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Mark Mullin ran his last race for Harvard Saturday at Villanova, and ended one of Harvard's most distinguished athletic careers with an unforgettable flourish. Today the Crimson track captain will receive the William J. Bingham award, the highest athletic honor the University can bestow.
Competing against the top runners in the East, Mullin won the IC4A mile crown that had eluded him for two straight years. His time, 4:06.4, broke the old IC4A record of 4:07.8 held by the great Ron Delany of Villanova and it set a new Harvard mark that will not soon be bettered.
Mullin, after starting far outside in lane 10, trailed far behind as the leaders passed the 440 mark in 60.0 and the 880 post in 2:02.0. In the third lap, he fought his way through the pack, but as the gun sounded for the last quarter-mile, he was still third, behind Larry Rawson of Boston College and Pat Traynor of Villanova.
With 330 yards left in the race, Mullin was five yards behind Rawson and Traynor; at that point, all chance for victory seemed lost. But with a surge Mullin caught his two opponents, and after a three-man struggle that covered 70 yards, he pulled ahead to stay.
The Crimson finished eighth in the IC4A field with 13 points, as Villanova, with 49 1/2, easily took the team title. Ted Bailey won the hammer throw with a toss of 192 ft., 3 in., and Rick DeLone was third in the shot put at 53 ft., 11 1/2 in., to account for the rest of the Harvard scoring.
Mullin will receive the Bingham Award in a ceremony this afternoon in the Dillon Field House lounge. The award has been made since 1954 to "the member of the graduating class who, because of his integrity, courage, leadership, and ability on the athletic field, has best served the high purposes of Harvard as best exemplified by former athletic director William J. Bingham."
Ever since Mullin came to Harvard as a 4:23.6 miler in 1968, his courage and dogged determination have led him to achievements that even his most optimistic supporters could not have foreseen.
In his freshman year, though still far away from the eventual greatness he would achieve, he gave an indication that he was no ordinary runner. On a muddy freshman track, Mullin ran 4:17.8 to defeat the best milers the Harvard and Yale varsities had to offer and win a place on the combined team that would face Oxford-Cambridge.
As a sophomore, Mullin won the first of his three outdoor Heptagonal championships, as he defeated teammate Fred Howard by inches in 4:14.8. A week later, he led off the varsity 70-70 upset tie against Yale by winning the mile in 4:10.6, a Harvard record.
After an illness had runined his winter campaign, Mullin came back in the spring of his junior year to take his second Heps crown with a 4:07.1 triumph over Bobby Mack of Yale. He won another thrilling battle with Mack in 4:09.5 a wek later, and clinched the Crimson's 72-67 victory over Yale by taking the 880 in 1:52.3.
This year, Mullin whipped Mack indoor and outdoor Heps championships, and again won the mile and 880 against Yale in the spring to pace still another Crimson upset.
At Oxford next year on a Marshall Scholarship, Mullin will continue to run. His goals will be a four-minute mile and a place on the Oxford-Cambridge team that will face Harvard and Yale in the spring.
That international meet should pose a problem for Crimson coach Bill McCurdy and other Crimson followers. It would be fine to have Harvard and Yale win the meet, but for that to happen, someone will probably have to beat Mullin. And no one who has seen him drive toward the finish line, straining to the very limits of his endurance but still pushing himself onward, will over be able to root against him.
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