Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running

Hartshorne Mile

Ford Sets World Record

Published January 22, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

The alarm woke me up from a deep sleep. The digital clock read 0500 hours. I sat in bed disoriented in space and time. It took me several seconds to realize that I was at home, due to travel to Ithaca to webcast the Cornell Invitational and the Hartshorne Masters Mile from Barton Hall.

The oldest event of its kind, the thirty-fourth running of the Hartshorne Mile promised drama and excitement. Fellow Pompey runner Patti Ford competed in eight of the last nine events, and her recent performances put her within reach of both the US and world age group indoor records for the mile.

The ride down I-81 was upbeat, as the interns chattered about the prospects of witnessing and recording a world record. We traveled through the frigid countryside, and reached Cornell as the sun broke shyly over the Ivy League campus.

We proceeded to set-up the equipment, and encountered the usual computer problems. We welcomed out world-wide audience, and promised them action and excitement. I visited briefly with Ford, and gave her my best wishes. She shared with me her race strategy: eight 40-second laps give a 5:20 mile, just under the world record.

After introducing the runners, meet director Rick Hoebeke fired the starting gun. Ford covered the 9-meter offset and the first lap in 42 seconds, then went through the second lap in 1:21. Without my morning coffee, and fidgeting with excitement, my brain could not compute the pace. By the time I powered my calculator, Ford had finished the third lap in exactly 2 minutes.

The field of a dozen women had dwindled to a lead trio of 36-year old Becky Heuer, 45-year-old Ford, and 50-year-old Carolyn Smith-Hanna. Although they ran in the same heat on the same track, they were in separate age-group races. Ford ran close on the heels of Heuer. Ford held her arms too high, and her muscles appeared tight. Her stride seemed cramped, and she appeared tense.

They went through four laps in 2:40, and five laps in 3:20, right on pace for a world record. Heuer increased her speed in the sixth lap, and rapidly built a lead of several meters on Ford. This move gave Ford room to regain her stride. She dropped her arms, relaxed her shoulders, and loosened her muscles. She floated over the track, and slowly reeled Heuer back towards her.

They entered the bell lap in 4:40. Their pace quickened as the screams of the crowd deafened the footsteps of the runners. Heuer crossed the line first. Ford followed in 5:18.10, a new 45-49 age group indoor world record for the mile. Smith-Hanna finished third in 5:27.3, also an age group indoor world record.

A true champion, Ford turned around and cheered the rest of the field as they completed the race. After her cool-down, Ford confided that she had not been feeling well due to a sore throat. We wish her a speedy recovery and faster times at the upcoming US Nationals in March.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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