65 years ago today the daily newspapers in Ireland blazed the sport of athletics across the front pages with the news of Herb Elliott’s world mile record set in Santry the previous night. The Clonliffe ‘August Sports’ were not finished and on day 2, a crowd of 8000 came to the north Dublin village of Santry to the Clonliffe Harriers Stadium.
The feature event was the open 2 mile where the athletes who had entertained the 25,000 crowd the night before were talking in terms of an attempt on the world 2 mile record. The main protagonists where the Aussie pairing of Albie Thomas and newly crowned world mile record holder Herb Elliott. This night, 65 years ago, Elliott had agreed to act as pacemaker. The early pace was a little off with the mile reached in 4 minutes 22 seconds, Elliott led with Albie Thomas on his shoulder and Frank White (Avondale) was 3rd. Frank White of course ended up later joining Clonliffe Harriers where he enjoyed a stellar career as an athlete and later administrator serving as the Clonliffe Harriers club secretary from 1983 to 1985.
Albie Thomas found the mile pace to be too slow but taking up the story: ‘I decided to have a go. It was tough going and in the 2nd quarter of the last mile I felt like turning it in. Then came that wonderful Dublin cheer. I felt I was running for the crowd as much as for myself and I ran just as hard as I possibly could. When I heard I had actually beaten the record I could hardly believe it. Imagine I ran the last mile in 4 minutes 11 seconds.’
The world record, which had been held by Sandor Iharos (HUN), had gone and was replaced with the name of Albie Thomas (AUS) – 8 minutes 32 seconds – Santry, Dublin – August 7, 1958.