Hurdles guru profiles timber-topper who went against the grain

Me leading a shuttle hurdle race at Tustin Relays about 1970. Good height, Ken!

Steve McGill, a hurdles-loving coach in North Carolina, has profiled me in his online magazine, Hurdles First. His 3,200-word article is rife with factual accuracy. (He cheated by letting me check it first.) But I forgive him for making me out to be a better hurdler than I am. Loved his choice of anecdotes, such as: “One of his craziest memories from his sophomore year is that of running the 4×120 shuttle low hurdles at a few invitational relay meets. Instead of the modern configuration in which four teams run at once, with one lane of hurdles facing one way and the hurdles the next lane over facing the other way, they ran in all eight lanes. “The first and third legs [ran] with the hurdles and the second and fourth legs [ran] against the hurdles. I was anchor every time, and Valencia won most races.” Check out his site, including a message board devoted to the best events in track (the kind where you jump over metal and fiberglass thingees).

Last time I shared this shot was 2004. So it’s time to hurdle down memory lane. This was a 4×120 shuttles race at 1970 Shorty Smith Relays at Santa Ana High School. I anchored. My Valencia High School team won.

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February 22, 2014

12 Responses

  1. Levasseur - February 22, 2014

    Ken something shocks me on these pictures.
    Seems to me hurdles are not placed on right way

  2. Liz Palmer - February 22, 2014

    I love Steve McGill’s website –it’s fun and very informative. Nice profile, Ken!

  3. Marcus battle - February 22, 2014

    Are you going to Boston
    We need a ku relay
    I’ll call clif wiley and Kevin knewll

  4. Ken Stone - February 22, 2014

    No Boston for me, sorry. Maybe North Carolina this summer. Bob Lida is available, though.

  5. Christel Donley - February 22, 2014

    The hurdles are set correctly? you all are running the wrong way!! Fun picture!

  6. al cestero - February 22, 2014

    nice photos…!!!

  7. Matt McCubbins - February 23, 2014

    I’m no hurdler, but yes those seem backward to me….like a disaster waiting to happen if you don’t clear one!

  8. Ken Stone - February 23, 2014

    Yes to all: The hurdles are set backwards on purpose as part of the shuttle hurdle relay. Twenty yards to the first hurdle. Twenty yards from the last to the finish line, and 20 yards between five hurdles means you can have eight teams running. Liability nightmare but fun!

  9. Rick Easley - February 24, 2014

    Yes, I notice that you are not skimming the hurdles and neither would I under those circumstances.

  10. Jack Karbens - February 25, 2014

    After viewing Ken clear the backward hurdles, I have a better understanding of the intestinal fortitude he demonsrates as a first class journalist.

  11. Andrew Hecker - February 25, 2014

    A note should be made to people wishing to run shuttle hurdles relays. The 120 yard high hurdles works having the hurdles side by side. 110 meters does NOT. The distance from the start line to the first hurdle is not the same as it is from the last hurdle to finish. OK the difference is only about a foot, but that is enough to screw up a good hurdler’s race.

    I am still embarrassed to have witnessed the Penn Relays try to do it with elite collegiate runners. I was surprised and was attending as an out of state press photographer, not an official. I didn’t really have a method to complain. While I looked at it with curiosity, I watched them run the race and BOOM CRASH carry a collegiate hurdler off on a stretcher a few minutes later. Its a fun race to run. The consequences of measuring hurdles wrong is serious.

  12. Joseph Burleson - February 26, 2014

    Andrew: You may have witnessed the same Penn Relays debacle that I did, which was, I believe, the 2004 meet. If so, the reason for the crash was different, and I am sorry to report that I could have prevented it if I had yelled out from Row 20 about 5 seconds sooner: Two of the 4 lanes used for legs 2 and 4 had the hurdles in the correct spacing, but had them backwards, just as do the hurdles in Ken’s young photo. As soon as the gun went off, it was too late to protest. Those two hurdlers went down bad, and it was a terrible sight to both see it coming and then see it happening.

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