Forrest Jamieson, runner and coach

Galt can be very proud of the life of Jamie.   This page is ongoing and will attempt to document his life.   First is a paper that he wrote about how he learned to run.


The Paper Route

By Forrest (Jamie) Jamieson

Now and then when I find myself in a gathering of old-timers (persons of my age), someone will mention how rough the Depression days were! As I look back now, I don't recall that life was all that bad.   True, I was always hungry but that came with the territory of being young.   I actually missed few meals.   A country boy that wasn't afraid to do hard work could always trade work for a meal from a neighboring farmer.

So it was in the fall of 1931.   An early maturing lad of 12 years, 5' 9" and weighing close to 145 lbs, neighbors had only to tell me that I could pass as a 14 or 15 year old and I would do anything in the line of hard physical labor for them .   My parents had difficulty in getting me to perform routine menial chores.

In my world, at that time, a truly important happening had to do with baseball.   The St Louis Cardinals had just defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 4 games to 3 in the World Series.   I became "hooked" on major league baseball and my dream was to one day play baseball for the Cardinals.   Reality presented a different face.   My father was closing in on his 65th birthday and worked now and then as a farm laborer.   This was in the final months of the Hoover Administration — before FDR, the New Deal, old-age pensions and Social Security! An older brother was "farmed out" to live with a chicken farmer for his board and room.   My younger brother and I shared a mattress placed on the floor.   My mother cooked on a wood stove and went outside to pump water.   We all shared a Chic Sale - type outhouse located 40 yards deep in the lot.   We managed to survive.   It was at this time that the wheel of fortune spun in my favor.

Late that October, a man from the Sacramento Bee came to our place looking for me.   I was rarely ever at home during the day so he left word with my mother that he had a job for me.   Apparently, someone told him that I was dependable?  I met Vernon P.   Willett the next day and he explained why he was going to start a paper route.
It appeared that a number of homes, mainly farmhouses, were current subscribers to the Bee.   They received the paper by mail a day and sometimes two days after it was printed in Sacramento.   Mr.   Willett hit upon the idea of soliciting subscriptions along a certain 3 mile stretch of straight road, to subscribe for the afternoon Bee.   After spending a few days he had 30 subscribers.   About half were already receiving the paper through the mail and half were new subscribers.   His "pitch" was that they would receive the Bee on the same day that it was printed.   At that time the Bee was an afternoon paper that was printed daily at 11:30 AM in Sacramento (no Sunday delivery).

His promise was that the paper for this new route would be put aboard the 2 PM Sacramento-Stockton Greyhound Bus, to be dropped off at the intersection of the Lincoln Highway and the lone-Jackson Road (Now known as Highway 99 & Twin Cities Road).   The 30 subscribers were delighted.

Mr.   Willett enthused that eventually other subscribers would join as the word spread about.   "Get in", I'll take you around the route".   The route started at the intersection of Highway 99 and Twin Cities Road and headed directly east (toward Herald).   The 30 prospective customers were thinly scattered.   Some customers were close to the road, some had their homes on spur-roads that fed onto Twin Cities Road.

I started the route on November 1st.   The total distance at the beginning was six miles (out and back).   I couldn't afford a bicycle so there was no choice but to walk the route.   It worked out that I netted 17 cents a month for each customer.   That amounted to $5.10.   That doesn't seem much by today's reckoning but that could purchase considerable in 1931.   So, I started out walking the route, thinking in terms of walking the full 6 miles.   I discovered on that first day that I was never to walk the full distance, out and back.

The Greyhound bus dropped my bundle of papers, across the road from the Twin Cities School, at Matt Leavey's restaurant and service station, at close to 2:30 PM.   Twin Cities School was dismissed at 3:15 PM.   Sunset varied from 4:45 to 5:30 PM.   Obviously, I would have to step along.

That first month I felt sorry for myself, but once I got into the routine, I realized that it was easy.   As I headed east, my load lightened and as soon as I delivered the last paper, I started hitch-hiking back homeward.   I never failed to catch a ride some part of the way back.

The winter months had the potential to be nasty, but I don't recall getting drenched at any time during the entire 4 plus years was on the route.   Get rained on, yes, get soaked, no.

After the first 3 months, I reversed the order of delivering.   I would pick up my entire bundle of papers at the Greyhound bus drop-off, hitch a ride all way to the end of the route and start delivering in reverse order.   I recall that it worked out to be faster.

So it went until I entered my freshman year at Galt High in the fall of 1933.   Leaving grade school and entering high school caused a time- change in my paper pick-up and delivery times.   My pick-up when I attended Twin Cities School was school dismissal at 3:15 PM.   Pick-up time after I started to high school ranged between 3:45 and 4:00 PM .   This later pick-up became a daylight problem during the winter months.   My subscribers were not happy about the later delivery time.   Something would have to be done to resolve this dilemma.

I knew that stepping up my pace would help in part.   But exactly how I was to do this, I hadn't a clue.   I tried several patterns of walking fast and trotting.   One thing that I came up with was the power pole game.   Simply, it dealt with running at a certain pace without stopping.   These huge public utility poles were placed 85 yards apart on the right hand side of the road (heading eastward toward Herald) and continued on past the end of the route.   I didn't measure the distance between these poles until years later.   At that time yardage didn't matter—it was a war between the distances between those monstrous poles and my inner self.   When I first started this game, I couldn't run more than four of these distances between the poles without stopping.   How fast did I run?  I did not run "flat-out" because I knew that I could not possibly run "flat-out" for very long.   Also, I had to "stuff" each paper into either a mailbox or a newspaper receptacle as quickly as possible and not mutilate it.   Within the framework of this "game", my object was to determine how many "distances" between the huge poles I could "mow-down".
Before the end of March (1934) I conquered all the poles to the end of the route.   The pace was somewhere between a fast trot or jog.   Whatever the pace, it solved the problem having the papers delivered before the sun went down.   I didn't try the "power-pole game" every day.   Maybe two or three days in a week.   When I did conquer all of the poles, I never tried it again.   For one thing, daylight hours were increasing and the need wasn't there.

The days on the paper route did leave a trace of habit pattern.   Now, whenever I day dream about something that has an exhilarating effect on me, I feel an uncontrollable urge to get up and run.   Did this mean that I was beginning to enjoy running?

I mentioned earlier that just before the paper route I had become "hooked" on major league baseball and that it was my dream to become a professional baseball player.   It could be that the Galt High School baseball teams of 1932 and 1933 played a part in my separating dream from reality?

The GABS baseball team of 1932 did not have an excellent win and lost record, but it did have ten kids that played together all that year.   When the regular high school season was over they continued to play in summer league games.   Most of them tried out for and made the Lodi American Legion team.   As a matter of fact, there were more Galt kids playing on the Lodi team than there were Lodi kids!

This playing baseball almost all summer had a surprising result Playing some 30 plus games that summer transformed some of the players from fairly good players into seasoned veterans! Some players joined teams in the Sacramento Winter League and this further added a higher level of experience.   So when these juniors and seniors returned to the 1933 Galt High team, it was no great surprise they were undefeated in 12 consecutive league and C.I.F.   play-off games.   Galt High won the Northern California C.I.F.   title by shutting out Woodland High 4 to 0.   Stan Steely, Galt High's pitcher, was an outstanding pitcher.   Stan went on to play professional baseball in the minor leagues.   His career ended some 4 years later with a crippling shoulder injury.

I watched enough of those 1933 games to begin to suspect that I might not be good enough to be in their class.   I looked forward that spring day in April of 1934 when Coach Fry opened the baseball season with a "try-out" day.
I didn't think that 1 was a cinch but did believe that I was good enough to be granted a tryout The coach totally ignored me.   I was crushed! It was the same coach that coached the Steely-led team.   I learned later that while he didn't have players comparable to the 1933 team, he earlier contacted current prospects he knew and issued equipment to them.   No "try-out" was held.   It was a consolation of sorts that no freshman did make the team.   I moped about a bit but life must go on.   I vowed that I would show them next year!

In the fall of 1934, I returned to Galt High as a sophomore.   A new principal took over that fall and brought with him a new coach.   In those days in small rural schools, a coach taught all of the boys P.E.   classes and coached all team sports.   I met the new coach when I reported to the compulsory P.E.   class.   Some time after roil call and during the organizing period, Coach Ellis called me aside and asked my name.   He could tell from his roll-call sheet that I was a sophomore but the roll-call didn't show that I was 6' and weighed over 150 Ibs.   "Do you play football?" "No, I only play baseball", I answered.   He then went on to make a sales talk for football, but I wasn't listening and he soon realized it.   I could sense that I might have made an enemy?

I did get along with Ellis in the daily P.E.   class that semester and into the spring semester.   The day after the last basketball games, shocking news was announced that there would be no baseball team representing our high school that spring.   It was like a death in the family to me.   The announcement pointed out that due to the high cost of baseball equipment, a change to having a track team would be made.   Track would give an opportunity to three times the number of baseball players to compete and the total cost was less.   Something was said about there being a Depression.   But I was angry and joined in with some of the few returning baseball players to make up a petition, protesting this ridiculous and unbelievable circumstance.   When we could find only 40 signers (out of over 220 students) we knew our chances were slim, but we submitted it nonetheless.   It was turned down politely but firmly.

I was a poor loser and sulked around and made myself a true enemy of Coach Ellis as well as some of the other faculty members.

After three weeks of this immaturity, my best friend, a fellow baseball player, cornered me and said, "Why don't you come out for track?  You know that there is a football throw event as one of 13 events in a track meet.
I'm out for it myself.   You have a damn good arm and I think you'd do better than me".   I didn't say anything but I thought about it.   I had contacted someone the year before to take over the paper route earlier when I thought I would be able to go out for baseball.   I had taught him the route then and knew that he would do a good job.   I got in touch with him again to see if he was still interested and he was.   Okay, I'll give this a try.   Warren's comment about my having a strong arm might have turned the trick?

The next day I showed up at the track, dressed in my gym clothes and street shoes and started throwing the football with my baseball friend.   I wasn't there long when Coach Ellis spotted me.   He came over to where I was throwing.   He didn't have a smiling face.   "What are you doing out here?" I told him that I'd like to give throwing the football a try.   He grunted and with an edge of anger and impatience, responded, " Throwing the football takes a lot more work than just throwing.   You have to build up your legs as well.   To give you an idea, I want you to run a quarter-mile to see how much running you need to do".   He called across the field to a senior, "Les, come over here!" "Les, I want to time you in a 440.   Jamieson here, will run with you.   Both of you do the best you can".   .

I never considered myself a runner.   A runner was someone that could run fast—like at a picnic-day.   Usually a 50 or 100 yd.   dash.   I had never seen a track meet nor had I won a picnic-day race.

Years later, sometime during WWH, I visited the Ellis family in San Francisco, Coach Ellis confided that when he saw me out on the field that day he determined that would not have me on the track team.   I was a trouble maker that he could do without.   He said that it was not his intention to kick me off the team without cause but rather to run me until I got tired of it and would quit on my own.

Ellis started us off with a voice command.   I tucked in behind Les and followed him just off his shoulder for the first 220.   Not bad, I thought! Then I had a sudden, reckless impulse to throw away all caution, Hell, I run spurts like this on the paper route! I can still hear my heavy street shoes make a sort of plopping noise.   I finished far ahead of Les.   I was breathing hard and knew that I couldn't have run much farther.
Coach Ellis came over to where I was wobbly trying to recover, resting my hands on my knees, "I don't know what kind of baseball player you can be, but a look at this stop-watch tells me that if you are smart enough to listen to me and do what I tell you to do, you could be a damned good runner!"
Stop-watch time didn't mean much to me at that time but the passion with which Ellis spoke, convinced me to listen and do as he suggested.   It was truly a turning point in my life.   Ten days later, in my first track meet, I ran a winning and much easier 54 sec flat.

The season was almost over before I ran in my first inter-school competition.   It took 10 days before I could get eligibility clearance to compete.   Then I ran in two dual meets, winning easily in 440 and 880 yd.   doubles.   The times were not great but the competition was miserable.   The only real competition that I faced was when I ran in the Roseville Invitational meet.   Some 30 plus school were entered.   I received a 4th place ribbon in the half-mile run.   The time of 2:06 was a good time for a sophomore.

The first Saturday in May initiated the first of the Northern California Section (from Merced to the Oregon border) meets.   These 1935 C.I.   F.   Section elimination meets did just that.   It eliminated me.   No one timed me that day but I suspect that my time was faster than my Roseville Invitation effort.   Jerry Lopes ran under 2 minutes in winning.   I placed fourth but only 3 were qualified to continue onto the next sub-division meet.

My first year in track lasted only 5 weeks.   I wasted almost a month pushing the petition to retain baseball.   I wouldn't have admitted it then but I was pleased to have found this new activity.

That summer (1935) I worked as a header-tender on a grain harvester and was paid $3.00 a day, working for 30 days.   That was a lot of money and I went wild.   I bought my first suit before turning over the remainder to my father.   I regretted buying the suit ($ 15) when I later faced the question—just where would I wear it?
I continued doing the paper route at the same time I worked on the harvester.   This was possible because the harvester crew started at 8: AM and finished at 4: PM.   All of the other crewmen were dairy workers and had to be available for the evening milking.   I didn't mind doing the route later, and especially after swallowing the threshing dust earlier that morning.   After a shower, picking up the papers at 4: 30 PM and jogging over the route without dust, made delivering papers a pleasure.

I decided to prepare myself for running in this, my junior year (1935-36).   Baseball still held an interest for me but I began to notice articles about the on-coming Olympic Games that were to be held the next year in Berlin.   I read about Glen Cunningham and how he overcame being badly burned to eventually break the world record for the mile run.   Cunningham also held the national high school record in the mile run at 4:24.4 (made in 1929 or 1930.   My choices of heroes was beginning to shift.

Although Coach Ellis was busy coaching football, he always took time to stop and have a word with me.   It was on one of these chats that he first learned about my having had a paper route for the past four years.   I'm not certain that this disclosure had anything to do with Ellis telling me that there was going to be a big cross country meet held at Linden (Southeast of Stockton and about 25 miles from Galt).   He said, "You might like to run in it.   If you, let me know and I'll arrange my Saturday to see that you get there.   Might be a good idea if you ran a little to prepare for it." I said, "Sure, sounds like fun."

So, On a Saturday morning in mid-October, Coach Ellis came by the house and picked me up for the trip to Linden.   As he drove along, he explained that the race would start at 10 o'clock sharp, but we should arrive there earlier to go over the course before the start.   He explained that cross country race courses were not like the running on a standard quarter-mile track.   No two cross country courses were the same, so it was always a good idea to see what was the course was like ahead of time.

A cross country meet was a new thing for central valley schools, in fact, it was the first invitational cross country meet to be held in the Northern Section of California.   Coach Ellis was a native of Kansas where cross country was established as a fall sport for high school athletes for a number of years.

We arrived early and I had a chance to walk the course that we were to run over.   And that helped me somewhat, but I was not prepared to see over 100 other athletes gathered there to get ready to run in this one, gigantic race!

I was awestruck and in shock.   It took some time to get all of us lined up to start.   We all lined up in the middle of the football field, with chalk lines to direct us into a funnel-shaped opening that narrowed to the main course, the width of a road.   This was not like running on my paper route! I did not get off well at all.   My early concern was not to get crushed by the mass of runners where we entered the main funnel at the main course.   Some started out in a sprint and after 600 yards a few were no longer interested in running farther.   The full distance was 1.72 miles and most of the early sprinters were walking at the mile mark.   I finally awoke to the fact that I was in a footrace and moved up rapidly to pass runners on the final part of the course.   I finished fourth in a final sprint to the finish line.

Catalan of Stockton High won the race.   He had run a 4:48 mile during the previous track season.   Doug Busby ( Sacramento High) placed second.   Busby was to win 120 HH in the state meet at Gridley.   I don't recall who took third.

It took several weeks for me to recover from the impact of this event.   I decided that I would do some extra running on my own in what was left of the fall months.   I was covering the paper route and merely added distance by extending my regular route roads.

I gave up the paper route in mid-January, 1936.   Times had changed since I started on November 1, 1931.   Roosevelt brought in old-age pensions, Social Security, PWA, WPA, the New Deal, etc.   I no longer had to do the route as an act of survival.   True, I hated the route in those initial years, but over the entirety of the route's tenure it left me with a positive confidence.   I learned from the route not to be fearful of running longer distances at less than a fast pace.   Being on one's feet and jogging at an uninterrupted rhythmic pace wasn't all that difficult and more surprising, I began to enjoy such sessions.   The key words were time running on one's feet—not the distance of miles run!

When the 1936 track & field season opened in late March, I was ready for it.   Coach Ellis had just finished his basketball season and opened the season with a home meet.   He entered me in the mile run.   I had never been timed in a mile run but was aware that any time under 4:50 was respectable.   I ran that first mile in 4:45.   It was easy!


Galt High School's well known winning runner Jamie Jamieson. 

 Galt High School Warrior's well known winning runner Jamie Jamieson.


I was to be undefeated in the Northern California Section (a section that stretched from Merced to the Oregon border).   This meant that for some nine (9) races leading up the C.I.F.   State Meet.   I didn't have any competition and I sorely needed it.   I became what some refer to as a "hot-dogger" -a show-off, etc.   I would run with the pack for 3 laps and at the gun-lap, blitz the field with a 61-62 second last lap.   This was a display of rude arrogance.

I didn't know at the time that Coach Ellis was not going to be at Galt High School that next year, 1937, my senior year.   He had already signed a teaching contract with the San Francisco City Unified School District.   It was the goal of almost every teacher to land a teaching position with a large city school district.   It offered almost double the salary and the prospect of obtaining life-long tenure.

On the day of the state meet Ellis picked me up at the high school and the two of us headed north toward Gridley, the site of the 1936 C.I.F.   State Track Meet.

As we drove along, Coach Ellis commented on the past season and how well I had done.   He mentioned that of the 16 runners entered in the race I was to run in, nine runners had faster times than my best time.   "It's not likely that you'll be able to outrun the top runners from the Southern Section, the Los Angeles Section, the North Coast Section.   Some of the runners from those big city schools ran faster times than you have and place third to get to today's meet.   Remember this, most of these top runners are seniors and will not be around next year.   Next year will be easier for you with them gone.   It will be good experience for you, so just get in there and do the best you can."

Whether or not his intention was to take pressure off me, I don't know but the effect was to liberate me.   Where I was apprehensive as we drove earlier in the trip, I now looked forward to get to Gridley.

When we reached the Gridley High School track, the meet had already started.   We didn't have to be there until much later.   Coach Ellis ran into a coaching acquaintance and sat with him in the stands.   I wandered about watching the pole vault and high jump finals.   I saw Jerry Lopes of Auburn win the 880 yd run in a 1:57.1 time.   I knew Jerry because Auburn was in our Northern Section.

I walked past a knot of spectators gathered around a radio, intently listening to it.   I asked, "What's going on?" The answer, "That's KFBK's broadcasting this track meet." I was astounded! I didn't dream that they broadcast high school track meets.   I listened to the broadcast of the 440 yd.   run.   The sportscaster cited the runners with the best previous times before the race began and when the race started named the early leaders up to the finish.   It was exciting!

Then it struck me.   They were going to broadcast my race in the mile.   Well, how about that! I thought: I don't have a chance to win according to Coach Ellis, so why don't I just start out near the front, so the broadcaster will call out my name at the beginning.   Maybe someone back home at Galt may be listening and hear my name.   I became more and more excited the more I thought about it.   Then another thought hit me! There was this girl that I had a schoolboy crush on, being a shy type where girls were concerned, I never spoke ten words to this girl in the three years we were in school Maybe she'll be listening to this broadcast and hear my name?

I couldn't wait for the race to start.   The mile run was the next to last running event, just before the 880 yd.   relay.   Finally, the time came.   After the scratches, the runners that didn't show up, there were 12 entries in mile as we lined up for the start.   I was in lane 5 and at the starter's gun, I broke out faster than ever before.   I ran fast to clear the crowd at the first turn and found myself on the pole in second place, exactly where I wanted to be.
I counseled myself, stay right here as long as you can.   At the end of the first lap, I was about 7 yards behind the leader and I could hear heavy breathing and lots of footsteps just behind me.   Okay, just stay here and see what happens.

I kept my second place position for another lap....Good show! The lead is now 5 yards.   At 2 1/2 laps, I could no longer hear the breathing and footsteps behind me.   I was surprised that I was still there in 2nd place and yet even more surprised that I was not as tired as I thought I would be.   Anyway, I certainly accomplished my plan of having the radio broadcaster mention my name!

When I entered the backstretch of the last lap, I knew that the lead had narrowed to less than 5 yards As I passed the 220 yd.   mark on the backstretch, half a lap to the finish line, the lead narrowed a few more yards.   I was astonished that I was running as well as I was.   I was tired, but in a numbing sort of way.   I was so busy celebrating the fact that I was still in 2nd place that the thought of winning never entered my mind.

Now, at the middle of the last turn (110 yds.   from the finish line) I could sense that Simon (Scott) was coming back to me.   It wasn't that I sprinting but rather maintaining my same pace while Simon was fading a bit.
We finished the last 50 yards with Simon gradually losing his lead little by little but holding on to win by two feet.   He was timed in 4:31.2 and I was timed in 4:31.4 That race occurred over 60 years ago.   I have re-run that race over a thousand times since.

Galt High Warrior's runners set new records in track meet.

Jamie Jamieson sets another track record for the mile.

Coach Ellis consoled me on the way home.    I had run eleven seconds faster than my best previous mark.    I was a 16 year-old junior who wasn't supposed to run as well as I did.    I never did tell Coach Ellis about the radio broadcast.    I was going to tell him about it but decided not to when on the next Monday, when I returned to school and asked if anyone had heard the State Track Meet on the radio.    No one had.

I was to learn later that the radio station completed its broadcast of the State Meet and had switched to a regularly planned program at 4PM.    The mile run was run at 5:10 P.M.

1 have stated above that I have re-run that race a thousand times.    The "what-ifs" have had several variants.    If I had run the race differently, would I have won the race?  Would I have done better if I had not heard the KFBK broad cast?  Would I have won the race if I used my usual "sit and kick" tactics?

In those days, 60 plus years ago, most high school track and field coaches had a total training program lasting about 45 days.    There would be little or no fall training because cross country was practically non-existent.
Today, high school track and field practice usually starts with the new semester (Feb.   l).   Cross country usually starts with opening of the fall semester.   Most good high school distance runners keep training through the summer months.   Compare the totals of 60 years ago with today’s training numbers and you have an answer to the question, "Are today's kids as good as the kids of yore who didn't have automobiles and television?” Today's kids have better times and marks because they work harder, coupled with the fact that they take more time to train than their grandfathers did!

When I was 12 years old, I started delivering newspapers.   The route's total distance was 6 miles.   I did not have a bicycle so I had to walk, trot, jog, run, or hitch-hike.   An element of basic survival was involved so I had no choice.   But I did do It, I had that route for 4-1/2 years.   Consider the totality of these months of walking, trotting, jogging and just plain running.   By the time I was 16 years old I had acquired an out of the ordinary state of physical fitness.

I started with a negative attitude to the act of running and with the passage of time my attitude changed to positive.   The socio/economic (poverty/Depression) conditions had a strong influence on the resulting successes, so give them their due.   Had it not been for The Depression, I would not have been involved with delivering papers under such unrewarding conditions, but Necessity was involved!
I cannot pinpoint the exact time when my attitude to running changed from negative to positive.   Of course, it happened gradually.   One day, when I was going to high school, I became aware that I didn't mind running on the route.

Earlier, I stated that Coach Vern Ellis was an outstanding coach as well as a marvelous person and that I owed much to him.   However, after all of these years later, with apologies to the memory of Ellis, I now insist that my real "coach" was the paper route!

A Sacramento Bee article showing Galt's Jamie winning again.

Forrest Jamieson

By Michael Elsesser

 A Look at the Man - Forrest Jamieson

"The runner is much more than a point-producing, time-recording machine.  He's an artist, as much as a man who plays a violin or writes poetry.  The runner must be allowed to develop his running as an art form."

Forrest Jamieson, to Runner's World Magazine "Booklet of the Month" No.   3 September 1971

Within the pantheon of track and field coaching legends, probably the name least recognized today belongs to Forrest James "Jamie" Jamieson.   Long-time observers of the San Francisco running scene remember him as the "father" of local high school distance running, having founded the first Peninsula cross country team at Palo Alto (Paly) High in 1952.  However, his influence cuts a much broader swath throughout the pages of American recreational running.  To best appreciate Forrest Jamieson's impact, we shall return to his youth, to an era when the mile was the longest distance run in high school track programs and cross country teams challenged marching bands for halftime entertainment honors at Friday night football games

Born in 1919 in Bend, Oregon (coincidentally - or maybe not - a current hotbed of teenage running talent), Forrest moved with his family to the California Central Valley town of Galt (near Sacramento) in 1925.  Vast networks of criss-crossing country roads provided fertile running venues; Forrest would soon develop 55-second quarter-mile speed by running between telephone poles while delivering the Sacramento Bee newspaper on his childhood paper route.  After competing on Galt High's first cross country team in 1935, moving to the 880 yard and one mile "distance" events during the spring track season was natural - and highly successful, since his sit-and-kick tactics garnered a near-miss second-place finish in the mile run at the 1936 California High School State Track & Field Championships. 

It was during his prep track days that Forrest befriended a younger competitor from nearby rival Stockton High.  Many years later, editor and publisher Bert Nelson would profoundly influence the world of track and field.  **** Graduation from Galt in 1937 was followed by two successful years as a "do-everything" sprinter/middle-distance runner at Sacramento City College.  Forrest's versatility as a 50 second quarter miler/4:30 miler/10-flat two miler caught the attention of Franklin "Pitcher" Johnson, track coach at Drake University who was recruiting in Northern California while interviewing for the head coaching position at Stanford University (a job he was offered and did accept).  Johnson saw in Forrest the ideal relay specialist, a runner capable of handling relay legs from the 440 distance on up while scoring occasional points in the open 880 and mile.  Forrest accepted the track scholarship offer; off to Des Moines he went.

Through his participation on Drake's cross country team, Forrest became acutely aware of the popularity of this autumn sport throughout the Midwest and East Coast.  (Indeed, Bill Easton - who became Drake's head coach a year later - hailed from Indiana, a state long embracing of harrier talents.  Indiana University was twice AAU national champion in the 1930s, also winning NCAA Division I titles in 1938 and 1940.  Drake would later dominate collegiate cross country during the war years, winning NCAA championships in 1944-1945-1946.) Forrest also recognized the important carryover conditioning effects of fall turf running into the winter/spring track season, which became clearly evident in the spring of 1941 when he helped lead Drake to a relay circuit trifecta, winning the 4x880 relay at the Texas, Kansas and Drake Relays. 

Drake was a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.  Once a year, in early spring, each conference school would hold a dual track and field meet with a local non-conference school for the benefit of it's freshmen, who were ineligible to compete in all NCAA varsity sports at the time.  To determine the best freshman team in the conference, each school would mail ("post") the results of each freshmen meet to conference headquarters, which would then tabulate the results and announce the school rankings and best marks.  Years later these paper, or "postal" meets, provided the inspiration for Forrest's signature innovation as a distance running coach. 

Forrest met and married his wife Ruth while at Drake; he graduated in 1943 with his B.A.  in Liberal Arts/English.  

World War II beckoned; three years of naval service - first as an enlisted chief petty officer, later as a commissioned officer - took Forrest on tours of duty to New Caledonia, Okinawa, Pearl Harbor and other landmarks of wartime fame.  During this period, Forrest's running background found him serving his country as "Chief Athletic Specialist", responsible for maintaining the physical fitness and preparedness of his ships' crews. 

Putting ashore for good in 1946, Forrest enrolled in the San Diego State College (later University) teachers' accreditation program; he received his California teaching credentials a year later.  He served as an assistant coach on the track and field team during this period. 

Riding the initial shock wave of America's post-war economic boom, Forrest accepted his first teaching position at newly opened Chula Vista High School in San Diego County.  Here, in the fall of 1947, Forrest Jamieson launched his head coaching career by founding the school's (boys) cross country program. 

Cross country was not new to Southern California.  Contemporary records indicate that Southern Section championships (including San Diego County schools, which did not form their own section until 1960) date to 1926.  However, few multi-team invitationals were held, in part due to the paucity of high schools offering cross country as an interscholastic sport.  Rather, most races were dual meets, oftentimes scheduled to start and conclude on tracks during halftimes of football games. 

Effective? Probably.  Demeaning? Forrest certainly thought so, and set about to implement his own solution. 

It seemed logical to him that a regularly scheduled series of meets, held at a single racing venue central to all participating schools, was a more reasonable option.  Thus was born the "Center Meet", an invitational meet held two or three times each season, every year, offering each runner the opportunity to guage his progress over the span of his high school running career.  In the fall of 1948, following a year of promoting and browbeating, Chula Vista hosted its first Center Meet on the grounds of San Diego State College.  As the post-war economic boom accelerated, more schools opened and more cross country teams sprang forth; Forrest's Center Meets flourished.

Coach Jamieson returned to Northern California in 1950 intent on pursuing his Master's Degree at Stanford University, but found himself instead consigned to naval duties at to the onset of the Korean War.  Forrest returned home in late 1951 to resume his Stanford studies; by spring 1952 he was teaching and coaching track and field at nearby Palo Alto High School.  In autumn of that year, Paly had its first cross country team. 

Cross country on the San Francisco Peninsula was non-existant at that time.  Indeed, throughout the entire San Francisco Bay area, only Balboa, Poly (now closed) and Lowell of San Francisco, Lincoln and Tech of San Jose, Hayward, Bishop O'Dowd and El Cerrito in the East Bay, and Tamalpais in the North Bay are known to have offered the sport following the war.  Even Stanford University had no cross country team.  But it did have a beautiful, verdant, oak-studded golf course located midway between San Francisco and San Jose.  Just the perfect venue for a Center Meet. 

With the assistance of Jack Weiershauser, then head track and field coach at Stanford, Forrest convinced the University's administration to open its golf course each fall to the local high school harriers.  These Peninsula Center Meets grew in popularity to 1200 meet participants, eventually overwhelming the local golfing community which persuaded Stanford to kick the kids off their course following the 1963 season.  Fortunately, through the dedicated efforts of former Carlmont High coach Loren Lansberry and former College of San Mateo coach Bob Rush, a permanent home nestled in the Belmont foothills overlooking the Crystal Springs Reservoirs was secured, where the tradition of holding Center Meets on the last three Thursdays in October continues to this day over the rustic, sepentine trails of Crystal Springs International Cross Country Course. 

Stanford University, under new head track and field coach Payton Jordan, reinstated cross country as an intercollegiate sport in the fall of 1956.

The decade of the X50s proved kind to Forrest Jamieson and his thinclads at Paly.  Winning and record breaking continued unabated, each success breeding an ever-growing crucible of talented runners to continue the cycle.  Two mile, four mile and distance medley relay records and nation-leading times were the order of the day.  Paly's cross country teams were consistent North Coast Section champions, captained by a succession of elite harrier stars. 

Great coaches beget great athletes; Forrest's legacy will forever be linked to the career of Ron Larrieu, arguably America's first teenage distance running prodigy (predating Gerry Lindgren by a decade).  Ron Larrieu helped catapult Palo Alto's cross country team to national prominence while gaining personal glory as Northern California's Premier harrier throughout his junior and senior seasons.  However, Larrieu's defining prep moment occurred on the track in late March 1956 when - with virtually the entire San Francisco Bay area track community in attendance - he raced two miles in 9:39.3, breaking the national scholastic mark of 9:44.3 set 31 years earlier. 

That effort was true history in-the-making, as it represents a clearly defined launching point for recognition of the two mile run as a legitimate and necessary addition to high school track programs throughout the country.  Until then, distance running on all levels in the United States was so neglected that the 9:44.3 from 1925 was not even officially recognized in the high school record books.  Indeed, high school officials discontinued the two mile run in the early 1930s following a decision to lower the prep eligibility age limit from 20 to 19.  They believed the strain of running such a long distance was too much for a teenager to handle. 

This process for acceptance of the two mile run was fully realized by the 1970s, when elite high school boys broke 9 minutes on a seemingly routine basis. 

Ron Larrieu emerged in the early 1960s as one of the country's top distance specialists, ultimately representing the United States in the 10,000 meters at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.  In retrospect, Ron and (younger sister) Francine Larrieu were true pioneers, standard bearers for generations of American distance runners throughout the past four decades. 

Paly's wildly successful distance running program brought similar recognition to its coach.  The name Forrest Jamieson became synonymous with winning and records on the prep level.  He was respected nationwide by his peers as a builder of character as well as a molder of champions. 

Possibly the zenith of Forrest's first decade as coach occurred in June 1956 when Brutus Hamilton, Forrest's close friend and CAL Bears head track coach, chose him to chair the high school segment of the 1st International Track and Field Coaches Clinic held on the UC-Berkeley campus.  Financing from the US State Department helped fly in coaches from around the world, bringing international fame to all in attendance.  The original, unvarnished transcript of Forrest's presentation, "Cross Country for High School Coaches as I See It," a 15-page distillation of his administrative and coaching philosophies then extant, is included in this appendix. 

By the mid-1950s, head coach Bill Bowerman had built the University of Oregon cross country and track and field squads into national powerhouses.  Bowerman himself was gaining legendary status as a coach and technical innovator, constantly tinkering with running surfaces and new shoe designs. 

With Stanford's harrier program revived under Payton Jordon, Bowerman brought his team to the Stanford Golf Course in the fall of 1957 - and his first encounter with Forrest Jamieson.  Their lasting friendship would soon have profound implications on American recreational and competitive distance running. 

Hungarian runners, under internationally renowned coach Mihaly Igloi, were all the rage in 1955-1956, setting and resetting world distance records and winning major international races.  A move was afoot following the 1956 Hungarian uprising to bring Igloi to the United States (which eventually did occur) in an attempt to improve elite American distance running. 

Forrest Jamieson had a different idea.  If he could help runners such as Ron Larrieu develop world-class talent, why couldn't other high school coaches throughout the country do the same? Seeking to further develop American distance running talent at the grass roots level, while concurrently promoting interest and participation in the sport of cross country, Forrest began the process of organizing and promoting a nationwide series of "postal meets", two mile races run on tracks following the conclusion of the cross country season. 

This variation on postal track meets from his Drake years would determine an unofficial national high school cross country team champion: simply total up the times from the top five runners from each participating postal meet team; the team with the lowest aggregate time would be the winner.  Standardized track surfaces and the two mile distance would ensure the accuracy of this nationwide competition.  Coaches from around the country would mail or telex their team and individual times to a central reporting body; results would then be tabulated and announced soon afterwards. 

Forrest first approached SPORTS ILLUSTRATED - and was promptly sent packing.  A more sympathetic ear had to be found - and was, just a few miles away in the adjacent town of Los Altos.  There, Bert Nelson, Forrest's former high school rival, was editing a small, growing publication titled TRACK AND FIELD NEWS, a magazine he co-founded with his brother Cordner in 1948.  Nelson readily agreed to promote Forrest's postal meets.  Postal meet directors would mail results to TRACK AND FIELD NEWS, which would tally up the results and report the top teams and individuals in its January issues. 

Through this format, Forrest annually challenged the nation's top high school cross country teams to match the marks put up by his Paly squads.  With publicity offered through the magazine and the PALO ALTO TIMES newspaper, the first two mile postal race competitions were launched throughout the United States following the conclusion of the 1957 cross country season.  1957's national winner was Morningside of Inglewood, CA in 50:25.5 (10:05.1 per runner); Paly placed second in 51:14.2. 

Paly's John Northway took individual honors in 9:47.0.  Within a few years, nation-leading marks dropped significantly below 50 minutes (sub-10:00 two mile average for five runners).  Like the Center Meets, postal competitions exploded in quality and popularity, rivaling sectional and even state meets throughout the country for prominence as the "peak" meets of the year.  Eventually, schools competed in up to four postals yearly in an attempt to beat competing marks.  Even three mile postal races were run during the "boom" years of the late X60s and X70s.  Again, Forrest's instincts for promoting and nurturing young American distance talent had proven right on target. 

As the coup de' grace, California officials finally added the two mile run to the state track championship format in 1965.

By 1959, Forrest Jamieson had garnered a lifetime of achievements during his twelve years of coaching.  Seeking a change, and wishing to take advantage of travel and teaching opportunities abroad offered through the State Department, Forrest, Ruth and their three boys boarded the Pacific Orient Liner bound for the South Pacific.  This year-long sabbatical had been brewing for years, stirred not only by Forrest's interests in the region's youth fitness programs, but especially by the phenomenal performances of Australia's elite middle distance runners - Herb Elliot, John Landy, et.  Al.  - trained by mercurial coach Percy Cerruty. 

Before anchoring in Australia, the Pacific Orient berthed in New Zealand for the first two months of the journey.  While conducting coaching clinics throughout Kiwi land, Forrest received word of a shoe cobbler in Auckland, a former runner renowned throughout this island nation for his revolutionary coaching methods employed by the country's top distance runners.  Though their first meeting was a bit icy and restrained, Forrest's lifelong friendship had begun with Arthur Lydiard, mentor to Peter Snell, Murray Halberg and many others who would gain lasting fame a year later at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. 

Forrest was astounded to discover that, in this relatively small city of Auckland (population 600,000), on a geographically isolated chain of South Pacific islands, there resided a close-knit clan of some seven of the world's greatest distance runners, all living and training within a few miles of Lydiard's home.  Equally impressive were the Auckland-area citizens' "joggers clubs", encouraged and inspired by Lydiard to run 50-60 miles per week, just for the health of it. 

Forrest's fortuitous introduction to Arthur Lydiard, a man now judged to be one of the most influential figures in the history of distance running, would challenge and dramatically alter his approach to training American high schoolers.  Their meeting would ultimately usher in a golden new era in the annuals of American distance running. 

Arthur Lydiard was a show cobbler by trade.  In the 1950s, before Olympic glory allowed him to cash in on his name, being a shoe tradesman was his full-time profession. 

Forrest remembered good friend Bill Bowerman's show design tinkering after meeting coach/cobbler Lydiard.  Jamie wrote Bowerman, who corresponded with Lydiard throughout 1960.  In January 1961 Bowerman sent star miler Dyrol Burleson down to New Zealand to compete on the Kiwi summer track and field circuit and receive firsthand knowledge of the Lydiard training ssystem.  A year later, Bill Bowerman traveled to New Zealand to meet the now famous coach of gold medalists Peter Snell and Murray Halberg. 

Like Jamie, Bowerman was struck not only by Lydiard's revolutionary training methods, but by how certain of these concepts -specifically, slow running over long distances, or "jogging" - were being used every day by the local population.  Upon returning to the US, Bowerman promoted jogging as a health-enhancing exercise to the citizens in his hometown of Eugene.  To these track-mad fans, here was a way to vicariously experience the activity they loved as a sport.  Bowerman found himself preaching to the choir; in short order, people of all ages were jogging around the streets and trails of Eugene.  Bowerman then wrote Jogging, which described his ideas on slow distance fitness running.  The jogging craze in America had begun.

Oh yes, Bowerman's shoe tinkering.  It is unknown to this author exactly what advice Lydiard offered in regards to shoe design.  What is known is that many years later, Bowerman's outer sole "waffle" design led to the formation of a small enterprise known as Blue Ribbon Sports.  In time, the company changed its name to a certain goddess of Greek mythology; it no longer is a small enterprise. 

Following his sabbatical, Forrest returned to Palo Alto High School and resumed his coaching duties in the fall of 1960.  He remained Paly's coach through the spring of 1963. 

Forrest parlayed his contacts in the State Department to further international coaching assignments that continued throughout the 1970s.  Mexico, Papau New Guinea and New Zealand (several times) were interspersed with teaching and coaching positions at St.  Francis High/Mountain View, Pt Loma High/San Diego, Terman Junior High/Palo Alto, and a final stint as head coach at Palo Alto High in 1971-1973. 

The Jamieson family moved to the San Diego area in 1973, where until 1984 Forrest worked six months each year in an administrative position at the Del Mar Race Track.  He spent the other six months coaching high school and undertaking various state department assignments, usually in the South Pacific, frequently New Zealand where he had developed quite a following.  In 1984, 37 years after founding Chula Vista High's cross country program, Forrest put down the whistle for what he thought would be the last time.  In 1987, Forrest and Ruth Jamieson "retired" to the Central Valley town of Lodi, near his boyhood home in Galt.

However, by 1990, feeling an itch for coaching again that he just couldn't scratch away, Jamie signed on at Tokay High School in Lodi - but not as a distance coach.  Long aware of a camaraderie unique amongst pole vaulters, he volunteered his efforts as the school's new pole vault assistant.  A year later, with the opening of Bear Creek High School in north Stockton, Forrest accepted his last paid coaching position by starting, for the third time in his career, the school's cross country teams.  The somewhat sad and telling circumstances surrounding these two positions is retold in the following reprinting of an article on Jamie which appeared in the June 1991 publication of Joe Henderson's Running Commentary. 

To this day one can find Forrest Jamieson involved as ever, volunteering his efforts as a timer at high school cross country competitions and as a pole vault official at prep track and field meets throughout the S to ck ton-Lodi region of California. 

Technological innovations, changing population demographics, competition for talent from other sports, Title IX, different training methods: these factors and many others have dramatically altered the San Francisco Bay area running landscape since Forrest Jamieson blazed the first trails back in 1952.  The (belated) 1987 introduction of California's State High School Cross Country Championships, plus huge mid-season interstate invitationals and the continued success of the Kinney/Foot Locker National Championships begun in 1979, have conspired to relegate most postal meets to the pages of history; postals were, quite literally, victims of their own remarkable success.  Center Meets live on at Crystal Springs, though attracting only local entries as they compete for talent with the hugely popular Stanford and Mt SAC Invitationals and other meets drawing regional talent. 

Forrest Jamieson's singular goal was to improve both the status and quality of distance running in the United States by starting at the grass-roots level with the high school runner.  The explosion in popularity of cross country and two mile track racing in the 11960s and 1970s remains testament to his vision, resourcefulness and unflagging determination.  The popularity of jogging as a fitness exercise, medically verified in Dr.  Ken Cooper's 1968 best-seller Aerobics and by numerous other scientific studies before and since, can be traced to the 1959-1960 conjunction of Messrs.  Lydiard, Jamieson and Bowerman. 

In many ways, this retelling of Forrest Jamieson's career is the story of the post-war "modern era" of distance running in America. 

One minor but noteworthy item from the history books: it is recorded that Forrest Jamieson captured second place in the mile run at the 1936 California state championships.  His time of 4:31.5 established a new Galt High School record. 

Sixty years later, it still is. 

"I don't coach, I coax.  I don't demand.  I just try to persuade.  There's a difference."

This was scanned from a copy that was formatted incorrectly.   The paragraph breaks are as close to original as can be done.   A few spellings were corrected.

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This page was last edited: 07/27/2006 - copyright Galt Area Historical Society
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