Bill Hurd: fifty yards, real fast

Stumbled across this profile of former Notre Dame sprinter Bill Hurd while looking for something else this morning.


When I was running track in high school, we’d occasionally attend off-season, open track meets as members of the Kalamazoo Track Club rather than representatives of our school.  In winter, those would be indoor meets at the local universities–I remember meets at Western & Eastern Michigan, I think at Michigan State, and (definitely on my sixteenth birthday) at Yost Field House at the University of Michigan.  These were long days on the bleachers, mostly, except when we were actually competing.  We’d keep our eyes on the events, of course, and root on our friends and teammates.

Occasionally something remarkable would happen.  I once saw Notre Dame freshman Bill Hurd win a fifty yard dash final, against excellent college competition, by several yards.  Think about that.  Absolutely amazing.


A handful of notes:

  • Yes, we still measured our events in yards when I was running.  We used stop watches for timing, too.  But we were aware of meters, and had encountered electronic timers.
  • Fifty yards and out the door.  Short sprints are indoor events, and it’s pretty common for the runway to end at a padded wall.
  • Winning a short sprint’s a special skill, but raw speed helps a whole lot.
  • Bill Hurd’s had a more interesting life than most of us.  Glad I looked it up.
  • Yost Field House still stands, but it’s become something quite different.
  • Western Michigan’s Read Field House also still stands but has been rebuilt twice since I knew the place.  The really ugly shell’s the only remnant of the original facility.
  • Western’s discontinuing their Track and XC programs as a result of Michigan’s budget cuts.  In my gut, that irritates me more than the pay cuts and furlough days.  Save WMU Track!
  • The Kalamazoo Runners trace their history to the Mall City Pacers in, say, 1967, who became the Kalamazoo Track Club at a later date.  Our mid-sixties KTC was basically a convenience for the local high school coaches, but it was inevitable that something else would evolve from that.  The succession might or might not be direct–frankly, I no longer remember, since I wasn’t really involved–but there’s some continuity.  I recall Jim Giachino and Ron Nehring running an endurance event as KTC members in what was likely 1966.
  • Strangely but true: This comment was provoked by a discussion about Mickey Mantle on the Society for American Baseball Research‘s mailing list, SABR-L.
  • Frankly, enough of this is from memory that I’d not depend on it without checking other sources.