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Tex Maule
February 19, 1962
The starter's gun in Los Angeles sends off Jim Beatty (second from right) on the fastest indoor mile ever run. The field from the pole: Tabori, Beatty, Grelle, Close, Martin.
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February 19, 1962

History On The Boards

The starter's gun in Los Angeles sends off Jim Beatty (second from right) on the fastest indoor mile ever run. The field from the pole: Tabori, Beatty, Grelle, Close, Martin.

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"The book is the book I keep on all my athletes," Igloi went on. "In this book, I have written down that Beatty cannot run better than four minute two or three seconds at that time in late January. I show him that he will run under four minutes indoors between February 10 and February 20. I show him the time I have write down."

Beatty, drinking a beer and eating Hungarian goulash, broke in. "He wrote down 3:58.8 for February 10," he said. "That's almost what I ran tonight."

Igloi may have underestimated Beatty. As originally planned—and this attack on the indoor mile record was very carefully planned—the Los Angeles Track Club runners were to pass the three-quarter-mile mark in 2:58, with Jim Grelle setting the pace at that point. Then the rains came. "It started to rain Wednesday," Beatty said. "We had finished our heavy training and we would have sharpened up Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But we couldn't work the way we wanted to. It threw the timing off a little."

Laszlo Tabori led for the first two laps of the race. Tabori, who has been running for Igloi for many years, has a built-in stop watch; probably no other runner in the world today can run as close to a prescribed time for a quarter mile as he can. Beatty took the lead from him just as they finished the first quarter. Igloi had wanted a 59-second first quarter and Tabori ran it in 59.1.

Beatty kept the lead for the next quarter; the lack of sharpening work did not show here, because he turned the half-mile in 1:59.6, only 1.5 seconds off Igloi's schedule, and Beatty does not have the same innate sense of pace that Tabori has. Going into the third quarter of the mile, Jim Grelle, who had upset Dyrol Burleson in a mile race in Portland, Ore. the week before this meet, took the lead. ("You knew we were shooting for a record when I took the lead then," Grelle said later, grinning. "I don't jump into a lead at the half.")

Grelle led the field around two laps, with Beatty hanging close to his heels, the rest of the field dropping far back. As they went into the eighth lap (11 laps to a mile on this track), he fled past Grelle in a few strides, then began to pull away rapidly. Los Angeles fans are informed track spectators, and at this meet, as at most meets in this area, the public address announcer was a track expert who called lap times during the race. As Beatty moved out, the full house began a steady, mounting roar that grew and grew as it became clearly apparent that Beatty's sprint would continue to the tape. When Beatty finished the race almost everyone in the arena knew that he had broken four minutes. When they heard his time, they howled.

"This is not best," Igloi said that night at the Hungarian restaurant. "This I think is near best for indoor mile at this time in training schedule. Could be much better if he ran indoors in June, when he is at peak."

"What will he run outdoors in June?" someone asked.

"Between 3:51 and 3:53," Igloi said. "Vorld record. First quarter, 56 or 57. The half mile, 1:54, 1:55. The three-quarter, 2:54. Then the last quarter mile 58, 59 second. Vorld record."

Beatty leaned across his wife to shake hands with Igloi. It was a rather formal handshake. "That's the first time he ever shook my hand after a race," Jim said. "I've waited a long time for this."

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