MY MILLROSE UPDATE: GI DODDS 4:05.3 TO
YARED NUGUSE 3:47.38.
ALL-NEW EXPERIENCE: Checking out the Millrose Games action on home TV.
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – First it was a slight fall. Then the Covid. Then a touch of pneumonia. Then some cardiac distress. Then a hospital stay and a rehab visit, Then a Pacemaker. Then another hospital stay and another rehab visit.
So folks, it’s been a tough last seven-plus months, all after returning from my 18th trip to the World Track and Field Championships in Eugene. Yes, this was the 18th Worlds and I’ve been told – subject to ratification, of course – that I’m now the only USA journalist to have covered all 18 of them. But I may also be the only one of my distinguished press box colleagues to wind up on the injured reserve list after returning home.
Thanks to my wonderful family – dear wife Jo, daughters Sue, Judy and Liz, and grandkids, along
with some great medical folks, though, I am happy to report that I’m on the comeback trail.
Then again, it’s a slow, gradual process and I’m ‘hanging in there,’ as they say, through it all.
So that should explain to those who’ve been asking – and I’ve been told that quite a few have,
which is comforting - hey, where’s Elliott?’ – where I’ve been hanging out, lo, these many months.
Well, where have I been hanging out? Well, home, mostly.
Other than big family occasions, a goodbye gathering for a distinguished teammate – Mr. Bob Bazley - and wife Lisa, (both of them terrific therapists) who are moving to Maryland - visits to doctors’
offices, and occasional rides around town to keep up with noteworthy developments
- buildings going up, buildings going down - in the neighborhood.
But there have been many saving graces. Lots of good folks visited through my hospital/rehab stays.
Lots more have e-mailed their best wishes Many others got on the phone, A whole bunch more resorted to old-time tactics, i.e, the U.S. Postal Service.
So there you have it, and here I am.
Thank the heavens this is the age of immediate-if-not-even sooner, electronic communication.
Thanks to the networks being gracious enough to interrupt their steady diet of chatter/odd-ball
stuff/latest developments in the high-octane world of pro sports, to actually allocate a few precious hours of air time, to give our greatest of Olympic sports an hour or two, every now or then.
I’d been going to the Millrose Games for eons. My first Milrose days dated back to the Evander High version of me. Well remembered is scrambling up those endless steps to Madison Square Garden’s upper deck to grab a railing-side view of so many greats of the day cavorting down below.
Very first of those Millrose days was in February 1948. It was amazing/stunning/electrifying to see “The Flying Parson,” the Rev. Gil Dodds, crush a quality field – by at least a half-lap, as I remember – to take the Wanamaker Mile in the world-record time of 4:05.3. “Wow,” wasn’t good enough for that sizzling 11-lap performance on the Garden’s boards. Anyone there that night was sure they were seeing the first Olympic 1500-meter champion in a dozen years / or since Jack Lovelock’s epic Berlin win in 1936.
Alas, it didn’t happen. Never came close. He was injured and out of it by the London-bound team’s Olympic Trials. Then and there, I learned that such are the sometimes heartbreaking days of this sport.
By the way, Lovelock and I had Brooklyn ties. But his were the most horrendous possible – toppling off a subway platform. Mine were far better. Two of them. My mom was an alumna of Bushwick High. First date for Jo and I – circa 1960 – took us to the infamous Coney Island parachute jump. It scared the heck out of dear Jo and there’s been a mighty fright of heights in her ever since.
So many other great Millrose memories are still affixed to me, as all the years rolled by.
The great Wanamaker Milers who followed Gil Dodds: Don Gehrmann, Fred Wilt, Fred Dwyer, Ron Delany, Josy Barthel, Tom O’Hara, Jim Beatty, Kip Keino, Marty Liquori. Marcus O’Sullivan, Noureddine Morceli, Bernard Lagat, Matthew Centrowitz, Oliver Hoare.
The great dashmen: Andy Stanfield,Lindy RemiginoFrank Budd, Sam Perry, Mel Pender, Herb Wash-ington. Houston McTear, Leroy Burrell, Maurice Greene, Andre Cason, Shawn Crawford, Marvin Bracy.
The great hurdlers: Harrison Dillard, Elias Glbert, Hayes Jones, Willie Davenport, Rod Milburn, Greg Foster, Renaldo “Skeets” Nehmiah, Jack Pierce, Allen Johnson, Terrence Trammell, Devon Allen.
The great 400-600-800-1000 guys: Mal Whitfield, Reggie Pearman, Roscoe Browne, Tom Courtney, Tom Murphy, Arnie Sowell, Larry James, Martin McGrady, Bill Crothers, Rick Wohlhuter, Don Paige, Mark Everett, Johnny Gray, Antonio McKay, Butch Reynolds, Andrew Valmon, Donavan Brazier. The great distance men: Horace Ashenfelter, George Young, Sulemain Nyambui, Said Aouita, Doug Padilla, Reuben Reina. Ryan Hill.
The great leapers and vaulters: Bob Richards,John Thomas, Bob Seagren, Valeriy Brumel, Don “Tarzan” Bragg. Sergey Bubka, Dwight Stones, Franklin Jacobs, Jimmy Howard, Milt Goode, Billy Olson, Carl Lewis, Joni Huntley, Stacy Dragila, Jenn Suhr.
So many of my racewalking comrades: Todd Scully (whose 5:55.8 one-mile performance in 1979, first man to break six for the mile, made him the Roger Bannister of his event), Ray Sharp, Tim Lewis, Curt Clausen, Tim Seaman, Jon Hallman, Nick Christie, Rachel Seaman, Marie Michta-Coffey, Taylor Ewert .
So many other epic ladies: Madeline Manning, Wilma Rudolph, Wyomia Tyus, Gwen Torrence, Chandra Cheeseborough, Stephanie Hightower, English Gardner, Cheryl Toussaint,Jan Merrill, Mary Decker Slaney, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Michelle Freeman, Gail Devers, Doina Melinte, Joetta Clark Dgggs, Maria Mutola, Hazel Clark, Carmen Diane Dixon, Jearl Miles Clark, Carmen Douma, Ajee’ Wilson,
And so many more: The mighty shot putters, high school kids, the relay runners, the masterful Masters.
No longer at “The Garden,” where crowds in the 17-18,000 vicinity were routine, the Millrose Games moved up town – 135 blocks - to the Armory Track Center in 2012. All the expected transpired. Performances were even faster /more dazzling on the Armory’s superb 200-meter track. As the crowds shrunk by some 70 percent.
Bu t that’s the c’est la vie of indoor track and field these days. Great meets, great racing, great facilities all over the nation and the globe, great people running the show – at Millrose, Fred Schmertz, Howard and Judy Schmertz, Dr. Norbert Sander, Ray Flynn, Rita Finkel, Jonathan Schindel, Mike Frankfurt and more - and lots of great officials, but far fewer actual witnesses.
Yared Nuguse ( a sensational 3:47.38 Wanamaker Mile), Ryan Crouser, Christian Coleman, Noah Kibet, Chase Ealey, Katie Moon, Aleia Hobbs, Alicia Monson, Laura Muir, Abby Steiner and- yes, once again, staying unbeaten at the Armory for a an incredible 10th straight year, Ajee’ Wilson - delivered superb performances at the 115th edition of the Millrose Games, but generated far-far less attention. NYC – which once boasted seven daily newspapers, each with its own track and field “beat writer” - now is down to three. And “The Old Gray Lady” that still erroneously boasts it contains “all the news that’s fit to print,” didn’t bother to cover it at all. At least in the old fashioned way, with full story, often a columnist’s sidebar story, accompanied by complete agate-type full summaries. But let’s face it – those good old days may never be back. The sport – sadly but truly, at least in the USA – is beginning to be relegated to the once-every-four-years category by the m- m-m-m-mers (most major media moguls). Come Olympic year 2024, we’ll be in there with swimming, gymnastics,cycling, maybe rugby sevens.
Fortunately, however, NBC/Peacock gave it two full TV hours on Feb. 11. Thank you, execs at 30 Rock.
Thank you, Ato Boldon, Paul Swangard, Sanya Richards-Ross, Kara Goucher, Lewis Johnson. You stepped to the plate, took full swings, and got it done..Well, not all of it, as we’d wished, but most of it. But such is 2023 life in most-major-media-moguls’ fastest lane.
With no thanks to my assortment of difficulties, I had to sit this one out. But home TV was in excellent working order and the best of alternatives to actually being at the Armory. The NBC/Peacock crew was back in action week later at the USA Indoor Nationals in Albuquerque, again a meet I had (a) once competed in, when it was at the Garden, (b) got to cover for years and years and years. And years more.
Now to more current events: Just wanted to report that I’m making progress. The medical team tells me my vital signs are perking up. Good wife Jo and family are lending world-class support. There’s definite hope for better things ahead. Maybe even getting out of the house and tracking my favorites, live and in person. Someday soon. Don’t count me out. As General Douglas MacArthur famously put it. “I shall return.” Definitely maybe. Like the many 50K and 50-mile walks and London-to-Brighton 52.8-mile strolls in my dossier, it’s a clearcut case of one step at a time.
Save me a seat at Millrose 2024.