From statistics of Harvard track records taken by the CRIMSON, it appears that the physical condition of the average man is better today than forty years ago. Of course running shoes, board and cinder tracks, take-off boards for the broad-jump, poles for the pole-vault, and the system of coaching have all been improved and necessarily have a bearing upon these records. Yet, by merely glancing at them, it may be seen that even grammar school boys of today could compete with the University record holders of 1875. Moreover, these records run on such a poor average that it would be possible for any all-round track athlete to break every one of the records in a single afternoon.
Time of Dashes Greatly Lowered.
Since 1874, the record in the 100-yard dash has been clipped by 1 3-10 seconds. The 100-yard dash record at this time was held by S. D. Kittredge '76, his time being 11 1-2 seconds. In 1876, A. H. Latham '77 lowered this time to 10 3-4 seconds. Five years later E. J. Wendell '82 ran the distance in 10 seconds, and the present record, 9 4-5 seconds, was made in 1902 by W. A. Schick '05.
The record in the 220-yard dash was held by E. J. Wendell '82, in 1878. W. Baker '86 lowered this record by two seconds eight years later. It was not until 1909 that this time was beaten; in this year W. A. Schick '05 made the present record of 21 2-5 seconds. This same time for the 220-yard dash has been equalled twice, once by R. C. Foster '11 in 1909, and again by W. A. Barron Jr., '14, in 1914.
In the 440 yard dash the records of 1875 and 1915 vary even more. C. S. Bird '77 held this record in 1875, his time being 60 seconds. One year later H. C. Dunham '77 cut two seconds from this time, and in 1878 R. Bacon '80 set up a new record of 54 seconds. In the next three years 3 1-4 seconds were clipped from Bacon's record, E. J. Wendell '82 reducing it by 1-2 second, and W. H. Goodwin, Jr., '84 lowering it to 50 3-4 seconds. This record stood for nine years, until W. C. Downes '90 ran the distance in 49 seconds; then W. A. Barron '14 made this same time in 1913. Captain W. J. Bingham '16 reduced this record in 1914 by one-fifth of a second. W. Willcox, Jr., '17 holds the present record in the 440-yard dash of 48 seconds, which is exactly 12 seconds faster than the record of C. S. Bird '77, made in 1875.
Half-Mile Record Little Changed.
The half-mile record has not undergone many changes. F. S. Sturgis '76 held this record in 1874 when he covered the distance in 2 minutes 52 1-2 seconds. In the next year, A. L. Lowell '77 cut 42 1-2 seconds from this time. Eleven years later, in 1896, W. H. Goodwin, Jr., '97 set up a new record of 1 minute 56 7-8 seconds. Although this is exceptionally fast time for the half mile run, yet this record was broken in less than a year by C. Hollister '97, who made the present record of 1 minute 54 2-5 seconds.
One minute and eighteen seconds have been clipped from the record in the mile-run since 1874. C. S. Bird '77 held this record, his time being 5 minutes 41 3-4 seconds. One year later, A. L. Lowell '77 lowered Bird's record to 5 minutes 2 1-2 seconds. In 1880 A. Thorndike '81 set up a record of 4 minutes 42 7-8 seconds, which was not broken for twelve years. G. Lowell '92 and R. Grant '97 reduced this time to 4 minutes 33 2-5 seconds and 4 minutes 26 1-5 seconds respectively. The record in the mile run is held now by H. Jacques, Jr., '11, who covered the distance in 4 minutes 23 2-5 seconds in 1911.
The two-mile record has not been lowered as much as might be expected. Since 1899 it has been reduced by one minute and eight seconds. E. W. Mills '01 held the first record in this distance of 10 minutes 32 2-5 seconds. In the same year H. B. Clark '01 sliced thirty-two seconds from Mills' record. In 1904 A. King '03 ran the distance in 9 minutes 54 1-5 seconds, two years later M. H. Stone '07 set up a new record of 9 minutes 49 4-5 seconds, and in 1909 H. Jacques, Jr., '11 broke Stone's time by three seconds. The present record in the two mile run of 9 minutes 24 2-5 seconds was made by P. R. Withington '12 in 1912.
Seven Feet Added to Broad-Jump.
Since J. B. Keys '77 made the first record in the broad-jump of 15 feet 8 1-2 inches, seven feet and three inches have been added by following athletes. At the present time, T. Cable '13 holds the broad-jump record of 22 feet 1 3-4 inches, made in 1912.
In 1874, H. G. Danforth '77 made a record in the high-jump of 4 feet 8 inches. Since that time one foot six and one-quarter inches have been added. G. R. Fearing '93 made a jump of 6 feet 2 1-4 inches in 1891, which has not been broken since.
The changes of the hammer-throw and shot-put records are very marked. E. D. Brandegee '81 threw the 16-pound hammer 59 feet 8 inches in 1879. This record has been practically tripled, since the present record of T. Cable '13, made in 1913, is 162 feet 4 1-2 inches.
The change of the pole-vault record causes the most surprise. The present record was made by J. Barr '10 in 1908, when he cleared the bar at the height of 12 feet 4 7-8 inches. This is five feet and four inches higher than the record of 7 feet 1 inch, made by N. H. Fowler '80, in 1879.