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The Golden Mile: The torch is passed
Kenny Moore
March 13, 1980
On a mild, midsummer's evening, Sebastian Coe took the world record in the mile from John Walker. The author traces the threads of motive and commitment that led to Oslo
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March 13, 1980

The Golden Mile: The Torch Is Passed

On a mild, midsummer's evening, Sebastian Coe took the world record in the mile from John Walker. The author traces the threads of motive and commitment that led to Oslo

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Scott, Walker and Masback were back at war the next night, racing over 1,500 meters in Lausanne, Switzerland. "Walker had been discouraged that I had beaten him in Oslo," says Masback. "He went wild to get me back in Lausanne. Which he did, by the chest hairs." Both finished in 3:37.9, behind Scott's 3:37.7.

Coe and his father flew home the morning after the race. "The house was under siege," Sebastian says. "Cars everywhere, cameras, cables. The room was white with light, and there was plastic sheeting over everything." As he walked in, the phone rang and he picked it up. A good Yorkshire accent from the Hallamshire Harriers said, "Hey, if you don't get your forms in for the agricultural show race, you'll not be in."

"I'm home all right," said Coe.

That afternoon he went for a relaxing run, up along the shore of the Howden Reservoir in the Derwent Valley. The land is part of the Peak National Park. Great old rhododendrons and pines come down to a stone wall beside the road.

Coe let his thoughts run free. "I was just glad, blissfully glad to get away from everything," he says. "Right after a race the difficulty is to find your sweatsuit and get your shoes changed and give some sort of gentle answer to excited, dumb questions, the most frequent being, 'How do you feel?' when I don't know yet how I feel."

Now, gazing out at the moors across the lake, he knew how he felt, and it wasn't historic. "I have other races to run," he thought. "It may be years yet, if ever, before I come to think of the Oslo mile as a landmark."

Then, turning for home, a clearer idea came, one he surely would share with Walker. "These records are only borrowed," he would say, "precious aspects of the sport, temporarily in one's keeping."

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