A Runners Reminiscence

Posted by jlubans on August 05, 2021

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Caption: from left Andy Steele, John Lubans, George Davis, Mike Glynn, Bruce Grigsby and Coach Jim Morrow

The Tokyo Olympics have prompted memories of days gone by, when I was an aspiring runner. The photo takes me back to 1960, however misty my recollection.
There I am, a callow youth, posing with my relay teammates with the winners trophy, a Thanksgiving turkey-size platter!
Wed won the prep school one mile relay at the Penn Relay Carnival in Philadelphia.
I was the alternate for the race; happily along for the van trip from Boston to Philadelphia. When George Davis pulled a muscle, I got the nod to take his place.
The Penn Relays at Franklin Field (yes, named after that Franklin) has been around since 1895 and on the day of the race many thousands were in the stands. Probably not near the capacity of 52,000 but more spectators than I had ever seen at a track meet.
I was to run the second leg of the race; somehow I managed to focus, ignore the crowd noise and chatter from the other runners, and wait for the baton to arrive.
Wed practiced and practiced handing off without looking back.
Would I start too soon, would I exceed the passing zone, would I drop the baton?
Some of the Tokyo relay races show what happens when things go wrong at the baton pass: disaster.
Amazingly, the baton slapped into my hand and I high-tailed it down the track for 440 yards. Whatever our position at the time, I did not give up any ground to other runners.
I handed off to Mike Glynn (much to my relief, Mike and I didnt bumble the exchange) and he handed off to our anchor, the teams best runner, Bruce Grigsby. Bruce lived up to his billing and sprinted away to glory.
In a way, how I ran that race in 1960 defined my leadership into the future. I did my best (my time was the second fastest of the four) and supported my team mates.
In short, I was an effective follower and a good team player. To put it musically, never a conductor but Id be a pretty good first violin.
Once I left Huntington School, only Bruce Grigsby would reconnect with me. All of us went our separate ways to different colleges; I regret not staying in touch. Even without the Internet, we could have been in contact, but thats what happens with too many guys like me we dont network very well.
It took me 50 years to reach out to another former running friend from my high school days. I am glad I did.
Theres probably a moral in there; for me, dont let your friends slip away, especially if you are a guy.

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Copyright all text John Lubans 2021

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