Celebrating Bill Baillies World Records

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26 Aug 2013

Bill Baillie celebrated 50 years since he set two world distance running records at the Lovelock Track, Mt Roskill Auckland on 24 August 1963 on Saturday.
Exactly to the hour when he finished at midday in 1963, speeches and celebrations were held at the new Owairaka Club Rooms alongside the Lovelock Track.
Baillie reduced Emil Zatopek’s long standing world record for 20,000m by 23.2s and extended his one hour distance record by 151 yards. Baillie was assisted with the pace making during the event by Barry Magee, Ray Puckett, Jeff Julian and Neville Scott. Also competing were six Japanese marathon runners who were in Auckland training before the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Baillie still had a sprint for the finishing line after having covered more than 12 and a half miles in one hour. His official time for the 20,000m was 59m 28.6s and for the one hour the distance was 20,190m.
Baillie said that he planned it six months before hand.
“I marked down the date of Saturday 24 August and worked back from that date my training. I knew I was going to go out and do it that day,” he said.
For Baillie (79) it was one of the highlights of his long and successful running career which included sixth in the 5000m at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“I’d missed the 1956 and the 1960 Olympic Games and hadn’t got an Olympic medal so the next best thing was a world record so I set myself for this and I looked in the record books and Zatopek still held two world records and they’d been there for 12 years. Zatopek was possibly the world’s greatest distance runner in this last century and I thought Bill you’ve got to have a go at those and that was it,” said Baillie.
For the record Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan was second with 20,083m, also under Zatopek's record of 20,052m, Ray Puckett third with 19,880m, Kazumi Watanabe of Japan fourth 19,781m and Barry Magee fifth 19,062m.
The current world one hour record is held by Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia with 21,285m run in Ostrava Czech Republic in June 2007.

 (Article courtesy of Murray McKinnon, Athletics New Zealand)