Monday, April 15, 2024

50 Years Later! February 2nd, 1974 – The Christchurch Commonwealth Video games 1500 With  Filbert Bayi, John Walker & Rod Dixon In “The Race For The Ages”!

February 2nd, 1974 – The Christchurch Commonwealth Video games 1500 With  Filbert Bayi, John Walker & Rod Dixon In “The Race For The Ages”!

Virtually 3 years in the past, buddies and observe geeks gathered through texting and zooming (as a result of Covid period!) as all of us watched the Tokyo Olympic Video games 1500 meter semi-final.

Lining up within the 2nd semi was 2016 Gold Medalist Matthew Centrowitz, hoping to advance to his third Olympic last. However incredulously, it wasn’t meant to be, as Centrowitz completed ninth in his race and failed to maneuver on.

Nonetheless, extra astoundingly to us watching was the truth that Centro had run 3:33.69! Incredulously, a few of us commented on how one can run so quick and end out of it!

That’s when Tony Gulotta and I, betraying our age (!), commented with 2 names –

Our youthful buddies had no clue what we had been speaking about, so not solely did we regale them with the 1974 1500-meter Commonwealth Video games race, however we linked them to the video of that unbelievable race.

Filbert Bayi, the “Mountain Man” from Tanzania, took the lead from begin to end, holding off John Walker, the Late Ben Jipcho, and Dixon to win the Commonwealth Goldando and break Jim Ryun’s 7-year-old World File!

The highest 5 occasions had been as follows –

1) Bayi – 3:32.16

2) Walker – 3:32.52

3) Jipcho – 3:33.16

4) Dixon – 3:33.89

5) Graham Crouch – 3:34.22

Now, 50 years later, this extraordinary race, run on a observe with spikes from the period, is revisited by Bayi, Walker & Dixon.

1) How motivated had been you for the 74 Commonwealth Video games?

Bayi –

“Sure, I used to be motivated nearly 100% as a result of
I used to be able to compete with one of the best 1500m athletes of that period. Point out the few Ben Jipcho, Mike Boit (KEN), John Walker, Rod Dixon (NZ)
Graham Crouch (AUS) and the opposite 6 within the race.”

Walker –

“I used to be very motivated. The truth that the Video games was being held in NZ was an enormous incentive for me to do properly.”

Dixon –

“The Christchurch Commonwealth video games had been gathering Nationwide curiosity. John and I had our very profitable 1973 European Scandinavian observe travels. I used to be very decided to be one of the best I may very well be in Christchurch, and I had some thrilling native races the place I had crushed John as soon as, and he had beat me as soon as, so we had been going into the video games understanding that we might probably do one thing particular.

I consider we had been prepared for a World-Stage Video games.”

2) Who did you have a look at as your primary rivals within the race? Who else had been you ?

Bayi –

“Probably not, as I didn’t even know Rod was the bronze medalist within the
1500m on the 1972 Munich Olympic
Video games.

Being an underdog, I didn’t have any worries from anybody. I knew within the race, everybody was one of the best as they represented their nation. Every week earlier than the 800m and 1500m, New Zealand newspapers and radios confirmed all about my buddies John Walker, Ben Jipcho, Rod Dixon, and Mike Boit. I used to be not a lot within the image.”

Walker – “I used to be involved about the entire discipline, actually. I knew the race could be quick after the 800m last was received shortly. I wasn’t solely Bayi because the one to beat and Dixon and Jipcho. I used to be properly conscious of all of them, in truth. It was a strong discipline. You’d be silly to enter a race solely centered on one individual.

I used to be sore after taking part in a pleasant sport of cricket with Arch and his household the evening earlier than, and I used to be a bit of anxious about my drained muscle mass greater than something, however as soon as within the race, I felt nice.”


“I consider John and I had been very conscious of Filbert Bayi operating and racing. I additionally acknowledged Graham Crouch from Australia was operating properly – Brendan Foster UK, Mike Boit & Ben Jipcho. Actually, some world-class commonwealth athletes had been equal to one of the best on the planet on the time.

I knew that the sphere for the 1500 was able to race the race of the century!”

The best 1,500m of all occasions (properly, up til 1974), picture by Mark Shearman

3) The gun goes off, and Filbert instantly jumps to the entrance – what had been you all considering then?

Bayi –

“Taking the lead proper after the gun went off was my plan, understanding no person within the race might have recognized if I used to be doing it proper. I used to be certain they had been considering that
I’d die after a couple of laps. They didn’t know if I had skilled for that suicidal

Walker –

“I wasn’t stunned or involved when Bayi went into the lead as a result of that was how he ran. With 400m to go, I used to be frightened as a result of the remainder of the sphere was collectively, and nobody had tried to comply with Bayi.”

Dixon –

“Bayi was out into the lead from the gun, I anticipated that to occur, and I observed that the opposite runners had been very conscious to not let that lead get too large, and we type of saved it the place it was, believing that we might be capable to decide him up by not less than 800 m – in fact, that didn’t occur, and we weren’t capable of get by!”

4) How would every of you describe your final lap?

Bayi –

“On the bell, I appeared over my shoulder
and noticed John Walker, Ben Jipcho, and Rod
Dixon killing one another to catch me. Coming as much as the ultimate 200m, issues had been sizzling. Between John, Ben, and Rod. On the last bend, John managed to depart Ben & Rod. The ultimate 50m was the place I
knew John was coming to me, and I stated to myself, “Catch Me If You Can” John!”

Walker – ”

“With 350m to go, I moved up more durable within the discipline, and with 180m to go, I gave chase, and I did suppose I might catch him, however with 50m to go, I began tying up.”

Dixon –

“With a lap to go together with 400 to go, I needed to try to bridge the hole in order that my dash was extra at 400 meters than leaving it for the final hundred meters.

Down the again straight, Jipcho and Walker made the problem. I then picked up Jipcho across the last flip, however I might inform that I couldn’t get him once more within the house straight.”

5) Had been you every shocked by operating a spectacular time?

Bayi –

“Positively, I used to be shocked as a result of
in addition to successful the GOLD, I additionally broke the
1500m World report, which was one thing I didn’t consider!”

Walker –

“It was 5 seconds sooner than I had ever run earlier than!

I did my finest and so I used to be not disenchanted. It could have been good to win, however I used to be pleased with my effort and felt happy with my race. My life modified endlessly after that race!”

Dixon –

“I keep in mind after we crossed the end line, Graham Crouch and I appeared on the video board and realized that that was the world’s quickest 1500 ever, with the primary two breaking the world report the third place equaling the outdated world report, and I completed fourth within the race and ran the fifth quickest time in historical past and Graham Crouch set an Australian report and a lot of the different runners within the discipline additionally set Nationwide information, and to today 50 years later it’s nonetheless thought of to be one of many biggest 1500 meter races!”

6) Many think about this race essentially the most glorious 1500 ever run – many followers as we speak evaluate performances like yours to the applied sciences surrounding the brand new tracks in addition to the “SuperShoes” of as we speak – would you prefer to take a guess as to how a lot sooner you & the others could be as we speak 50 years later?

Bayi – “Possibly with a clear run, 50 years later from as we speak, athletes might go
underneath 3:20.00 within the 1500 meters!”

Walker – “If I had the know-how and observe as we speak, a 3:27 could be fairly correct, however it’s onerous to say. It’s only a guess.”


“We will discuss all we wish about comparisons between runners in generations, nevertheless it’s what it was on the time, and what’s occurring now could be this time, and we simply respect the folks on the time, not the best of all time however the biggest of their time. ”

They Positive Had been!

Bell Lap – This author thanks Filbert Rod and Hans for recalling this magnificent occasion!

Bayi’s new autobiography – “Catch Me If You Can” – is on the market at –Soulstice Publishing

Cowl of Catch Me if You Can, The Filbert Bayi story

You should buy Bayi’s e-book right here:


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