Friday, June 10, 2016

V. 1 #26 Cincinnati’s Indoor Track Palace in the Early Part of the Century

V. 1  #26   Cincinnati’s Indoor Track Palace in the Early Part of the Century

The Central YMCA hosted an annual March midwinter athletic carnival in the Ohio National Guard Armory at 1443 Freeman Avenue.  Although the armory was built in 1889 for the  Guard, it also served as a center for a variety of sporting activities. Its usefulness as a venue for sports ended by 1960 and by the late 1980s it was demolished.

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This YMCA event, one of the most popular track meets of the year, began in 1900. In 1920 the 2-mile walk received top billing in a newspaper article, which promoted the meet, thus indicating the popularity of walking relative to running.

Listed among the race results that year was a Walnut Hills High School athlete who won the 50-yard dashes of both the Interscholastic Junior and Senior divisions. His name was DeHart Hubbard. In just a few years he was to achieve Olympic and World record fame.

The 1924 YMCA Athletic Carnival created a great deal of interest. Why the crowds?  The big draw was Joie Ray and his Illinois Athletic Club teammates. Folks wanted to see them and they were curious as to how the local athletes would fare against this caliber of competition. Due to the meet’s popularity, the American Walkers Association was going to have a rooting section at the carnival. However, it was necessary for members to get reservations beforehand.

Ray qualified for each of the three Olympic Games that were contested during the 1920s. At one point he held the world records for both the one and two-mile distances.

Joie Ray

He was a famous personality and well known throughout the country. He, along with Paavo Nurmi who was touring the USA, was invited to meet with the President. Nurmi, multi Olympic champion from Finland, was the most prominent distance runner in the world.

L-R  Joie Ray, President Calvin Coolidge, Paavo Nurmi, ?

Ray’s teammates were more than capable themselves.  The I.A.C. was a loaded squad and they were primed to display their capabilities before the Cincinnati witnesses.

The evening started with Ray eclipsing the old meet mark in the two-mile run.

From that beginning the evening continued to produce many top performances.

When the meet concluded, the powerful Illinois Athletic Club team won with 46 points, which more than doubled the score of the Cincinnati YMCA team who finished second with 22 points.

Yes indeed, indoor track was roaring at the Freeman Avenue Ohio National Guard Armory during the mid 20s.

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