Coming as it did in a year in which Roger Bannister demonstrated his individual superiority over all the world's milers and Chris Chataway demonstrated his individual superiority over the great Russian runner, Vladimir Kuc, it was a statement that the sportsmen of the world might study before answering the larger question.
Arcaro of Virginia
The foxes of Virginia have been scampering away from hunters and hounds since long before the American Revolution, but it is doubtful that they have ever endured pursuit quite so unique, so grand, so frightening as that which materialized when the Piedmont Fox Hounds met at Philomont on Nov. 23 (mark well the date), 1954. It was on that occasion that Eddie (Banana Nose) Arcaro, premier jockey of the American turf, took his first crack at riding to hounds.
Jockey Arcaro, who had never heretofore assayed anything more uneven than the backstretch at Aqueduct, showed up for the hunt as the guest of Mrs. Richard Lunn (the former Liz Whitney) perched high on a huge hunter named William S. Hart. He was costumed in a cap, a windbreaker and jodhpurs, and looked, among all the big folks in pink coats, something like an exercise boy up on an elephant. His stance was definitely lopsided, for he rode with "acey-deucey stirrups" (the right higher than the left, racing style). Said he, grinning, "I can't get legitimate overnight." But he spurred resolutely to the head of the field and took the first jump?a 4-foot 4-inch fence?like a flea on a kangaroo.
He was startled, nevertheless, by the way William S. Hart went sailing through the air, and in the next flat stretch he hustled along beside top Brush Rider Emmett Roberts and begged plaintively for advice on staying alive. "Grab a handful of mane and hang on until you get the swing of it," cried Roberts. Arcaro was shocked. "Right out here in front of everyone?" he asked incredulously. "Sure," bawled Roberts. "Go ahead." Arcaro hung on. But after a few more jumps his years on horses began to tell; he got "his feet off the dashboard" and leaned into the jumps. In one 80-minute, 15-mile chase after a red fox (which finally retreated to its den) Arcaro took 25 assorted stone walls, fences and chicken coops without blinking an eye.
When the day was done, the old amateurs of hunting were unanimous in their judgment of Old Pro Arcaro: "Cool head, stout heart, good hands, firm seat." Arcaro, however, was still breathing a little hard last week. He confessed: "I sure felt like a gone guinea going over that first one."
The Sugar Bowl Mile
Shortly before the "Mile of the Century" at Vancouver, B.C. last summer, certain thinkers at the National Broadcasting Company had a vision which all but blinded them?why not show the Bannister-Landy struggle on a split screen in the U.S. and devote the other half to a picture of Kansas' Wes Santee racing them by remote control at some track in the States? The delicious scheme fell through?Santee was busy undergoing summer training as a Marine Corps reserve officer?but his feud with the two four-minute milers was only delayed. Next week he will set out to run them into the ground on the track at New Orleans' Sugar Bowl.
Both Landy and Bannister, of course, are now retired, leaving San-tee?apparently the only man alive capable of matching them?as a sort of Robinson Crusoe of the world of track. But to gain the glory he is absolutely certain he deserves he must still conquer them in absentia. From the day he got back to Kansas from Quantico last September he has been training with lung-cracking devotion not only to break the four-minute barrier himself (he ran 4:00.6 and 4:00.7 last June) but to exceed the best performances of his ghostly rivals.
Santee, a tall, stick-thin wire-muscled fellow (6 feet 1 inch, 146 pounds), is still holding forth at the University of Kansas at Lawrence?he is no longer eligible for intercollegiate competition but will not complete his undergraduate work in physical education until this June. He began his autumn conditioning program by running from four to six miles a day around the hilly Kansas campus and by subjecting himself to speed sprints afterward. Since Thanksgiving Day he has been applying himself to what Bannister and Landy call "interval running" and what he terms "paced quarter miles" on the track in the cold, empty Kansas football stadium.