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Forum: Memories and Stories


SPAL Cross Country Prank by Bob Langfelder

Created on: 08/17/11 05:58 PM Views: 252 Replies: 1
SPAL Cross Country Prank by Bob Langfelder
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011 12:58 PM

 SPAL Cross-Country Prank!

By Bob Langfelder


In my senior year I decided, wisely now, to not go out for football, but, instead, to go out for cross-country and get in shape for coming basketball season. I never made it past running on the Paly JV “Harriers” team. When it came time, in November , 1960, for the SPAL JV Finals at Stanford Golf course, I wanted to try to win the race. How would I do it being I was not a great runner; it was simple, cheat! My best friend, Bob Agramonte, Aggie, also on the JV team, was injured that day so he joined in my conspiracy.


The plan was simple. Pull one on Coach Forrest Jamison. The Stanford course for cross country I think started on the 2nd hole tee, and finished there. The runners would go down the 2nd hole Par 4 fairway, cut across a couple of other fairways, about  one mile, and circle around and come back the same route to the finish line at the 2nd hole tee. A two-mile race.


So, the plan was simple. I would go out with the pack, run all out so I was near the front. Then Aggie would hide in bushes by the 3rd hole, and when I came by, he would signal me to come to a safe place to hide and wait for the runners to return coming the other way toward the finish line.


It all went to plan perfectly. I got off to a good start, was right with the front group. I wondered how could these runners keep this up two miles. I was exhausted when I saw Aggie and I ducked in behind the heavy bushes and trees. Then all the rest of the  runners went by, and Aggie and I talked strategy. “Aggie, I can’t win the race. It would not be fair to the good runners.”   “Yes, you can do it, win the whole race. No one will know,” urged Aggies. So we waited forever, it seemed, more like 6 minutes. (The race takes about 10-11 minutes total.)


And then the pack of leaders, maybe 6 runners, started coming up the course our way bunched together. “Wait until they go buy, then make your move behind them, and catch them down the stretch,” urged Aggie.


So I waited anxiously as the lead pack went by, I think one Paly runner in the group.

Then I made me move. I was running easily and I noticed, of course, how the lead runners were panting and struggling to keep going.  I moved up into 4th place when a pang of conscience came over me. “It is not right to win this race.” And I do not know if I could have, but I pulled back, with a couple of hundred yards to go,  and let the top 10 runners or so finished ahead of me. As I hit the finish line, I got a number #11 for my order of finish and I had to give that #11 and my name to the head judge. I did. Teammates came up, and congratulated me including Aggie. “Great race Langy!” I nodded pretending exhaustion. I think a runner from MA won the race and a Palo Alto runner came in 3rd. Paly won the team competition. The Paly runner who took 3rd,I forget his name, and it was not Walter Hewitt who won the SPAL Varsity event, Third Place said to me, “Boy, I was surprised to see you in the final group. It was like you came out of nowhere.” I nodded. “Yea, I did.”  And I got away with it.


Except for the next day at the team meeting, the famous track and cross country Coach “Crew Cut”  Jamison, smiled and told the team that he had to call the SPAL office to disqualify “Langfelder”. Jamison said he knew I had cheated because at the halfway point to the race, he stands with a stopwatch and yells out and writes down Paly runners times as they go by. He did not see me go by. “Oh, coach,” I pleaded, “ I went by so fast you missed me.” “No,” smiled Jamison again,  “I did not see you. Good try. And I must confess I considered the same tactic with the Bardsley twins, (lookalikes Junior twins, David and George) having David run the first half of the race, then slip the other twin, George, in at one of the blind spots on the course to finish the race.  I think that was better scheme than Langfelder's, …”  Everyone laughed.


And that was it. I was not banned from the SPAL for the rest of the year. I was not expelled from school or disciplined in anyway. Neither was Aggie. My high school cross-country career was over. I had almost pulled one over on the SPAL and Jamison.  A prank, sort of.  I never cheated in a race again. OK, I never ran one again. The lesson was I could not win the race because I felt empathy for the other runners. Or was the lesson, I should be come up with a better scheme next time? That damn Jamison at the half -way point. Hey, it was high school and we had fun…



Karl, was it not Rosie or someone, a runner who hoped on the subway, advanced 30 blocks and came back into the race. I am not in that league. Bob

RE: SPAL Cross Country Prank by Bob Langfelder
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011 04:23 PM


And now, drumroll, you go down in history books along with with Rosie Ruiz ('80 Boston Marathon) and Jean's Marines ('05 Marine Corp Classic)--and maybe Barry Bonds--as an asterisk kind of athlete. What's next? Maybe Sports Illstated's Hall of Ill Fame for runners!

Great story.

Edited 08/17/11 04:25 PM