Ron Clarke, First to Break 28:00 for 10K, Dies at 78

Ron Clarke, First to Break 28:00 for 10K, Dies at 78

Australian set 11 world records in 1965, but gold medals eluded him.

Ron Clarke, one of the greatest distance runners of the 20th century, has died at age 78 after a short illness on Australia's Gold Coast.

Clarke will be remembered as the greatest record breaker in the history of running. In his peak year of 1965, the front-running Australian set 11 world records at distances from three miles to one hour (12 miles, 1006 yards). Not even Paavo Nurmi or Haile Gebrselassie held such a full set of world marks simultaneously. Later Clarke added the two-mile record to that astonishing range.

The scale of improvement that he achieved was also unequaled. He slashed the world 5000-meter record from 13:35 to 13:16.6, and the 10,000-meter mark from 28:18.2 to 27:39.4. The day he took the world three-mile mark under 13:00 for the first time is still the stuff of legend. In that race, Clarke decisively beat American Gerry Lindgren, and at his peak he defeated nearly every top runner of the era, including Michel Jazy, Kipchoge Keino, Ron Hill, Billy Mills, and Bruce Kidd.

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