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Tom Farrell — August, 2021
Tom Farrell won the Bronze Medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics in the 800 meters after finishing fifth in the same event at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He finished second at the 1964 Olympic Trials and first at the 1968 Olympic Trials in the 800 meters. Tom competed collegiately for St. Johns and his major titles include the 1964 IC4A 880 yards, 1964 NCAA 800 meters, 1965 NCAA 800 meters, 1966 IC4A 600m indoors and 1966 AAU 880 yards. He set a World Record 880 yards indoors in 1965 of 1:49.8 to break Peter Snell’s mark. Tom was undefeated during a 1965 European tour which included stops in Germany, Poland, Switzerland, France, England and Ireland. At Archbishop Malloy High School in Queens in New York City, he won all sixteen of his races his senior year and was a member of the Penn Relays two-mile relay champions his junior year. Tom was the 1961 National high school indoor 1,000-yard champion and still holds the Malloy school record for 880 yards of 1:54.3. He was the first three-time Haggerty Award recipient, which is presented to the most outstanding St. John's University athlete. His personal best times are: 440 yards – 46.6 and 800 meters – 1:45.46. After retiring from a thirty-year career with Xerox, Tom has been a volunteer assistant coach with St. Johns for the past twenty years. He resides in Granada Hills, California with Chris, his wife of fifty-five years. Tom was very generous enough to spend two hours and forty-five minutes on the telephone for this interview in the summer of 2021.
GCR: BIG PICTURE At the highest levels of sport athletes set goals to compete in the Olympics and to represent their country in other international competitions. Can you reflect on what it means to be a member of the 1964 and 1968 USA Olympic team, and to pull on the USA jersey for other meets, including several in Europe?
TF Sometimes it is hard to express the feeling you have when you make an Olympic team. What happens in the United States, which is different from most countries around the world, is that we start with thousands and thousands of athletes who run our event, it gets whittled down through qualifying meets, such as local races, conference meets and national meets. Then through USA Track and Field it narrows the field to fourteen or eighteen runners in two races and the final race where all the marbles are on the table in this one race and the top three go to the Olympics. When you train for a long time and get down to the Olympic Trials and realize that if you finish first, second or third in the race that you make the Olympic team, the feeling is hard to explain unless someone has been there. It’s a remarkable feeling where I was walking on air and couldn’t sleep for days. I was pinching myself. If we look at my first Olympics in 1964, in the prior year I didn’t even make the conference championships. Then one year later, I made the Olympic finals and was running next to guys like Peter Snell which was just mind-boggling. It is an incredible feeling to make the Olympic team and it is something that stays with you for the rest of your life.
GCR: On the Olympic stage, step one is competing, step two is making the final and step three is earning a medal. Of course, a fourth and final step could be earning the Gold Medal. How rewarding was it to complete steps one and two and make the 1964 Olympic 800-meter final as an inexperienced twenty-year old and then to take the third step in the 1968 Olympics as a seasoned veteran and race to the Bronze Medal?
TF In 1964, I was twenty years old and thought I was too young. Four years later, in 1968, I thought I was too old. I went to school in New York City and the big conference meet was the IC4As which, at that time was a nice sized meet. Most of the schools on the east coast participated. In 1963 I didn’t make the finals and my coach said, ‘Don’t ever let that happen again.’ It was devastating not to make the final and to watch my race the next day, even though it was only a conference final. My coach, Steve Barthold at St. Johns,’ said, ‘You are going to plan and train, and your goal is to make the Olympic team next year.’ He taught me a lesson that you learn from failure. I don’t know why I ran poorly, but I was still only a 1:52 half-miler in my sophomore year. Guys around the country were running faster, but I was still a mediocre to good runner. He told me, ‘Train hard because you have the ability to be much better and we will see what happens the following year. We’ll chalk this up to experience and then come back next year to start all over again with the goal of making the Olympic team.’ As a kid growing up in New York City, those were the Tom Courtney days as he ran for Fordham. There was also Tom Murphy, who ran for Manhattan College, and I was Tom Farrell from St. Johns. There were three guys named ‘Tom’ who were three Irish guys from local schools. Tom Courtney won the 800 meters at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and Gold on the four by 400-meter relay. I had a picture of him on my wall passing the stick to Charlie Jenkins. I always wanted to be that guy. There was a big spread in Sports Illustrated and it struck me as this is my goal. That was from a long, long time ago when I was thirteen years old and just starting to run in high school. My dream was to win a Gold Medal while setting a World Record. I always kept that in my mind. I didn’t have a long career, but that was there throughout the years I ran. After the 1964 Olympics, I became friends with Peter Snell and even went down to New Zealand to run against him in December of 1964. He said, ‘You have a good future because you are only twenty years old. Start training now for the next Olympics. You have a good shot to win.’ That was inspiration because he was ‘The Guy’ back then. I always kept that in mind.
GCR: You mentioned the IC4As, and winning is always a great feeling, especially in big meets. How would you say your championship record stands the test of time with victories including the 1964 IC4A 880 yards, 1964 NCAA 800 meters, 1965 NCAA 800 meters, 1966 IC4A 600m indoors and 1966 AAU 880 yards?
TF I always thought that it was more important to win a race than to finish in third or fourth place while running a fast time. I felt I was always a good competitor who raced against the competition, and I was difficult to get around or beat in the last one hundred meters because I trained for that. It is better to win a race as your name stays in first place for a long time. In 1964 coming into the IC4As my best time was a 1:51 or 1:52 in an open race. I had run a 1:50 on a relay. I went to IC4As and felt like a world beater. I ran 1:49.5 for 880 yards, which is under 1:49 for 800 meters. My times improved and that qualified me for the next big race which was the Olympic Trials. They had two different Olympic Trials in 1964. They had one in New York City at Randall’s Island. They took the top six from the NCAA finishers, the top six from the AAU meet and the winner of the armed services meet. They had about fourteen guys and ran two heats in New York. The top four from each made the next round and, of the eight who advanced, the top six went on two months later to run in the Coliseum in Los Angeles in the final Olympic Trials. My time at IC4As was 1:49.5, and my time when I won at NCAAs was 1:48.5. I don’t know how I won the race, but I won it. Then my time at the first Olympic Trials in New York was 1:47.5. My times were getting better every time I ran a race. In the Olympic Trials finals at the Coliseum, it was more of a strategic race. It was 55 or 56 seconds for the first four hundred meters and was a mad sprint to the finish and I finished second in 1:48. In Tokyo I ran 1:46.6 and I didn’t want the season to end. I figured another couple weeks and if I could keep dropping my time another second it would be phenomenal. But that was the end of the season. I always tried to elevate for the competition I was racing.
GCR: Though your focus on winning was number one, running faster than anyone in history is also a great feat and you did both in one race. What were your feelings then and your thoughts now about racing a World Record 880 yards indoors in 1965 in 1:49.8 to break Peter Snell’s mark, especially since he was one of your heroes?
TF After the Olympics in Tokyo, there was the guy who directed the New York Athletic Club meet, Ray Lumb. He was a former basketball player for the New York Knicks and a personal friend, but he was also the Athletic Director of the New York Athletic Club. The Olympics were in October and the NYAC meet was in February. He came up to me and said, ‘We’re going to try to get as many of the Olympic finalists in the 800 meters to run at the New York Athletic Club meet. Do you want to run?’ I told him, ‘Yes, New York City is my hometown, I’m from New York City and I love running in Madison Square Garden.’ I thought to myself, ‘This is when I’m going to set the World Record in the half mile.’ So, I pointed for that meet. I told nobody. The record wasn’t steep because the half mile wasn’t run that frequently indoors. There was usually a 600-yard or 1,000-yard race on the schedule. I went out and set the pace. I ran hard and held off Bill Crothers to break Peter Snell’s record. But I pointed to that meet. I thought, if I was going to win it, there was going to be a World Record. And it was a plus to do it at home.
GCR: If we reflect on the track and field scene in the United States in the 1960s when middle distance running at the highest level was growing by leaps and bounds and there was a tremendous depth of top 800 meter runners like Morgan Groth, Bill Crothers, Noel Carroll, Frank Tomeo, Jim Ryun, Jim Johnson, Barry Sugden, and countless others, how exciting was it to be in the middle of this amazing group of talented runners when track and field was very popular, both indoors and outdoors, with big crowds attending many meets?
TF I have a photograph of the first Olympic Trials at Randall’s Island, and it is a picture of the start of a race. It shows not a seat available in the crowd. There were seventeen or eighteen thousand people there. The crowd was at full capacity. The picture is remarkable and so are pictures from the Loa Angeles Coliseum from the final Olympic Trials. The L.A. Coliseum is huge and can hold ninety thousand people, and there were probably sixty or seventy thousand people in the stands. When we see those pictures, it is awesome to realize that this sport was in its heyday back then. There were many great athletes, the public supported our sport, and it was great to be in a place that was packed with people. To run against the names you mentioned was very special. In both the indoor season and the outdoor season, most of the better meets were in the United States. Outdoors there were the Coliseum Relays, West Coast Relays, Modesto Relays and other meets in Berkeley and in the Coliseum. These were the meets where all the top athletes came to compete. Nowadays, everybody leaves the States and, even in the Coliseum, there is no track. The Olympics were held there twice, and I raced there many times. It was a great place to run.
GCR: How similar and different is the process of daily training for a lengthy period as a runner to reach a goal and the effort necessary to guide others with various levels of talent and various levels of dedication to harness and improve their excitement for running and to set and achieve their own goals?
TF I worked for Xerox for over thirty years, and in 1999 I decided that I was fifty-four years old and to retire. I called the coach at St. Johns, whom I was friends with, and asked if it would be okay if I came and helped out a bit with the team. Now, my brother was the women’s coach at Princeton for over forty years, so we always kept close and in touch and went back and went to many of his track meets. I asked Jim Hurt, the coach at St. Johns, ‘Jim, would it be okay if I came back?’ He said, ‘But you live in California.’ I said, ‘That’s not a big deal. I can go back and forth.’ I went for two weeks in 2000 in the middle of winter. I had a good time working with the kids at St. Johns on the men’s and women’s teams, which they had at the time, until a couple years later when they discontinued the men’s program like a lot of schools did. I ripped up my return airplane ticket and stayed for about six weeks. Until last year, I had gone back every year and spent about four or five months each year in New York working with the team. I would go back three or four times because I have a life here with family and grandkids and I can’t just pack up. But my wife would say, ‘get out of here.’ It became great to be part of the team. When they dropped the men’s program it was devastating, but it wasn’t a fight we could win. So, then I started working with just the women’s team. I felt that I wasn’t totally coaching because they have paid coaches. I’m a volunteer and pay my own way. I would work with the athletes, encouraging them. I would drive the bus, drive the van, help out, time workouts, develop strategies, do some workouts with them. It was a fun thing to do and kept me younger because I was dealing with eighteen-to-twenty-two-year-olds. I wanted to keep a young perspective on myself and on life. It was great to work with them and I tried to encourage them. I listened once to Lisa Leslie, the great basketball player, and at a talk she was saying things like, ‘why not me’ and ‘I can do it.’ I always used that philosophy with the young ladies on the team. It is not about how fast you run. It’s if you improve and do better than before and better than you have ever done. I remember working with a guy on the team who wasn’t a great runner, but he was a very nice guy. He broke two minutes for the eight hundred meters. He had been running 2:02 and 2:01. He went out and ran 1:58 on a relay. He hung over a trash can afterward at the Armory in New York just throwing his guts up. It was awful to see, but great to see this guy who extended himself as far as he could, and he broke two minutes. Those are some of the things I remember, and I cherish. I helped this guy get a little bit better. He didn’t qualify for NCAAs, but to him, this was his NCAAs.’ That is the value that I brought to the team.
GCR: You mentioned working for Xerox for over thirty years. Over the years, how has your Olympic notoriety impacted your business career in landing your position with Xerox and in business dealings over the next three decades?
TF I’m not sure it had that much to do with it. I was in the Army and had gone in the Army in 1966. The time I got out of the Army was right when the 1968 Olympics would be in Mexico City. I thought, if I don’t make the Olympic team, one of the benefits is that I would be out of the Army and not sent to Vietnam. When I got out of the Army and had been stationed in California, we moved back to New York City. One day I was out looking for a job in the city in December of 1968. I didn’t want to work, but I had to get a job and was interviewing at businesses. I stopped at the New York Times to see Frank Litsky who was a personal friend. He wrote lots of track articles for the New York Times. He covered high school and college. Since I was from New York City, he knew me well. We travelled a few times to some competitions where he was writing stories. I went in to see him to thank him for everything since I was there anyway. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was looking for a job. He said, ‘I have an idea.’ He called over a photographer and another writer, Sam Goldaff, that I knew from years of running. They took some pictures of me and the next day in the New York Times there was an article that had two pictures of me with a suit on, which was unusual, and the article mentioned I was looking for a job. The next day Xerox called and asked me to come on down. So, I went to Xerox, and I started with them a week later. I don’t know how much being an Olympian impacted them hiring me, but Frank’s article paid off. It’s the only job I ever had. You think that winning a medal is important but, I’ll tell you about one day when I was with Al Oerter and a writer from the Long Island Press. I had a lot of press in Long Island such as ‘local kid does good.’ But the writer said to me, ‘Tom, it’s too bad you only got third.’ When I picked myself up off the floor, I was about ready to hit the guy. That is the feeling I had though standing next to a guy like Al Oerter because he was something else with his four straight Gold Medals in the discus. In the USA, either you win or it’s too bad.
GCR: FORMATIVE YEARS AND HIGH SCHOOL RACING Were you an active child and in what sports did you participate as a youth and teen before starting to run and how did you get started running in high school?
TF I was always fast, but I played all the same sports as everyone else. I was a little guy. The big sport was baseball. We played football, but the main sport for my friends and me was baseball. We had places we played, and we played on a couple of teams. I was a pitcher and I thought I had a good fastball. I was a decent player, but when I was around eleven or twelve or thirteen years old, things had changed. I was thirteen when I went to high school, and I wanted to play baseball. I was at Archbishop Malloy High School in Queens, and I went out for the baseball team. They said I was too small, and I wasn’t good enough. They told me I could go out for the track team, so I did. I knew as a kid that I was the fastest runner. I was very competitive with running and jumping. I knew that nobody could catch me in a race. When we were playing tag, no one could catch me. So, I always knew I was a good runner. At Malloy, for the incoming freshmen they had an intramural track meet. The track coach was Frank Rienzo, who went on to coach at Georgetown and was quite a guy. I ran the quarter mile. I don’t know how fast I was, but I won. Then I found out I made the track team. So, I got turned down in baseball, but made the track team. What I didn’t realize was that everybody made the track team. That’s how I started running.
GCR: What do you recall of your freshman year of running in high school that set the stage for you and the other young men who were getting started in track and field?
TF As a freshman in high school, in the Catholic High School system, there were weight classes, and we would compete against guys our own weight. There was sub-midget, midget, and junior weights. Sub-midgets were around under one hundred pounds. Midgets were one hundred to one hundred and fifteen pounds. Junior weight was one fifteen to one twenty-five. If you were over that, you couldn’t compete in those weight groups. We competed against guys our own size, not our age. One could be a freshman and one could be a senior. But we competed against guys like us who were our own size. There were events from the shot put to long jump to running. Those were fun. I used to throw the shot put, long jump and run. As I progressed to the junior weight, every month there was a weigh in, and I went to a place in New York where I was certified as under a certain weight. We would get on the scale, take a deep breath and exhale and hope to not be over the weight so we could compete. That made athletics and track and field a fun experience at the time. There were only a couple events by weight classes a year, but there were even team championships. We would take the train into New York City and throw the eight-pound shot put which was soft like a bean bag. I threw it about forty-five feet. There were Brothers at my school who taught each event, and they went by ‘Brother Shot Put,’ ‘Brother Hurdles’ and so on as they specialized. We did the glide shot put like Parry O’Brien. Once we got it down and worked on the mechanics, it was all technique. I was a skinny little kid throwing this soft, heavy ball.
GCR: What are some highlights of your early years on the cross country and track teams as a high school freshman and what did Coach Frank Rienzo do to nurture your talent and guide you as a young, novice runner?
TF As a freshman, I thought every race was more important than the next race and that every race was vitally important. We had meets that were Brooklyn-Queens meets that were small meets when I look back. But I thought every meet was a monster meet, even dual meets. I thought dual meets were as important as the Olympic Games. I ran the mile and one time as a thirteen-year-old, going on fourteen, I broke five minutes. In Madison Square Garden, I ran 4:56 for the mile and it hurt so much. I also ran a 2:14 or 2:15 half mile. Coach Rienzo wasn’t coaching the freshmen. Some of the Catholic Brothers at Malloy were the ones that steered us for our first year. As a sophomore we sort of graduated to the varsity. Frank was a disciplinarian. He was a guy like Vince Lombardi. He told us how to tie our shoes and the basics. We learned stick passing. If our race was at two o’clock in the afternoon, we would be there an hour and a half before that so we would be rested. Then he told us that, on top of that, we should get there another hour before we were supposed to be there. It was a discipline we grew up with having Frank as our coach. There was no funny business. We didn’t play basketball or other sports. We were there to run. At the time, Malloy was starting to become a good powerhouse for local track and field. The school had opened in 1957 after moving from Manhattan to Queens. It was named St. Ann’s in Manhattan and became Archbishop Malloy in Queens. My class was the first that spent four years there. There were guys on the team that were better than me, but I showed up every day and had consistency. I can’t remember the exact workouts we did, but everything was intervals. We ran a lot of 220s and 440s. Occasionally, we would do 1,320 yards or something else for distance work. We would do some ladders of 660, 440, 330 and 220 and back up. Those were the types of workouts. And Coach Rienzo was there timing us and encouraging us. The school had an enrollment of over twelve hundred boys and there were probably two hundred guys on the track team. In my freshman year, over the summer two Brothers built an eleven-lap, four-lane track in the basement of the school. It was a banked track that they brought outside after cross-country season so all the kids could run on this track. There was a lot of focus from the Brothers who ran the school and Coach Rienzo and parents that brought this school to prominence over the years. I had a part in it, but I’m just one of many. I always thought the most important thing was that we had two hundred kids out for track. We had guys who weren’t going to be great, but they showed up every day. They learned discipline. They learned control. They learned it was important to show up and be part of a team. They learned that, if they were on a relay, other guys were relying on them. These were life principles that stayed with us all for the rest of our lives.
GCR: Didn’t your sophomore year turn out to be a breakout year for you in the half mile with a large improvement?
TF I thought that if any of my running improved every year, that was the goal. There were guys who ran a fast time one year and never improved. As a freshman, I realized that my best race was the half mile. I didn’t like the mile and I wasn’t quite fast enough for the 220- or 440-yard dashes. As a freshman I ran 2:15 and as a sophomore I ran 1:58. Suddenly, my times had dropped down. We didn’t come from a wealthy family. and I knew that if I continued improving I could get a college scholarship and go to college. No one in my family had been to college and I would be the first one. When I ran that 1:58 as a sophomore, people were noticing me. I won the sophomore half mile and the sophomore long jump. I won the long jump on my final jump of around twenty feet. I used to love to long jump and that sticks in my mind.
GCR: What are some of the junior and senior year highlights as far as times and places in championship races?
TF My junior year I ran a 1:56 half mile. We won the Championship of America two-mile relay at the Penn Relays. We ran a 7:56 on that terrible track at Penn and we all won watches. That was a highlight, and our school did a big celebration for us in the auditorium. The whole school came, and they applauded. That was very special because we were all shy. We had that ‘Aw, shucks’ feeling. My senior year I won every race I ran. I won all sixteen races and feel good about that. I set a flat floor record for 1,000 yards with a 2:15 which was the fastest high school time run at the Armory. In the 1950s and 1960s the Armory had a dusty flat floor and runners got splinters if they fell. I ran a 1:54 for 880 yards, which is equal to 1:53 for 800 meters. The Eastern States meet was held at Randall’s Island in June and I decided not to run. Marty Ferco won in 1:51 and Ed Ducini ran 1:51 and another guy ran 1:52. I was blown away. I didn’t run the 880 that weekend as I ran the 440 instead. These guys ran three seconds faster than I had with the fastest times in the country. There were no running publications, so we didn’t know how anyone else in the country was doing until Track and Field News came out once a month with a section on high school running. Names like Morgan Groth and Jan Underwood and Bruce Best and Dennis Carr had run a lot faster than I had. I was on page two of the fastest times and realized there were a lot of guys who were faster than me. I didn’t meet any of them until my junior year in college.
GCR: EARLY COLLEGIATE RACING AND 1964 OLYMPICS How did you decide to go to St. Johns and were there other colleges in the mix of your choices? Did Coach Steve Barthold recruit you strongly?
TF I knew him and I liked him. He went to school at St. Johns and had been a local high school coach. People told me if I stayed local, I would get better press coverage and it was safer. I lived at home when I was at St. Johns. It worked out well for me. I didn’t have the best grades and thought that staying local was best. I was well-known locally, so why not stay here? I grew up in Forest Hills where I went to Grammar School. I went two miles down the road to Archbishop Malloy for high school and three miles down the road to St. Johns. I never left the neighborhood, and all my friends were going to St. Johns. I did get offers from all over. I would have gone to Villanova. My father did all the talking to the college coaches. He told me to study, and he would take care of everything else. It ended up that Villanova rejected me. The story came out a couple years later, after I made the Olympic team, that they said they made a mistake. They thought I was too small.
GCR: You raced especially strong indoors your freshman year, just as you had indoors your senior year in high school. With your small stature, were you built for the tight turns just like Jim Beatty, the first to run a sub-four-minute mile indoors? When I interviewed Jim, he thought his small size helped indoors – do you agree?
TF I agree one hundred percent. At Malloy we had that hundred- and sixty-yard track that was eleven laps to the mile. I used to run as hard as I could. It had all these little inch-and-a-half or two-inch boards and I used to run as close to the curve as possible. I knew how to take the turns and knew how to race from practicing how to run on these small tracks. I thought the quickest way was a straight line and not to go around people. I had good acceleration. If I saw a little gap and thought I could get through it without interfering with another runner, because of my size and the way I had trained, I made a move. I know Jim well and us small guys can run indoors.
GCR: During your junior year in 1964, Coach Barthold had you race 600s and 400s to work on speed. When you focused on the 800 meters later in the season, did the pace seem slow and give you increased confidence?
TF Yes. We had another guy named Tom Bauer who was a good half-miler and indoors we tried to cover all the events at championship meets. So, I ran the 400 and 600. Coach said I would be running them until they came out of my ears. We would go to a meet, and I would run four 400s over two days and maybe two 600s. I would run individual events and on relays. Even though I was running the shorter races, I was training as a half-miler. I had run 1:52 as a sophomore and 1:50 on a relay. I found my junior year, after running all those 400s and 600s and then moving up to 800 meters, I felt smooth. Back then the tracks were not that great and the first quarter mile or 400 meters would be run in 54 or 55 seconds. It’s not like now when it is so much faster due to modern shoes and tracks. When I went past the 400 meters in 55 seconds, it was a jog compared to when I was constantly running 46, 47, 46, 48, and 46 seconds week after week, week in and week out. When I moved up to the 800 meters, I was very comfortable at the 54 or 55 second pace on the first lap. And I also developed a kick. In the IC4As, which was the first time I broke 1:50, I barely made the finals. I didn’t run fast in qualifying, but I made the finals. The next day when the gun went off, I ran easily and at the 600-meter mark I took off and sprinted a 1:49.5 for 880 yards. So that was a 1:48 for 800 Meters. I was thrilled because all the training I had done and all the advice from my coach over the last year had all come true. Then he said, ‘Let’s go to the NCAA.’ I told him, ‘Coach, it’s been a long year, I’ve been running since cross country – I think I’ll take a pass.’ There was also a chance there was going to be a New York City versus London track meet in England. I told my coach I would rather go to London than NCAAs. He told me that I had the Olympic Trials coming up and had to go to NCAAs. I said, ‘When will I ever get to London?’ I had only two nickels in my pocket, and it seemed like such a wonderful thing to go to London for a couple days. He said, ‘No, we are going to Eugene.’ And off we went to Eugene.
GCR: The NCAA 880 yards was loaded with Noel Carroll, Ray Van Allen, John Garrison, Bruce Bess and Barry Sugden all in the hunt. Can you take us through that race and how you were able to pass Bruce Bess on the final straightaway and hold off Barry Sugden in a personal best time of 1:48.5 as your top five competitors were all less than a second behind you?
TF We went out to Oregon about a week early to get acclimated. It was a great trip. We stayed in San Francisco a few days and then moved to the dorms in Eugene. I remember walking around and I didn’t know who anybody was. Everybody seemed like a giant. I was completely intimidated. I would look and think, ‘I wonder what that guy does. He’s big.’ And I would see another guy who was huge. I didn’t know who I would run against because I didn’t know any of these guys and what they did. When it came time for the first round, I was very nervous and somehow I made it to the next round which was the semifinals. It wasn’t a fast time because we held off and had a sprint at the end. They had two semifinals and I made it to the finals. I had never raced three days in a row, so I didn’t know what kind of an impact that would have on me. Most meets were run in two days. But I had trained to run three hard races in three days. Because of my small size, I liked to pass guys on the inside. When it came time for the finals, I was running and coming down the final straightaway and the guy from San Jose State moved a little wide and I passed him on the inside. I was running away from him. I didn’t realize I was better than these guys. As it turned out, I won the race and, when I finished, I was shaking my head in disbelief. Bob Giegenback, the track coach at Yale, who was going to be the head Olympic coach in Tokyo came up to me. He said, ‘Let me be the first to congratulate you.’ I asked him what for and he said because I won. I didn’t know I had won. That time was 1:48.5 and was a Hayward Field Record at the time.
GCR: You mentioned earlier dropping your time a full second at the 1964 AAU to 1:47.5 for fourth place and then another second to 1:46.5 at the Olympic Trials. Let’s talk about the 1964 Olympic Trials where the finish line picture shows a joyous Morgan Groth winning and you looked very happy. What was feeling like as you crossed the finish line in second place and knew you were an Olympian and did Morgan Groth, who won, third placer Jerry Siebert and you share a joyous moment together?
TF I didn’t know any of these guys but became friends with Morgan after that. When we went past the 400 meters, I had the biggest smile on my face because I knew I could outkick most of my competitors. There were only six guys in the race. I thought I could outkick most of them. Near the end of the race, I came off the turn and was on the inside. I realized this was not the spot to be. I almost stopped, went around the field and sprinted like crazy. When I look back, I think I could have won but, at the Olympic Trials, it didn’t matter. My father got the original photo of the finish from Sports Illustrated of Morgan with his arms spread and me with my arms up. I sent copies to Morgan, and he was happy because it is a great shot. He looks so happy. I never had put my arms up before in a race because my coach had told me to always run through the finish and to expect a guy was right there. I was always told to not look around or start wondering where the other runners were, but to finish strong. This time I realized I was going to make it and represent the United States and it was an incredible feeling. Likewise, you can see anguish and stress and heartbreak on the faces of the guys who didn’t make it into the top three.
GCR: Just as in NCAAs and the Olympic Trials, at the Olympics there were three rounds of competition. What did you learn in your 800-meter heat which featured Kenyan Wilson Kiprugut going out in a very fast 51 second first lap as you finished second in 1:48.6 behind Kiprugut?
TF When they posted the heats the night before, I looked to see who I was running against. I didn’t think it would be that difficult to get to the next round as there was a Russian and an Australian who I knew were good. And there were some others names I kind of knew. Then there was this guy, Wilson Kiprugut, and the country listed was KEN. I didn’t know what that country was because, up until that point, there hadn’t been Kenyans of note in the Olympics. There were not as many Africans at all in the Olympics compared to recent years. The gun went off and I looked up and said, ‘Where the heck is this guy going.’ He was fifteen meters ahead of me. I thought he would come back, and he never came back. He ran 1:47.8 and I was eight tenths of a second behind him. I eased into second place because I knew that was enough to advance. This was a shock because I was used to going out the first lap in 53s or 54s or 55s and, suddenly, this guy is out in fifty-one seconds. There was a new dimension in the 800 meters. I felt after that I had to run hard from the beginning. There was no longer any of the strategies to run easy and then kick. He made it very hard. I was talking to him right afterward and couldn’t understand him too well. But what I got out of Wilson is that he would run as fast as he could for as long as he could. That was his philosophy.
GCR: That was also the way Gerry Lindgren raced as he once had a stretch of thirty-six straight races of varied distances where he was ahead of World Record pace at the halfway mark, so Wilson Kiprugut must have been on a similar mindset.
TF I travelled with Gerry Lindgren as we raced in Europe for a month in 1965. After the U.S. Nationals there were trips to Europe and a bunch of us went including Gerry Lindgren, me, Rex Cawley, Mike Larrabee, Paul Wilson and another person or two. We did a racing tour of Zurich, a couple places in Germany, London, Ireland, Poland, Paris. We ran all the big meets and that was how Gerry raced.
GCR: Back to the 1964 Olympics - making the final would be a challenge as, in the semifinal, you faced Bill Crothers, who you had raced often in college, and Manfred Kinder of Germany, with only the first two places guaranteed to make the final. What were highlights of that tight race as Crothers won in 1:47.3, you were second in 1:47.8 and Kinder was just a tick behind you in 1:47.9?
TF I was in the third heat and knew, as you mentioned, that the first two finishers in each heat and the next fastest two finishers would make the final. Peter Snell won the first semifinal and, in the second heat, George Kerr and Wilson Kiprugut both ran 1:46.1 which was an Olympic Record. I thought, ‘Oh no, that’s not good.’ Since we were third to run, I thought that I most likely would not beat Bill Crothers and that left one spot. This guy, Manfred Kinder, and a couple other guys were very good. I thought that maybe I should take the lead and try to run a fast time because we could finish in the top four and still get to the finals with a fast time. I took the lead in one part of the race but knew I wouldn’t make the finish if I kept running like that. I dropped back and came off the last turn with Crothers just a little in front of me. I came up to the German and we kind of fought all the way to the finish. I was thinking of how I grew up in New York City and ran in all that terrible weather with the cold and the rain and the snow. Every day I was out on the track, and it was freezing cold and that made me a tougher person mentally and physically. That would all pay off in the last fifty to eighty meters of this race. It made me a tougher person and I thought, ‘This guy isn’t going to beat me.’ So, I beat Kinder at the finish line. I imagine he was upset. I never met the guy, and it was the only time I ever ran against him. I never talked to him. Bill Crothers was very happy for me. I was right behind him at the finish and was getting closer to him. He came over and hugged me.
GCR: There were many good 800-meter runners who didn’t make the final. In fact, six runners in the first two semifinals ran a faster time then you by a few tenths of a second and were eliminated. Isn’t that unbelievable?
TF Times weren’t important. It was how we competed in our semifinal. I imagine that, if the semifinal was faster, I could have run 1:46. I do think I was in the best semifinal heat and that was fortunate. There were some guys I knew I could beat. But there were two very tough runners, and I knew I had to beat one of them whether it was a slow pace or a fast pace. In the second semifinal the other runners had the benefit of Kiprugut going out fast. George Kerr was also a front-runner. In our semifinal we didn’t have anyone who did that so we couldn’t hit the fastest time and had to go for place. I knew I probably wouldn’t beat Crothers, so I had to beat six other guys. Fortunately, for me I did make it. To go from not making the IC4A finals in 1963 to making the Olympic final the next year was mind-boggling. I was saying to myself, ‘What the heck are you doing here?’ But I did belong because I did it.
GCR: In the final, there was a tight pack through five hundred meters before Peter Snell made his move on the back stretch of the second lap. You raced a personal best time of 1:46.6 for fifth place as Snell, Crothers, Kiprugut and George Kerr all recorded times in the 1:45s. Were you satisfied with your race and is there anything you could have done to possibly run seven tenths of a second faster to beat Kiprugut and Kerr and put yourself in Bronze Medal position?
TF It was a slow early pace which was good for me. I thought in perfect conditions, if I had more confidence in myself and more experience, I could have gotten third. I also thought that, if we had to run a fourth day, I would have gotten better the fourth day. This was a slow race and I had Snell perfectly boxed in as we started the bell lap. Snell slowed way down and went around everybody. After the Olympics, Peter Snell said that this one guy in the 1,500 meters let him out of a box, but Farrell wouldn’t let him out. I did keep the beast up against the rail and he had to go around. I tell athletes that an 800-meter runner must work the third 200 meters. But I don’t think I was believing that back then. I sort of settled in and I was watching the race. I don’t think I was in the race. That is kind of the way I look back on it now. I was being an observer and not a participant. I wasn’t that far behind third and fourth place and was closing a bit at the end. But, with finishing fifth I was thrilled. I was pumped up. I was so happy that I ran 1:46 and it wasn’t a good track.
GCR: LATER COLLEGIATE RACING, THE MILITARY AND 1968 OLYMPICS After the Olympics, you spent a bit of time in New Zealand. What were some highlights from racing Peter Snell, John Davies and others and did you learn anything to help you over the next few years as you prepared for the 1968 Olympics?
TF Since the Olympics were during the fall semester of the school year, I took off that semester and kind of red-shirted. Ollan Cassell called me to see if I wanted to go to New Zealand to do some racing. I told him I would be glad to go. He told me I would have to go by myself as he had arranged this trip for me to run a couple of races against John Davies and Peter Snell. I spent the month of December in New Zealand. I met Arthur Lydiard and Peter Snell and a bunch of other athletes. I already knew John Davies. As an aside, since then I have gone back to New Zealand about twenty-five times, and it all started with that visit in 1964. We just got back from fifteen months in New Zealand during the covid situation. My wife and I got stuck there. Anyway, back to the 1964 trip, even though I was very shy and didn’t have much to say, I spent a little bit of time with Peter Snell. He built me up by telling me, ‘You finished fifth. You did well. You ran 1:46. You’re twenty years old. Keep at it and you should do well in the next Olympics.’ It was very encouraging to talk to a guy like that and to John Davies, who had finished third in the 1,500 meters. I ran against Peter Snell in one race, and it was like a little boy against a big man. He ran away from me.
GCR: The 1965 NCAA 880-yard run was loaded with Noel Carroll back again and John Perry, Wade Bell, George Germann and Darnell Mitchell racing for medals. Can you take us through your race preparation and the early rounds and then the finals and your strategy as you paced yourself, moved into second place with a half lap to go and went past Darnell Mitchell off the final curve?
TF That was the race I pointed toward that year. I wanted to defend my title from the 800 meters in 1964, and it was at 880 yards in 1965. I was focused for that race the entire season. I ran a lot of 400s and quarter miles. I got my 440 time down to 46.9 and 400-meter time down to 46.5. So, my speed was good. I ran a couple of fast 600s. When it came to the IC4As, I ran four 400s. I ran the trials and finals in the open race and the four by 400-meter trials and finals. So, my final preparation and plan was to run four 400s in 47 seconds. When the NCAA meet arrived, I was super ready. I jogged through a 1:50 in the first round. I never had felt so good. I didn’t even breathe hard. The 1:50 wasn’t a bad time, but it was easy. In the semifinal round, I just made one move with about 180 meters to go and ran 1:48.8 or something close to that. In the finals, I had never been so ready in my life as I was for this race. I took off with about 200 meters to go and won it very easily in 1:47.5. It would have been a great day to run a fast time because I was ready to run a fast time, but it was more important to win the race than to get second or third place in a fast time. I was very happy with that race.
GCR: You mentioned a bit earlier about racing in Europe. Did you enjoy racing that European series where you were undefeated with five wins including a 1:47.6 in Poland, 1:50.4 in Paris and in Ireland by half a second over Olympian Derek McLeane in 1:49.4?
TF Yes, I did win every race I ran in Europe. I miss the competition even until today. And I miss the people and I miss the travel. I really liked the competition, even though I got nervous. My stomach would be churning but I always thought that is the way it should be. We should be nervous as long as it doesn’t get to us.
GCR: What are your thoughts on the 1966 indoor season where you focused on the 600-yard dash and won five straight races, including the IC4A, before the NCAA meet unfolded with Martin McGrady at 1:09.2 and Steve Carson at 1:09.5 beating you as your 1:09.6 time was good for a close third place?
TF In the winter of 1966, there was a meet in Madison Square Garden where I wanted to go out and to try to set the World Record in the 600-yard dash, much like I had the prior year in the 800 meters. I thought I was in shape to run very hard for 600 yards and, if I did, it would be very close to a World Record. I went out and something went wrong. My leg went out on me, and I had a slight hamstring pull. So, I stopped and was disappointed because this was my last year in college and I had other things in mind that I wanted to train for and accomplish. I had to take a little time off and I made it back for IC4As where I won, but I just wasn’t right though I qualified for the NCAAs. I was getting back, but not quite enough. I had a hard time getting going. That 600-yard race at the NCAAs was a race where there had never been one at 600 yards that was that competitive as the finish we had because we were very tight. I just didn’t run well. I kind of passed McGrady and Carson after the finish line. I got too far behind. Martin McGrady was a front-runner who went out and ran very hard from the front. I was too far back and still had the effects of a bad leg though I was getting back. On the eleven-lap track, we came off the last turn and I was gaining, gaining, gaining, gaining and gaining and then the finish line hit. It was the first time in my life I cursed when I finished. I was so angry with myself. I was very upset because, had I won, it would have been a record. Martin McGrady was a great runner, but I think I could have beat him if I was fully healthy.
GCR: How were the mental ups and downs in the 1966 outdoor season as you won the AAU half mile to qualify to race in the US-USSR meet, then the Russians withdrew from the meet, but you raced in a substitute international meet with a PR 1:46.5 almost beating Jim Ryun? What are your recollections of that race with Jim Ryun?
TF After the indoor season, I was out of school eligibility. I was going to school but could race wherever I wanted to. Two of the first meets I ran were Penn Relays and then Mt. Sac. I hated the track at Penn because it was such a lousy track. I had trained before at Mt. Sac because in 1964 the Olympic team trained there. I ran 1:47.9 to win at Mt. Sac for 880 yards and I thought, ‘This is going to be a good season.’ Then I competed at the Modesto Relays and the West Coast Relays and the Coliseum Relays and all the big meets in California and won them all in 1:48 or 1:49. When it came to the AAU meet, it was in New York City which is my favorite place to be. I won easily in 1:47.6. Then the following week I got married. For our honeymoon, we went down to Barbados and St. Thomas for two weeks. The plan was to go to Berkeley to race against the Polish team and then to Los Angeles to race against the Russian team. Back then, those meets were huge. The Russian meet was very big and was covered by newspapers, radio and television from all over the world. People today don’t realize how much pressure there was, how big this meet was and how important it was to both countries. When we were in Barbados, I picked up the international edition of the World Tribune and there was a big headline. ‘Russians Pull Out of Meet.’ I said, ‘What?’ My wife and I were going to fly back to New York, pack up and then fly out to California which would simply be an extension of our honeymoon. While I was in St. Thomas and Barbados, I didn’t train right since I was on my honeymoon. I was skin diving, having a lot of fun and wasn’t as focused on training as I should have been. But I thought I was focused enough that I could win the Russian meet. That was cancelled so I ran in a meet in Berkeley to see how fit I was. At that meet, I watched Jim Ryun run the mile in 3:51. It was absolutely jaw-dropping when he set the World Record in the mile. He set the World Record while Rich Romo was coming off the turn and most of the straightaway behind though Rich still ran under a four-minute mile. It was staggering. I ran 1:47, so not bad. Then Jim Ryun announced he was going to run the 800 meters in the make up meet for the Russian meet. Ralph Doubell would be there, along with Ted Nelson, Preston Davis, a guy from England and a bunch of good runners. When the Russians pulled out, the meet organizers pulled from people who would be running in the Commonwealth Games. I think if I had not gotten married, now my wife would have killed me, but had trained, it would have been closer. I closed on Jim Ryun toward the finish line. You know how life has wishes and ‘would ofs,’ and ‘could haves?’ I think I could have beat Jim. But he was the best. He was my idol. When I see him, he always thinks I should be his PR guy because I have nothing but good things to say about him. ‘Why don’t you be my PR guy?’ Jim was in another world. He was incredible. His stride was remarkable. He was ahead of his time. He took a break after the 1968 Olympics and didn’t get any better. In 1972 he wasn’t the Jim Ryun of his Kansas days.
GCR: After you graduated from St. John’s in 1966, you joined the military. How similar and different was your training over the next two years as you prepared for the 1968 Olympics and were you training with others or receiving any coaching assistance?
TF The situation in the 1960s was that the Olympic team was primarily college guys with a few guys who were out of college. Most guys were from university systems, were just out of university or were in the military. The Pan American Games were coming up in 1967 and the Olympics in 1968 and there were so many guys who were being drafted for Vietnam. The Army pulled all of us runners together, assigned a coach and put us all in Fort McArthur in southern California. It’s across from Long Beach. That is where we lived. The hopes were that with so many guys training we would be prepared and make the Olympic team. Of the six finalists in the 1964 Olympic Trials 800 meters, we had four of them in the Army and Morgan Groth was a Marine. There were about six or seven guys who had run under four minutes for the mile. Tracy Smith, Bob Day, and Preston Davis were all there. There were a slew of sprinters including Mel Pender and Don Webster. This group of sprinters, middle distance runners and distance runners trained together, and it was quite good. I think I was ranked third in the world in 1966. When I was in the Army, I couldn’t get back in shape. Preston Davis, who was a good miler and half-miler from Texas and a good friend, and I decided that starting around June of 1967 we would go on a full year training campaign. We would forget focusing on racing. We would race, but not have it as important as the training. We wanted to build up our miles like in the Lydiard training method from New Zealand and the Percy Cerutty kind of training from Australia. I had spoken with Lydiard a few times and we were going to do that type of training. We built up to a hundred miles in six days per week of training. This was a lot for me. We were running twice a day which I had never done before. We would run four or five miles in the morning and come back for humongous amounts of interval training in the afternoon. We did a lot of long runs. We did that for about a year. We would take breaks and try to sharpen up and go to the indoor meets, but I could never get my stuff together. It took me a long time to get my running style back after doing all this slow running and these massive amounts of miles of running. For me personally, 1967 was a wasted year for racing, but the purpose was training all to get ready for the Lake Tahoe Olympic Trials. That is what everything was geared for.
GCR: After you worked so hard to build your base, in early 1968 you broke a bone in your foot that stopped you from any running for at least six weeks. How surprising was this, did you determine the reason and how tough was it to come back from this setback?
TF I guess it was all the distance because the surfaces were good. We would run on grass. We would run on trails. We would run on roads. We would run barefoot in the sand. With all the miles though, there was a lot of pounding. I was running in an indoor meet in New York and went around a turn and felt something in my foot. I didn’t hear anything, but that hurt. I finished the race and knew my foot was broken. I could tell because the pain hurt very badly. When I was back in California, I had it x-rayed and it was a separation of my fifth metatarsal. But how could I trust an Army doctor? Plus, there were no other medical personnel I could go to. So, I was supposed to listen to this Army doctor who said they could put my foot in a cast or just bandage it up and I could walk on crutches and be careful. I elected to not have a cast on it. I did swimming and long walks on crutches for three or four miles. I would go straight out on the Palisades overlooking Catalina which was a nice place. The reason I would walk out one way was that I had to come back. Walking on crutches hurt, but I used it as a mental exercise. Anything that hurts you makes you tougher. When you have to walk back three miles on crutches and you are hurting and you have blisters and are sweaty, maybe it will give you more reasons to train hard when you can. So, I used it as training. I was out for about two months, and it was totally devastating. But I had faith that I could get back. In my first race after being back running for about three weeks, I ran 1:51. I was fifth or so in the race and people forgot about me. The year before I was beating everybody easily, but now I was being beaten and was forgotten. I said to myself, ‘I’ll be back.’ At the interservice meet, I ran 1:47 and that was sort of a qualifier for the Olympic Trials. Suddenly, with a 1:47 I thought it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a good 1:47. It was a struggling 1:47. There was a different feeling. After that, there was the first Olympic Trials at the Coliseum where they had told us the winner would be guaranteed a place on the Olympic team, provided they showed fitness two months later at Lake Tahoe. We elected to vote that down. There would only be one winner in Los Angeles and everyone else would be a loser. So, why would we be in favor of that? The athletes voted that down. I ran a poor 1:47 in Los Angeles, finishing about fifth. All I knew was that I advanced to Lake Tahoe, which was the objective. Then a week later we went to the All-Service meet in Athens, Greece and I won that race in 1:49. Suddenly, everything came back. It was like the feeling came back when I ran that 1:49. I knew it was back. Then I ran on the relay and ran well so I knew I was back. Next, we went back to California and my wife, and I drove up to Lake Tahoe. As soon as I went on the track at Lake Tahoe, it was all back. It was much like Doubell from Australia had happen. He had an injury before the 1968 Olympics, and it got better when he got to Mexico. Like him, I was better mentally and physically.
GCR: Did you enjoy the training atmosphere and camaraderie at altitude in Lake Tahoe and compared to your excitement in making the Olympic team in 1964, was it more of a relief in 1968?
TF The pressure in the Olympic Trials is incredible. There is so much pressure because it all comes down to one race in the end. What was neat in Lake Tahoe as far as the camaraderie is that we could go up on the track and watch guys work out. Just like in football where people do scouting, I did the same thing on the track. I went out and sort of scouted some of the guys I would race against. The new guy coming up was Mark Winzenreid, who was about nine feet tall, and could run a fast 600 yards, and he was a young kid. I thought maybe he was the sign of things to come. His real height was about six feet, four inches. He was huge. I watched Jim Ryun run. He was running mainly in Los Alamos but would come to Lake Tahoe now and then. I watched Wade Bell and others and none of the guys were doing the kind of workouts that I was. It gave me a lot of confidence. I thought I was training correctly. I didn’t know how they were training, but they weren’t training as hard as I was for three days in a row at altitude. These guys all ran well, but I thought I had an advantage. I was watching them, and it was worthwhile to see how they were running. There was one workout I did where Bill Bowerman clocked me a couple weeks before the Olympic Trials. I liked to run 400s and extend the 400s out to 450 or 460 meters. I would get my time at 400 meters and maintain for that next fifty or sixty meters. The first one I ran fifty-two seconds. The second one I ran fifty-one. The third one I ran fifty. The fourth one I ran forty-nine and the fifth one I ran forty-eight. I took a good little break between each one of them, but not a lot. I knew I was ready and nobody I watched was doing anything like that. That workout gave me all the confidence I needed. Then I cut my training down. I was coaching myself at the time, which was a mistake. Anyway, since Coach Bowerman was clocking me, he knew what I was doing. I didn’t like talking to him too much because I viewed him as the enemy since he was coaching Wade Bell. Anybody from Oregon was the enemy.
GCR: In Mexico City, Kiprugut was in the final, you knew who he was and that he liked to take the pace out fast. Kiprugut took it out in fifty-one seconds, you stayed in the pack, but Doubell went after Kiprugut with 200 meters to go and you were left to battle for third place and hold off a challenge by Walter Adams to secure the Bronze Medal. What were the keys that made the difference between Gold, Silver and Bronze medals?
TF Kiprugut and Doubell were just better. I had a talk with Doubell, who was very close to his coach. I was trying to do it all by myself, which was a mistake. I felt I overtrained during the summer. Every day I ran hard and that wasn’t the shrewdest and smartest plan. I was in peak shape for the Olympic Trials but, in the month in between the Trials and Olympics I started going downhill a bit.
GCR: In both Tokyo and Mexico City, did you participate in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and watch much of the track and field action and other sports? Do you have any great memories of meeting athletes from other countries?
TF In Tokyo I went to all the track and field events. They had room for the athletes on the turn and they were great seats. In the Olympic Village, we could just walk in. There wasn’t the security like there is now. All around the Olympic Village there were bicycles. If we wanted to go from point A to point B in the Olympic Village, we just rode a bike and left it. There were shops and the shoe companies were there. I got to know some of the other competitors. Jerry Ashworth was my roommate. He was from Dartmouth and on the four by 100-meter relay. I went to a couple of the other events I could walk to. I remember seeing some of the judo and basketball, but that was basically it. I loved Tokyo. It was magical. It was a wonderful place, and the people were so nice. I had a couple friends who were in the military who were stationed there. They were fraternity brothers from college who visited with me. There was a guy I had befriended in Grammar School in Queens and he was from Japan. Kazu Taki was his name. We played baseball and were friends for a few years. His father’s business in New York must have been over and his family moved back to Tokyo. He looked me up and contacted me when I was in the Olympic Village. Evidently, they were well off because Kazu came with a driver. He took me around Tokyo, and we spent a couple days together. He kind of paid back my friendship and kindness to him when he was in Forest Hills, New York. Another thing I remember is buying two custom suits for fifty dollars each. I picked out the material and they measured me up and down twelve ways to Sunday and had custom made suits in a week-and-a-half. I did march in the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo. The Closing Ceremony was limited, not like today, so people like Billy Mills marched in it. In Mexico City, I was running the day after the Opening Ceremonies on the first day of competition, so I sat in the Olympic Village in an auditorium where they had a large screen and watched the entire ceremony from there. That was okay because I still have incredible memories of Tokyo. It was very nice back then when everything was open, and we didn’t have to worry about security.
GCR: Can you relate the details of the unbelievable story of sprinter Bob Hayes borrowing your racing spikes?
TF I was warming up for my first or second race and Bob Hayes comes up to me and asks, ‘Tommy, what size shoes do you wear?’ I thought it was kind of an odd question but said, ‘eight-and-a-half. But why do you want to know?’ He said, ‘I had two left and two right shoes and brought two for the one foot.’ I turned out that Joe Frazier, the boxer, played a practical joke on Bob Hayes so, when he left the Olympic Village, he had two lefts or two rights. He was in a bind. Well, part of what Coach Frank Rienzo had taught me was to be prepared and to have an extra pair of socks and an extra pair of shoes and extra shoelaces in case something should happen. I was to be prepared for anything. I had an extra pair of the blue suede Tokyo spike shoes. If you see a film clip of Bob Hayes running, those are my shoes. I let him borrow my shoes and he went on to win the Gold Medal. Later, my dad sent me a newspaper clipping from the New York Times that said, ‘Farrell’s shoes win Gold Medal. Too bad Farrell wasn’t in them.’ That’s a true story.
GCR: WRAPUP AND FINAL THOUGHTS From your many years of racing, who were some of your favorite competitors in high school, college and post-collegiately due to their ability to give you a strong race and bring out your best?
TF There was a guy named Sid Nelson, who was a good half-miler. Jim Ryun was the guy I never wanted to run against. He was in the 800-meters in the 1968 Olympic Trials. But I watched him train and he wasn’t training as a half-miler. When I went into the 1968 Olympic Trials, I figured Jim Ryun had a spot on the 800-meter team. Then Wade Bell was number one in the world the prior year and had a chance. There were thirty other guys for one spot. The story to tell is about Bill Crothers. When I was a senior in high school there was a big relay championship meet in Buffalo. I went up with the New York Athletic Club to run the mile relay. I was about a 49 second quarter miler. I led off the relay and there were a couple of us who passed the stick together. Right next to the finish line was a prize table with awards the winning team could pick out. I thought we were going to win the race and decided to see what the prizes were. I was watching the rest of the race and figuring out what we would get for winning. Our anchor leg was Bill Boyle, who went to Notre Dame and was a good 400-meter runner. Bill Boyle got the stick in the lead and this guy who was behind goes blasting by him. He was from Canada and had kind of an ugly uniform. He ran forty-six seconds flat. He must have beat Boyle by twenty meters. It was a whole bunch. I said, ‘Who was that?’ They said that’s Bill. So, I went from looking at first place awards to looking at second place awards because this guy was so far ahead of us. All I knew was his name was Bill. I didn’t even know his last name. The next year he was running in all these meets in Madison Square Garden, running 600s and thousands and winning them all. I was in a race against him in the National Championships in the Garden. I was only a freshman and how I got into the race I don’t know. But I did make the finals. He beat me by a good fifteen meters. I was way back. I knew this Bill Crothers was very good. At the end of the year, here were world rankings that I hadn’t heard of before. Track and Field News had their rankings and Bill Crothers was rated number one in the world. The next year I was running against Bill and getting a bit closer. What used to be fifteen meters was now seven or eight meters, but I was still soundly beaten. I kept saying to myself, ‘If I beat him, does that mean I’m number one in the world?’ In 1964 he ran three races in three nights in New York, Toronto and Boston. I ran New York and Boston but skipped Toronto. He had to run Toronto because he was Canadian. We were going to run 600 yards in Boston, and I thought I would go out as fast as I could and as hard as I could. I figured he would be tired from racing Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night. So, I’m running as hard as I can. With a lap-and-a-quarter to go, he goes flying by me. I couldn’t believe it. It was like I was standing still. He went on to beat me by three tenths or four tenths of a second in close to World Record time. I was getting closer and thought I would get him in the next race. And I did at the New York Athletic Club meet where I set the World Record. I followed this guy for years. He won everything and was second in the Olympics. He was a tremendous runner and a good friend. Racing Bill Crothers was an example of how I would focus on someone and get closer and closer, have a plan and execute it. And I was fortunate enough to do that.
GCR: After the 1968 Olympics, with your stint in the military over, did you consider graduate school and training for the 1972 Olympics or was it time to move on with a career?
TF I thought it was time to pack it in. I thought I was too old at age twenty-four and going on twenty-five. That was getting up there in age. Also, the last year-and-a-half I trained so hard and had numerous injuries. I was having a lingering nerve problem. I would have to jog, go a little faster and start striding to go through the pain with this sciatic nerve problem. Once I did that routine, I was okay. But there was limping and hurting and I didn’t want to continue. Over the years, I realized I did make a mistake. At the Olympics I was fifth and third and think I would have done better in 1972. That is the race that Dave Wottle won. I think I would have been right in there and, if I stayed in the Army, we had time to train. I was basically a private and a corporal when I served. But, when you are in the Army, you belong to the government, and they can do what they want with you. However, I thought it was best to get out. My wife was teaching school and we decided to move back east. I do kind of regret not sticking around for another four years. In 1968 I didn’t run many races, but I was in the best shape of my life, was training well and had a good attitude. Even though I had those little problems with injuries, I was able to work through them. I wish I had someone who would talk sense into me at the time, but that is all water under the bridge.
GCR: How is your heath currently and what do you do for health and fitness?
TF I’m seventy-seven years old now. When I stopped running I kind of stayed in some form of shape. Then as years went by I kind of let myself go. I put on a little weight. Since I stopped running until now, I have put on about forty pounds. When you are running and training hard, you have bones and skin wrapped around your bones. There’s nothing else but skin and bones. When I retired from Xerox after thirty years at age fifty-four in 1999, I got involved at the gym. I still go to the gym. My wife and I walk a lot. We go to New Zealand, and I try to prepare to do what they call ‘great walks’ there. We have gone to New Zealand almost every year since 1999. As I say to people, ‘We live in New Zealand. We vacation in California.’ There are a couple of walking groups there that we are a part of on Wednesday and Thursday. The Wednesday group is a harder group and aggressive. The Thursday walk has a couple older folks and is easier. Each year for the last five years I’ve done the Milford Track and the Rootburn Track. These are guided walks where we pay for a guide and go from launch to launch. It is magnificent down in a place called Fjordland. It is in the southwest corner of New Zealand. The Milford Track is iconic. It is a five-to-six-day walk. I’ve done Rootburn a couple times and there are some others. It is my favorite spot in the world so I try to stay in shape so I can do those walks. It is becoming increasingly difficult at age seventy-seven. Everything seems to hurt. For the last twenty years, I’ve gone to the gym and walked a lot. I can’t do any running because my knees have arthritis that isn’t bad, but that hinders me a bit. I also have some ongoing back issues and problems. It’s a sign of age where osteoporosis sets in.
GCR: What are your goals for the future for staying fit, keeping your mind sharp, charitable work and new adventures?
TF The one thing I want to do is to try to stay in shape so I can crawl around on the floor and try to take care of my grandkids’ kids. I want to try to keep active. I’m not sure if I’m going back to work with the track team. The coach called me and asked if I’m coming back and I said, ‘Probably.’ I’ve done that for over twenty years. I would miss it if I don’t, and I would miss New York. I like coaching the ladies on the team and have been going back east since 1999. It’s been a lot of fun. We must try to figure out when we are going back to New Zealand since we were there from March of 2020, before covid hit, and stayed such a lengthy time. We brought our son and his family by making them an offer they couldn’t refuse. We paid for everything. My brother, Peter, retired after forty years as the women’s track coach at Princeton and he brought his family. So, there were ten of us together and it was a lot of fun. There were about twelve of us in my walking group in a place called Dalphus Bay at the top of the north island of New Zealand. My son didn’t go, and Pete didn’t go, so I went off with the group. There were around thirty of us to do the Milford Track which was a six day and five-night walk. I had done it and it was fabulous. So, that is what I want to do. When I was running, I travelled quite a bit. When I was working for Xerox, I was a global account manager and had some accounts that were worldwide. I would go to Europe twice a year, South America once a year, Mexico a few times. For personal travel, we went to Europe several times. But I’ve found now that I don’t want to go back to Europe or anywhere except New Zealand. That is what I look forward to.
GCR: Since you mentioned your brother Peter, that is a perfect segue. Your younger brother, Peter, in addition to his forty years of coaching at Princeton, was also successful in running as an 800-meter runner for Notre Dame who ran 1:47 and had sixth and seventh place finishes at NCAAs in 1966 and 1967. Was Pete one of those guys who was close and knocking at the door, but couldn’t make the jump to World Class runner?
TF His times were better than mine up until a certain period around his sophomore or junior year in college. He ran better than I did for the indoor half mile and broke my record, though it was on a longer track at Notre Dame that was 200 meters or 220 yards, a different track with different surface. He ran 1:49 there. We give Pete credit for breaking my record, so we kept it in the family. Pete was a little more fragile than me. He kept getting injured. If he had stayed healthy, he would have been a threat at the Olympic Trials. But something always happened. I was a faster runner, but he was stronger. He was better in cross country. He could run distances better than I could. He was taller than me. If he had breaks and didn’t get injured, it would have been great to have him as a fellow Olympian. There were a few good brother combinations at that time – the Germann brothers, the Perry brothers and the Farrell brothers, that all ran the 800 meters and were good.
GCR: When you are asked to sum up in a minute or two the major lessons you have learned during your life from the discipline of running, working in the corporate environment for thirty years and overcoming adversity, what you would like to share with my readers that will help them on the pathway to reaching their potential athletically and as a person that is the ‘Tom Farrell Philosophy of Life?’
TF I try to instill with the St. Johns team that they need to attempt to do the best they can always. They need to be faithful and dedicated. They need to show up. There are basic principles learned from parents or coaches that should be instilled in them. If they are consistent and team players, are faithful and dedicated to their team, and show up with the right attitude, they will go far. Don’t knock people. Always help people. I was on many relay teams, and we competed against many very good relay teams. Sometimes we had a good team and sometimes we didn’t, and it would be frustrating to get the baton so far behind that we were almost out of the race. Even if you are out of it, you still make the effort to catch people and do the best you can so no one can say, ‘I wish that guy had run faster.’ We show respect to others, show up every day, do the best we can, and try to improve with the right attitude. That is all we can ask of anybody. I tried to keep that in mind. Even in high school, with two hundred kids on the track at one time, not everyone was going to be a world beater and not everybody was going to run World Record times. But it gave people a chance to participate, feel good about themselves and learn something. I try to emphasize these types of things.
  Inside Stuff
Hobbies/Interests My wife and I like to try to walk every day as much as we can. I don’t know the last time it rained here, but we get up into the hills a couple miles from where we live, either early in the morning or late afternoon when its not quite so hot. Some days it has been over a hundred degrees which is brutal. We also try to go to the gym five or six days a week. There is a group of guys we meet with. Covid sidelined us somewhat. There is a guy who is ninety-six and a couple guys in their eighties. It’s fun to meet up with them maybe three days a week. I don’t have any other hobbies except visiting with my grandkids
Nicknames ‘Tommy,’ ‘T’ or ‘T.F.’ My fraternity brothers nicknamed me, ‘Turtle,’ though I didn’t particularly care for that
Favorite movies I liked ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Raiders of the Lost Ark’ series
Favorite TV shows I like ‘NCIS’ now. Years ago, ‘The Twilight Zone.’ Just the other day a guy at the gym asked me if I remembered Gene Shatner and I said I recalled an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ where he was on a plane and there was something out of the window on the wing of the plane with lightning striking and no one else can see it. Shatner tries to break out of the window, and they finally had to put him in a straight jacket. Then, at the end, they pan toward the wing, and it is all torn up (interviewer’s note: I told Tom I also remembered that episode). Another episode is ‘To Serve Man’ where they had men in cages, and we didn’t realize until the end that these creatures were going to eat the humans
Favorite music I’ve been to between a hundred and a hundred fifty ‘Grateful Dead’ concerts. We were Dead Heads. This was in the 1970s and 1980s and into the 1990s before Jerry Garcia died in 1995. If the Dead played in Santa Barbara, San Bernadino, and Los Angeles, if there were six concerts in seven nights, we would go to all of them that were within driving range. We would go up to San Francisco for a concert. We would see some of their side projects like when Bob Weir had a group or Jerry had the Jerry Garcia Band. Over the years, the Grateful Dead and the New Riders of the Purple Sage were the two groups we would see as often as possible. I like the Grateful Dead’s span of music from country to rock to acid and many other types of music
Favorite books Track and Field stories. I liked Ralph Doubell’s book and Peter Snell’s book
First cars When I was growing up in New York, we didn’t have a car. We didn’t need one. When my girlfriend came around, who is now my wife, she had a car, so I latched onto her. She had a two seat 1966 Mustang, which was a cool car. That is what I consider our first car. Next, I had a Pontiac. Then I made some money and was a bit of a wise guy so in 1983 I went into the Mercedes Benz Beverly Hills dealership and said, ‘I’ll take that one.’ So, off the showroom floor I bought a 300SV Turbo Diesel. A friend of mine had one and I thought it was a cool car. I spent a fortune for it at the time. I wanted it and kept it from 1983 to 1997 when it gave way. Then I bought a Lexus that I had until last year, so over twenty years
Current car Before we went to New Zealand, we had no car because we sold my wife’s car and were planning to go for only a few weeks. We went for three weeks and stayed fourteen to fifteen months. I got rid of this Lexus to a policeman friend of mine. I went into the Lexus dealership and told them I wanted to lease a car for two hundred fifty dollars a month. I didn’t want to spend on a big-ticket car and I got a Toyota Corolla. So, from 1983 to the present I have only had three cars and one is only for a little over a year. Now, I figure every two or three years I will get a new lease car and turn them over. The Toyota Corolla drives fine. I would like something else but don’t want to spend six or seven hundred dollars a month on a car. I can but don’t want to
First Jobs I never worked as a teenager. My allergy picked up when I had to work. I’m just kidding. I was allergic to work. I was an altar boy in Grammar School. I was the lead altar boy. The priest who oversaw the altar boys asked me if I wanted to work in the rectory answering the phone and I said I would. But I was so shy. I was there to answer the phone, answer the door and do whatever was needed. I don’t even know if they paid me. But when the phone rang, I was too shy to answer it. They got ticked off at me because I was supposed to answer it and take messages and help people out. When the phone rang, I would go and hide somewhere because I didn’t want to answer it. Finally, they said I couldn’t work anymore if I wasn’t going to answer the phone. The next job I had was at the 1964 World’s fair at Flushing Meadow in Queens. The Worlds Fairs back then were big. It was held where Shea Stadium is now where the New York Mets play baseball. All the companies were hiring from the local colleges. I interviewed and got the job working at the General Motors pavilion where they had a people mover, and I would escort guests onto the moving floor into the vehicles that were there to take them to where General Motors had their car designs and models for the future. I went to school, worked out, studied a bit even though I wasn’t the best student, ate dinner and then went to work. After one night, they told me I had to wear a uniform. I would have to take care of the uniform, carry it with me and get it to my job. Then I would have to wake up and do it all over again. After the first day, I knew this wasn’t for me. I was more interested in going to school and resting. The minimum wage, which is what they were paying was about a dollar and a quarter an hour. I was thinking that, since I was getting a scholarship, I had to get home and rest and I had upcoming competitions, and all the standing on my feet wasn’t good. Also, if I worked three hours from six-thirty to nine-thirty, I would walk away with less than ten dollars. That wasn’t worth it, so after the first night I quit. That was the only job I had. In the summertime we had a house in Long Beach. We lived in Queens in Forest Hills with our grandparents who weren’t well-to-do, but did okay. Each set of grandparents had a house in Long Beach, and we would spend the summers on the beach. That is what I looked forward to for June, July and the first part of August. Before Labor Day we would go back to Queens which was only a half hour away. The big thing was to hang out with your friends. I never wanted to work because I trained in the summertime, and it was too much to go to school and train and to work. And I never had any money
Family My wife is Chris. Her parents owned a German-style delicatessen in Hollis, New York which is in Queens, not far from S. Johns. We’ve been married, July second, for fifty-five years. I met her in summer school, and she had a car. When I went to college, I wasn’t the best student. My thought wasn’t that I would flunk out, but I wanted to ensure that I did stay in school. During the regular school year, I took twelve to fourteen units when the average class load was about eighteen units. So, I withdrew from a couple classes early, and I went to summer school every year to make up the difference. I would have graduated in four years. Back then, it was like a stigma if you didn’t finish in four years. It was like something was wrong with you compared to now when people take their time. We met in summer school after our freshman year and started dating. I joined a fraternity, and she joined a sorority. I had to wear what she wore during the rush period. She had a dress with some propellers and balloons on it and my brothers in my fraternity made me wear something similar. After I went through the hazing and became a fraternity brother, I received a pin. Then I gave the pin to my girlfriend which meant we were going steady. This was in 1961, a long time ago. That meant she was going with me. Then it was common after the junior year to buy your girlfriend a diamond ring and get engaged. When you graduated from school, you got married and moved a couple blocks from mom. That was typical of what guys did, at least my friends and people in my circle. We got married the week after the Nationals at Randall’s Island and before the Russian meet, which was postponed. We were told we would never have kids and, suddenly, we had two kids. We have a daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Shawn. They are great people. Shawn has two girls, Zoe and Haley. Jennifer has two boys, Jordan and James. We are very close with them and brought them to New Zealand with us more than once. We are a very close family
Pets When I was growing up, we had an Irish Setter. Being Irish, my father had this Irish Setter named Kelly. He bred her with another Irish Setter, and they had eight puppies that were adorable. I must have been ten, eleven or twelve years old at the time. My father didn’t sell them. He gave them away. They all had Irish names like McNulty and Kelly. After I got married, we had a couple of cats. Now, being in our retirement years and with us going away and spending as much time as we do in New Zealand, we can’t have pets and gave that up
Favorite breakfast My favorite meal of the day is breakfast. I used to always have sunny side up eggs with bacon and toast. That is my favorite meal. As the years went by, I stopped having that and now I have cereal and fruit and yogurt. I kind of gave up the greasy foods, but still love bacon and eggs. It is my favorite and I still have it occasionally. It is so good
Favorite meal I eat a lot of chicken and not too much steak. I could eat chicken every meal
Favorite beverages It’s just water. I stick with water and do like Gatorade. I’ll have a couple beers a year. I used to drink more, but when you go out with people and have a few beers you get silly. We all used to drink a lot of beers years ago after work because that was the thing to do. When you don’t drink alcohol, you see how some of your friends become jerks when they get drunk. I am very much anti drinking and driving
First running memory I remember I was invited by my Grammar School sweetheart, Joan Roberts, to visit her in Forest Hills. Her dad was an attorney, and I was in seventh or eight grade. They went to a beach club, and I went with them down near Long Beach, but on the other end which was Atlantic Beach. There was a sports day and there were prizes. I decided to race. They drew a line in the sand, and it may have been fifty meters or a little further. That is the first competitive race I remember running. We were running for a prize, and I didn’t win, but my prize was a tie. I was very nervous and took it very seriously, because the guys I ran against were all bigger and older. That sticks in my mind as my first race of any kind. My first competitive race was an intramural race as a freshman at Malloy and that was official. I still have the picture from that, and it is my favorite picture. It was a track meet at Victory Field in Queens, a 440-yard track. That’s where I was told I made the track team
Running heroes Definitely Peter Snell. He’s the number one. I remember the news in 1960 that a ‘black-clad New Zealander wins the 800 meters’ at the Olympics. For some reason, it perked me up and I started looking into him. It wasn’t on TV but was in newsreels and newspapers and magazines. It struck me, and, when I saw pictures of him, I was struck by how much I resembled him. He was big and I looked like him with my ears out and a similar hair style. We had some similarities in our running form, and I looked like him. It was 1960 and I was sixteen years old. Even years later after the 1964 Olympics when I went to New Zealand, I was walking down the street and a lady came up to me and said, ‘I know who you are.’ I was there by myself and said, ‘You do?’ The newspapers had been writing about me and my upcoming races with Peter Snell which was neat to be in a foreign country and to have the press writing about you. So, she says, ‘You’re Peter Snell.’ I said, ‘No. I wish I was, but I’m not.’ I got to know Peter and his first wife, Sally, and we went on a boat trip together. It was Peter, his wife and a couple of Australian friends and we went to this lake way down on the South Island of New Zealand. She told me she thought I looked like him and I was a miniature Peter and how much we resembled each other so I guess there was something there. Now I’m friends with his widow, Mickey. She writes to me about how she misses Peter so much and how much I resemble him in pictures and how I bring back good memories. So, we have been corresponding occasionally. H was the guy in my life that I always thought was it. Then he set the World Record in the mile and 800 meters. Being on the starting line with him was mind-blowing. What the heck was I doing there?
Greatest running moments The 1964 Olympic Trials and the 1968 Olympic Trials. Those two races meant the most because they mean the most. Back then, it was either the Olympics or you went home if you didn’t make it. It was such a struggle to make the team. It was such a pressure couple of days at the Olympic Trials. When you make the team, it’s a tremendous feeling. Those are the two that I think about every day. I think about those races all the time because they mean so much. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like to finish fourth. My heart’s out to a guy, but I’d rather it be him than me. Those two races and setting my mind to set a World Record in the 880 indoors is another one I think of. And winning the NCAAs twice and the national AAU meet. So, it’s a combination of all those races. I watch guys now when they run, and they are in their thirties and have run the National Championships for twelve or thirteen years. I ran the National Championships, other than the NCAAs, twice in my life. My running career only went from 1964 to 1968, four or five years, and was short. Like I said before, it was a mistake to stop. I needed better counseling. I needed someone to talk to. But I was through and walked away
Worst running moment At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, I was very disappointed in finishing third. Although I was happy to finish third, I was disappointed in my performance. My foot was bothering me, but I did get beat that day by two better guys. It was so difficult to make the team and to peak a month before the Olympic Games. Before I won the Trials, if I was going to go out and run a fifty-second quarter mile, I could stride through it easy. After I made the team and a week later, I could still go out and run that fifty-second pace, but it took more of an effort. I had peaked and had to try to peak again, and I felt I wasn’t gaining. I was going downhill a bit. I felt, going into the Olympics in Mexico City, I had as good a chance as anyone to win, which I did. I had the fastest time ever run at altitude. We weren’t sure what affect the altitude would have. In the distance races it was going to have an impact, but they didn’t know where that line was that changed from helping us to hurting us. In the 400 meters and below and the jumps it helped and was beneficial. For the 800 meters they weren’t sure because they had never had a major competition like this at altitude. When I got to Mexico City, Kiprugut ran a 1:45 in the Olympic Village and that was not good for me. Plus, Doubell was coming around. I wasn’t overly concerned about Doubell, as he hadn’t done much and it was out of season for the Australian runners, but he was one of several guys who could win. He just hit it right at the time. In the U.S. it is hard because we must make the team and then compete in the Olympics. In many other countries they select their team so you can peak for the Olympics. Those are big differences
Childhood dreams My goal for a long time was to be like Tom Courtney, though he didn’t set a World Record when he got the Gold Medal. I thought that winning a Gold Medal while setting a World Record was my ultimate goal
Funny memories My grandson, Jordan, asked me several years ago if I could come to his class. He is going to be twenty years old, so this must have been ten years ago. He wanted me to go to his class and to bring my Olympic medal. I brought a couple uniforms in also. I was talking to his class about the Olympics and where the next one would be and all the countries that went. I said, ‘I need someone in the audience to help me. Is there anybody who can help?’ And Jordan raises his hand. I said, ‘What’s your name son?’ He tells me and then says, ‘You’re my grandfather.’ It was a fun day and nice for him because he was so proud. Now, when I talk about the Olympics and he is there, it’s more like, ‘Oh he’s talking about this again?’ So, we joke about this
Favorite places to travel New Zealand is it – nowhere else. I fell in love with New Zealand when I went there in 1964. The people are great, the country is beautiful, and the scenery is magnificent. The lakes, the rivers, climbing the fjords and on the glaciers, and doing all those things, I can’t wait to get back. The fifteen months we spent there recently went by in a blink of an eye. When we were leaving to come back to the States in March of 2020, we had a flight scheduled at two o’clock the next afternoon. The covid restrictions hit and things started getting crazy. My wife has asthma, and her immune system isn’t the best. My son and daughter said we should stay where we were and not come back. At four o’clock in the afternoon we were packing to leave the next day. I made phone calls and finally got through to New Zealand immigration and explained our situation. The lady said she would review our passports and visas. She asked if we would feel better if we could stay six months. I asked my wife and we quit packing and decided to stay. My wife and I only brought our medications to last three weeks, so we called a doctor friend who works in New Zealand, and he said he would write prescriptions for whatever we needed. We checked with the airlines, and they said if we cancelled to let them know when we wanted to fly and they would rebook us. We stayed six months. Then they allowed us to stay another five months. After the five months, they let us stay for another extension, so we stayed there. We were grateful that New Zealand let us stay there. We did a bunch of those big walks. We did the Milford track with a group called ‘Ultimate Hikes.’ It was a guided and glamming walk where we stayed in nice places. That company is known for hikes worldwide and it was a lot of fun. In the U.S., I like New York City. It is one of my favorite places, not so much the city itself, but being a New Yorker, the last twenty years I enjoy spending my three to five months there. I live here in California, go to New York four or five times and go to New Zealand. We went to Israel on a tour with a church group about five years ago for a fifteen-day tour. It was very neat except it was so hot