Andrew once described the place running holds in his life to a
reporter. "This is only a hobby," he said, "perhaps my largest hobby, but if a best friend had a birthday party or something, I'd go to it instead of working out."
Tom Bryan is a business major at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. In 1971 he was an NAIA All-America as a half-miler. But Loras wasn't comfortable for black students in those days, so Bryan dropped out for a while. Now he is 26 and back in school, but when he's home in Chicago during the summer, Stagg Field is the focus of his days. There are people to talk to and kid around with.
Balanced lightly on his bicycle seat, the toe of one running shoe touching a pedal, the other stretched to the ground, wearing a chain for locking his bike like a bandolier across his chest, Bryan throws a calculatedly sleepy look sideways at the white-haired coach, who pretends not to be listening, and drawls mockingly in his high, reedy voice, "Let's just say that Ted Haydon is a credit to his sport."
That draws an appreciative chuckle from Haydon, a big, pink-faced man in a spotted windbreaker and dirty golf cap with stopwatch strings hanging from all his pockets. Edward Morgan Haydon, 63, can squeeze a week's worth of activity into an 18-hour day, but the greatest of his talents is looking, at any one moment, as though he has nothing at all to do. Margaret Mead once suggested that a flock of her fellow anthropologists be assigned to follow Haydon for a few days to figure out how he operates, but no such flock has ever gotten itself into good enough condition to try.
Haydon is a ragtime piano-playing sociologist who coaches the University of Chicago's varsity track team for a living. Twenty-five years ago he founded the University of Chicago Track Club to give athletes who had graduated a chance to keep on competing. But one thing led to another, as they will with Haydon around, and the UCTC (pronounced yoocy-teecy by its members) developed into one of the most extraordinary athletic clubs in the country. It attracts out-of-school athletes from all over the Midwest while at the same time providing training facilities and competition for Chicago-area runners of all ages and skills who otherwise would have to do without. Through it all Haydon has been the low-keyed driving force.
"Ted is best behind the lines," says Wohlhuter. "He's the kind of guy who will do the work and let the others take the credit. I run, and get all the publicity, but he's part of what I have done, maybe a big part."
Within the hierarchy of U.S. track and field, however, Haydon's abilities have been recognized for years. He was coach of the American distance runners at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 and again at Munich in 1972; in 1958 he managed the first American track team ever to compete in the Soviet Union; he was head coach for the U.S. team in the 1961 Maccabiah Games, and track and field chairman for the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago.
At Mexico City, Jim Ryun met Haydon in a practice area about half an hour before the 1,500-meter final. Ryun said, "Say a little prayer for me, Ted." Haydon said he would, and Ryun started down toward the field. He was delayed at a registration desk, and the two met again in the tunnel leading to the track. Haydon said, "Jim, I've decided I'm not going to say a prayer for you after all." Ryun, mildly surprised, asked, "Why not?" "Because," said Haydon, "I'm going to save that for something important." After the Olympics, Ryun wrote Haydon a note, saying that was the best thing he could have heard at the moment, that it put things into perspective.
Haydon's club has produced a world-record half-miler in Wohlhuter and a world-record two-mile relay team in Tom Bach, Ken Sparks, Lowell Paul and Wohlhuter. UCTC has a five-time national champion in triple jumper John Craft, and it has had nine athletes on four Olympic teams—shotputter Brian Old-field, pole vaulter Jan Johnson, sprinter Ira Murchison, steeplechasers Deacon Jones and Phil Coleman, hurdler Willie May and race walker Chris McCarthy, besides Wohlhuter and Craft.
Because of Haydon and UCTC the university's facilities—Stagg Field and the cavernous old Fieldhouse, with its 220-yard dirt track—are open all year round. The club puts on 30 open track competitions a year, ranging from the big Holiday Meet in December, which last year drew 517 participants, to a series of Sunday development meets outdoors in the spring that provide competition for those who are not up to the level of the club's regular Saturday affairs.