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In Warsaw in August I saw Iharos' second big try at the 5,000, against a field that included the great Czech runner, Emil Zatopek, winner of four Olympic gold medals. Iharos defeated Zatopek but he couldn't beat Jerszy Chromik, a surprising Pole who finished first in an excellent 13:55.2. But in September in Budapest, in his third major attempt at the distance, Iharos cracked Kuc's world record with 13:50.8. Eight days later Kuc raced back with a blistering 13:46.8. Then, late in October in Budapest, Iharos went all out, lowered Kuc's record by 6.2 seconds with a 13:40.6 clocking, and, in the course of the race, broke Chris Chataway's heart by passing the three-mile mark in 13:14.2, nine seconds faster than Chataway's world record!
Any other Hungarian feats? Well, in September, Rozsavolgyi ripped through 1,000 meters in 2:19 to tie Norwegian Audun Boysen's brand-new world record, set only three weeks earlier. Then, apparently just for kicks, Iharos, Tabori, Rozsavolgyi and Ferenc Mikes took a crack at their own 6,000-meter relay record and, naturally, broke it.
On October 2, Rozsavolgyi and Tabori went after Gaston Reiff's seven-year-old world record for 2,000 meters, which was 5:07. The result? Rozsavolgyi: 5:02.2. Tabori: 5:03. Another world record.
Thus, since you glanced over that world-record chart on May 1, these remarkable young men from Hungary have broken world records at the rate of one every three weeks and now own or share title to records at eight distances, rather than one.
How do they do it? The key seems to be a remarkable track-and-field coach named Mihaly Igloi, a stubby, sunburned little man of 47, who was appointed a "state trainer" in 1951 by the Communist regime in Hungary and as such became the coach of the Honved Army Club, which includes Iharos, Tabori and Rozsavolgyi, all of whom Igloi developed into great runners.
Igloi is a firm believer in intensive training. He is an advocate, too, of the European system of "interval running," which is now spreading to the United States. The athlete runs a series of fast quarter miles (or the equivalent 400 meters) interspersed with periods of walking or slow jogging between each. He'll reel off 10 to 20 quarter miles in each training session, as Roger Bannister did in his training (SI, June 20 and 27), with the idea of getting himself adjusted to the environment of the speed he must maintain in the race.
This regimen brings results, particularly when it is supervised by a stickler for conditioning like Mihaly Igloi. "Hard work," is Igloi's explanation for Hungarian success. "Hard work at the daily training sessions. Everything depends on the athlete's daily condition."
Sandor Iharos, who developed from a mediocre runner into a superb athlete under Igloi, finds time for 700 training sessions a year, though he is married and a father. The morning after his record-breaking two-mile in London he was up at 7 a.m., running in Hyde Park. The morning of his return to Hungary he left a call for 4:15 a.m., to be sure to have time for an hour's training before flight time.
Igloi also developed Tabori, who had run before entering the army but not particularly well. Tabori has since been discharged and has gone back to his job in a Budapest leather factory, but he continues to train under Igloi and was actually still in the army at the time of his 3:59 mile.
Rozsavolgyi is Igloi's real prize. He had been a soccer player and his first attempt at running did not occur until he attended an army sports meeting after he had been called into service. "When I watched him in this meet," Igloi said, "I knew he'd become a great runner. First, he ran 1,500 meters in full military dress. Ten minutes later he ran 5,000 meters. He won both easily, and considering he had no training before, it was a great performance."