Peck's personal Web site
of Kansas Track and Field,
for the nice KU logos, this is not a very colorful page . . .
is the lovely trophy that someone probably still shows off proudly on his or her
mantlepiece, won by us in Austin, Texas, in April 1967 [clickhere for a few press photos of
the event]. The co-conspirators are Gary Ard
(200m), Ben Olison (200m), Coach Bob
Mr. Peck (400m), and Jim Ryun
(800m) on the occasion of breaking
the world record in the sprint medley relay. The time was
3:15:2, if memory serves -- they didn't measure to
the hundreths of a second in those days. And they also, in those days, ran on
mucky cinder tracks instead of today's nice astroturfy stuff. In addition to the
handsome faux-bronze trophy, each competitor received a self-winding watch (they
also didn't have tiny batteries then -- self-winding watches
seemed like the wave of the future) with hands made of two big University of Texas
that season, Mr Peck and Mr Ryun,
joined by Tom Yergovich and Curtis
Grindal, broke the
world record in the distance medley relay in Des Moines,
Iowa, in 9:33.8 [Mr Peck's split was 45.6 for 440y [i.e. 45.3 for 400m]], and
got just as little to show for it. In the 1960s, a good performance in track and
field would, if you were really lucky, earn you a colorful thick wool blanket
with the logo of the track meet embroidered in the middle of it. Good for picnics,
useless for any kind of resale.
[That's not the end of the blankets; another one showed up 41 years later. See below.]
no year went by, between the early-mid-1950s and the late-1960s, when the University
of Kansas did not
win the USA national title in either autumn cross-country, winter indoor track
and field, or spring outdoor track and field, or more than one of these.
Here's Mr Peck,
in 1966, receiving a relay baton handoff from Steve
Ashurst. (Mr Ashurst and Mr Peck both came to Kansas on scholarship
from the east coast of the USA, where they were friends and rivals in high school
and placed 1-2, in varying order, in many east coast juniors championships.) The
precise occasion of this photo is uncertain but it was probably the United States
NCAA indoor track and field championships, at Cobo Hall in Detroit, in which the
University of Kansas "Jayhawks" won the national
team title. For this one, we received a nice ring that was too
heavy ever to wear and which went walkabout within about a year and a half.
This one shows Mr Peck
repaying the favor, passing off the relay baton to Mr Ashurst. Who knows where
this one was taken, but by whom, well, that's known: Rich
Clarkson was an excellent Sports Illustrated
photographer who used to follow us about looking for good shots of Jim
Ryun, the world recordholder in the mile and lots more, and whilst
cooling his heels between mile races he kindly popped off a few flashbulbs on
the rest of us.
succeeded Wild Bill Easton as Head Coach in 1965 and guided Kansas to a number
of championships, and was not stinting in encouraging his athletes. One hears
that he has now retired and maintains a crosscountry running course in the Lawrence,
was taken at the Big Eight indoor championships, Kansas City, 1967.
Peck was, by the way, Captain of the Track Team in 1967 (longjumper Monsieur Ard
was Captain of the Field Team), which means that Peck frequently got to shake
hands with fat dignitaries and receive the team
trophy even when, in his own races, he fell down and writhed about
on the track without finishing......
. . as, for example, on this occasion, when, whilst vying just at the finish
line for 2nd place in the Big Eight Midwestern USA championships, 1967, Mr Peck
was surprised to find only one knee still functioning and disappeared abruptly
from the television screen (to his wife's consternation back in Kansas). The illiberal
judges determined that, though about half of Mr Peck had already crossed the finish
line in 2nd or 3rd place, it was the wrong half!!!
Story of his life!! But, no worries,
later in the day, stoked full of enough opiates to keep a light airplane on the
ground in Santo Domingo, Mr Peck rallied reluctantly and helped to bring the mile
relay in to win the team championship for Kansas on points.
the same, at that very time, whilst Mr Peck was carrying on bravely with these
sporty things and thereby (just barely) paying the bills and getting a certain
amount of state college wisdom pounded in and staying up late trying to write
bad poetry, these two little guys were taxing his stamina and frequently making
him sigh. These wee ones are Alison Peck and Deirdre
Peck, what a bundle they were in those days.
was rather a long journey, track-and-field wise, from high school days . . . .
high school chappies from New Jersey on the occasion of setting a USA national
juniors record for some forgotten relay event, Buffalo, New York, 1963 -- all
four were New Jersey state high school champions in one thing or another: Ben
Doyle of Rahway, D. Peck of Pascack
Valley, Coach Carter, Ernie Pelligrino of Perth Amboy, and Steve Ashurst of Our
Lady of the Valley in West Orange, N.J.]
. . to that same ageing fellow thirty years on and knees-wise a lot the worse
for wear, in the Morat to Fribourg (Switzerland) marathon . . . .
IT. Well, not exactly winning
it, but nevertheless coming in somewhere in the top 25% of his age class
. . . . [They are, however, sooner or later going to run out of age classes].
(left) smiling to well-wisher(s) before setting out in 1990 to run over Ben
MacDui and the Cairngorms, from the Linn of Dee in the Scottish
Highlands to Loch Morlich near Aviemore, in what turned out to be a significant
snowstorm on top, in 4:21 hours. A few days later he ran back from Aviemore over
the Lairig Ghru to Linn of Dee in
4:53:14, and a few days later (right), over Beinn
Dearg from the center of Scotland to the coast at Ullapool, in
fairly chilly rain, in 7:06:44. 1990
was a peak year, and
Sir Charles Berman provided valuable assistance by driving back-up and studying
Joseph Conrad novels in Highland coffee shops whilst awaiting Mr Peck's descent
from the boggy heights.
after a lot of complaining about the track-and-field establishment, in the end,
the aged fellow confesses that he got a college education out of it, undergraduate
anyway, where otherwise he wouldn't have, so he didn't run his butt off for nothing......
And if Mr Peck had not exhausted himself with all this track and field stuff and
studied hard at the same time, doubtless he would have died or been maimed in Vietnam.
on balance, and to the extent that they can keep your ass out of the latest US
war, sports are a good thing for young people to occupy themselves with.
KU blanket, 2008
University of Kansas logos were gratefully borrowed from the page "Kansas
Jayhawk World Record Holders" (http://www.jayhawks.org/tf/records.html).]
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 9 September 1999, revised 7 June