Walt Murphy is one of the finest track geeks that I know. Walt does #ThisDayinTrack&FieldHistory, an excellent daily service providing the true geek’s 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.

This Day in Track & Field–February 6

Walt Murphy’s News and Results Service  (wmurphy25@aol.com)

(c)Copyright 2024-all rights reserved. May not be reprinted or retransmitted without permission.

Used with permission on RunBlogRun.com 

 (’54 Millrose, ’81 Millrose–Greatest Ever?, Suzy Favor, D.Komen, 4×800 WR, Andrews, Lagat, Drew Hunter/Born On This Day-Peter Farrell/R.I.P.-Spec Towns, Ira Murchison)

1954—This year’s Millrose Games featured a number of gold medalists from the 1952 Olympics.

 Luxembourg’s Josy Barthel (4:07.5) the winner of the 1500-Meters in Helsinki, was an easy winner of the Wanamaker Mile in front of 15,000 fans in Madison Square Garden.

Mal Whitfield won gold at 800m and 4x400m in London in 1948. In WW2, he was a tail gunner for the Tuskegee Airmen, photo by Wikipedia Commons.

Mal Whitfield, who won his 2nd Olympic gold in the 800-meters, scored an impressive double, winning the 600y( 1:10.7) 70 minutes after winning the 880y (1:54.2).

Horace Ashenfelter (Steeplechase) won the 2-mile for the 3rd year in a row, setting a Meet Record of 8:53.3 and a World Record of 8:17.7 en-route for 3000 meters.

Harrison Dillard served in famed 92nd Infantry, aka Buffalo Soldiers in 1943. In London 1948, won 100m and 4x100m. In 1952, Harrison won 110m gold and 4x100m hurdles. Photo by Wikipedia Commons.

Harrison Dillard (110-Hurdles) in the 60y-hurdles (7.2/=Meet Record) and the Reverend Bob Richards in the Pole Vault(14-4 [4.37]) extended their winning streaks at Millrose to 8. Clearing 14’ for the 1st time was future great Don Bragg, a freshman at Villanova.


1981–This was indoor track at its best. A capacity crowd of 18,201 packed Madison Square Garden for the Millrose Games and the athletes responded with a night of records. Track and Field News’ Garry Hill called it “arguably the greatest indoor track meet ever held” and few would argue with his assessment.

            It “only” resulted in a meet record, but the Wanamaker Mile stole the show as Eamonn Coghlan won the race for the 4th time, running 3:53.0 and just missing his world record of 3:52.6. With (former USATF CEO) Craig Masback, clad in a colorful pink outfit, setting the early pace, Coghlan  passed leaders Ray Flynn and Steve Scott on the last lap and pulled away for the win.

Flynn finished 2nd in 3:53.8, which stood as the fastest non-winning time in the history of the Wanamaker Mile until Matthew Centrowitz ran 3:51.34 behind Lopez Lomong’s winning time of 3:51.21 in 2013. Germany’s Thomas Wessinghage was 3rd in 3:54.7, followed by Scott in 3:55.0. Flynn has been the Millrose Games Director since 2012.

Track & Field News cover, 1981, Alberto Salazar, #trackandfieldnews

            The Men’s 5000-meters produced World and American Records as Tanzania’s Suleiman Nymabui (13:20.3) beat Alberto Salazar (13:22.6), who had led for most of the race. Salazar had last raced in New York the previous fall when he made his marathon debut by winning in 2:09:41.

            Nyambui was timed correctly by the chief timer, but the other timers realized too late they were standing in the wrong spot! The place times, including Salazar’s AR, were arrived at by looking at the NBC tapes of the race. Meet director Howard Schmertz, mindful of the potential controversy concerning the times,  said later, “We were very conservative in the adjustment.”

            Another WR came in the men’s 1000 yards as Don Paige ran down former Villanova teammate Mark Belger to win in 2:04.9, while Joni Huntley set an American Record in the Women’s High Jump (6-4  3/4/1.95).

            Running in the Invitational 800, Plainfield H.S. senior John Marshall finished 2nd in 1:50.7 to set a  National High School Record.

NY Times Coverage  Sports Illustrated Vault   Results

Wanamaker Mile Winnershttp://www.runningpast.com/wanamaker_mile.htm

2014—Just five days after setting a World Record of 3:55.17 for 1500 meters, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba got a 2nd global best by running 8:16.60 for 3000 meters in Stockholm to smash Meseret Defar’s previous mark of 8:23.72.

IAAF Report: https://www.worldathletics.org/news/report/genzebe-dibaba-world-indoor-3000m-record-stoc