Wednesday, July 12, 2000 -- Connellsville, PA
The John Woodruff Story
Story & photos by Julie Bertsch
What was it was like to be in the 1936 Olympics?
"I ran 3 races, the preliminary, the semi-final, and the final. Everything in the Olympics is run in meters, not yards you see." said Woodruff.
What happened during those races?
"I stayed out in front in the first 2 races, and that's how I won them." he explained.
"In the final race, I decided to run 2nd to the leader who was Phil Edwards of Canada." Woodruff's eyes widened. "He set a very slow pace. At the end of the first turn of the last 400 meters, I got boxed in."
"Yes, boxed in by the other runners." Woodruff repeated. "I couldn't pass straight ahead, or I might have been disqualified for clipping somebody." Of the 8 runners in the race, Woodruff was among the top 3 or 4 in the pack. Elbow to elbow, they battled round the last tight turn of the track.
"Finally, I just stopped." he said.
"Well I completely stopped, and then went out into the 3rd lane to get out of "the box". Then I ran around the leaders and won the race! My time was 1:52.9." he said with a stiff upper lip and then a hearty smile.
After finishing the 800-meter run from a stand-still, to a full sprint
over the line passing the world's elites, John Woodruff won the gold
medal. He also served as an officer in a segregated army unit during
World War II.
(FPG International, New York)
He has been a part of the John Woodruff Run for 18 years, and happily signs autographs for racers every year. There is a tree called The Woodruff that is rumored, was brought back from Berlin as a sapling, and planted in the Connellsville Stadium. It's sturdiness forever reminds us of the stand that Woodruff and the other American Athletes took by participating in the 1936 Olympics.