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)

This Day in Track & Field/X-Country–March 28


1903–The first-ever International X-C Championships were held in Hamilton, Scotland, and involved only one race (men–12.9k) among the 4 British “home” countries–England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. England’s Alf Shrubb won the first of his two consecutive titles.

Alf Shrubb wore shoes made by Joe Foster, who became Reebok. Reebok was purchased in 1981 by Paul Fireman and the rest is history.


Wiki Biohttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Shrubb

1914—Elliot Ballistier, a junior at Morris H.S. in the Bronx, won the 880y at the Clinton Games in 2:04.8 to set the first of what would become a multitude of National High School Records at NY’s Armory over the next 100+ years.

The next time you visit the Armory, take the time to notice the small plaques on the wall as you walk up both sets of stairs to the track level. They commemorate every record (H.S., College, American, World) set at the Armory (the brainchild of Jack Pfeifer)!


1943  Cornelius “Dutch” Warmerdam jumped 15-8  ½ (4/79) in Chicago to set his last World Indoor Record in the Pole Vault. http://oldserver.usatf.org/HallOfFame/TF/showBio.asp?HOFIDs=178


1959–In a great Shot Put competition in Santa Barbara that featured three past and future Olympic Champions (and World Record holders), 18-year old Dallas Long (1964 gold) equaled Parry O’Brien’s  World Record of 63-2 (19.25m) to beat Bill Nieder (62-9 [19.12+m]/gold-1960) and O’Brien (62-1/4 [18.90+m]/gold–1952-1956).

1965—When Lieutenant Billy Mills, the winner of the 10,000-Meters at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, was told by U.S. Marine Corps Special Services that he had been invited to compete in a race appropriately called the Cinque Mulini(Five Mills) Cross Country event in San Vittore Olona, Italy, he immediately accepted, since the event organizers had also invited his wife Patricia to join him on the trip, which would include some sightseeing in Rome.

But the AAU, the U.S. governing body then, wasn’t happy with the arrangement. Said Mills, “They informed me Patricia could not go! Our AAU would not allow her to accept her invitation, and if she did, I would lose my amateur standing and no longer be allowed to compete in the sport of track and field, cross country, or road racing”.

When the hosts were told that Mills would have to decline the invitation, they devised a creative solution. “Patricia became the guest of the people of San Vittore Olona, Italy”, said Mills. “We were told they went door to door collecting donations for Patricia’s expenses. The compassion, unity, and commitment they displayed in getting her to their community is forever etched in the depths of my heart and soul, filling Patricia and me with love, respect, and thanks for their kindness”!

With the AAU’s approval, Mills and his wife made their way to Italy, where Billy could now concentrate on the unique race, including running through the 5 mills lined the 12k course. “When we jogged the course yesterday, I noticed running through five wheat mills could be challenging if you are in a tightly bunched group of lead runners. Also, I don’t hurdle very well, so jumping over various obstacles, including ditches, could be extra dangerous for me. My decision was to lead from the start”! He did and went on to win by almost 30 seconds, an unheard-of margin of victory in this prestigious event.

For Mills’s full account of the trip (along with photos), go to:


The race has been held continuously since 1933 and is currently part of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour. Here are some of the notable past winners:

Men: Michel Jazy (FRA/1962, 1963), Kip Keino(KEN/1969), David Bedford (GBR/1972), Frank Shorter(USA/1973), Filbert Bayi (TAN/1975,1976), Rob DeCastella (AUS/1983), John Ngugi (KEN/1989), Paul Tergat(KEN/1996,1998), Kenenisa Bekele (ETH/2002). Others who competed included Great Britain’s Seb Coe and Steve Ovett.

Women: Grete Waitz (NOR/1978-1982, 1984), Faith Kipyegon (KEN/2014, 2016), Letesenbet Gidey (ETH/2018).

American women succeeded in the 1980s, with Margaret Groos winning in 1983, Betty Jo Springs in 1985, and Lynn Jennings in 1986 and 1987.

Jenny Simpson writes about her experience at the 2014 edition in the article linked below(Tracksmith).