in 2018. Rainsberger placed fourth at the 1984, 1988, and 1992 U.S. Olympic trials.

Daughter Katie, one of the most sought-after recruits in the U.S. in 2016, finished 4th at the 2016 NCAA X-Country Championships to lead Oregon to the team title.

Rainsberger (right) being congratulated for her victory in the 1985 Boston Marathon by First Lady of Boston Kathy Flynn, while Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis looks on, by Wikipedia, Public Domain

Despite having to walk for a while due to leg cramps, England’s Geoff Smith, who was on course-record pace through the first half on a warm day (a blistering 1:02:51), was still able to repeat as the men’s Champion, winning by more than five minutes over Gary Tuttle (2:14:05-2:19:11).

This was the final year the race ended at the Prudential Center. The finish line was moved to its current location, near Copley Square Park, in 1986.


In Her Own Words(2007):




Geoff Smithhttp://www.garycohenrunning.com/Interviews/GSmith.aspx

1991—PPoland’sWanda Panfil (2:24:18) won the Boston Marathon over a field that included 3 past or future Boston cchampions-Germany’sUta Pippig (3rd-2:26:52/1994-1996), American Joan Benoit (4th-2:26:54/1979,1983), and NNorway’sIngrid Kristiansen (6th-2:29:51/1986,1989). 2nd in the race was American Kim Jones (2:26:40).

        KKenya’sIbrahim Hussein (2:11:06) won the MMen’srace for the 2nd time in 4 years (also won in 1988).




1996–The historic 100th running of the Boston Marathon attracted 38,708 official entrants and had 35,868 finishers, the most in history then. Germany’s Uta Pippig overcame a 30-second deficit and severe dehydration, among other difficulties, to become the first woman of the official era to win the race in three consecutive years.  

Kenya’ sMoses Tanui won the MeMen’sace in 2:09:16.