Kansas Jayhawk logoDwight Peck's personal website

University of Kansas Track and Field,
and Peck

Except for the nice KU logos, this is not a very colorful page . . .

This 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 [click here for a few press photos of the event]. The co-conspirators are Gary Ard (200m), Ben Olison (200m), Coach Bob Timmons, privileged kucatalogue1.jpg (23592 bytes) 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 longhorns.

Later 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.]

Jayhawk track logoJayhawk track logo

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Probably 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 a year and a half.

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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.

Coach Bob Timmons 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, Kansas, vicinity.

This was taken at the Big Eight indoor championships, Kansas City, 1967.

Jayhawk track logo

Bob Timmons

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Mr 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......

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. . .  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.

It was rather a long journey, track-and-field wise, from high school days . . . .

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[Four 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 . . . .

WINNING 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].

Still upright after the 1991 or 1992 Morat-Fribourg marathon, met by Carmen, Lisa, and Sir Charles (photographer)

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And (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.

And 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.

So, 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.

Press photos, University of Kansas
Press photos, Pascack Valley high school

KU blanket, 2008

[The University of Kansas logos were gratefully borrowed from the page "Kansas Jayhawk World Record Holders" (http://www.jayhawks.org/tf/records.html).]

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 9 September 1999, revised 9 March 2018.