The Harvard harriers marooned Penn and Columbia on the five-mile moonscape known as Van Cortland Park in New York City yesterday. The Crimson defeated arch rival Penn 25-30 and outlasted the native New Yorkers 26-30 in the traditionally tightly run dual meet.
For the first three miles of the loop winding from the south side of the Broadway esplanade around the sandlot baseball diamonds and the historic Van Cortland family mansion, the pack was too tightly bunched to predict the final outcome.
At the final tape, Peter Fitzsimmons had finished first for the Crimson and second overall for the meet with a time of 25:32, conclusively proving his return to peak form after a lengthy layoff with tendonitis.
The second virtuouso performer for Harvard was sophomore John Murphy, who finished seven seconds behind Fitzsimmons after missing all of last season with a stress fracture in his shin.
Captain Mark Meyer said after the race, "Murphy really went out hard at first. It hurt him and he dropped back but he came back strong. It was a tough race."
Meyer ran a tough race himself. He was running sixth most of the way until he caught up to Columbia's Wally McNally, ran stride for stride with him for 500 yards, and outkicked him by a moth's eyelash at the wire.
The harriers left Noel Scidmore and Reed Eichner stranded in Cambridge with colds or otherwise the margin of victory might have been even greater. In addition, Ed Sheehan finished tenth--after he tripped and bruised his knees.
The highlight of the boulder-strewn, pot bunkered Van Cortland circuit is "Cemetery Hill", an arduous grade just before the three-mile marker. "It's a terrible monster that just kills you on the second mile," Meyer said.
"There are almost sand traps in some place," Meyer added. Van Cortland's natural affinities for golfing as opposed to running were perceived quite a long time ago, as the first municipal golf course in the country was laid out there in 1896.
The sand traps took their toll. Thad McNulty was running even with Meyer until after he negotiated Cemetery Hill. "He'd given it all he had, and just died--almost literally," said manager Jonathan Currier. "We had to go up the hill and get him."