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The Long Distance Log

Introduction by Tom Osler

In June 1953, Austin Scott of the New York Pioneer Club began circulating a self made publication he called the Distance Running Journal.  It was mimeographed on 8.5 by 14 inch paper and each issue was about 12 pages.  It contained race results, schedules of races and other items of interest to long distance runners.  A one year subscription was $3.00.  Sadly Scott died one week after finishing fourth in the 6 Mile Race of the 1954 National AAU Track and Field Championships in St. Louis, MO on a terribly hot night.

Browning Ross, member of the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Teams in the steeplechase and many times National Champion at all distances from 10 to 30 kilometers. was the founder of the Long Distance Log. The Log was a successor to Scott's Distance Running Journal and initially had the same physical appearance. It was a monthly publication that carried the complete results of nearly every road race held in the USA as well as some track races and important international races. In addition it carried editorials by Ross, letters to the editor, minutes of the RRCA as well as RRC chapters, relevant magazine articles and other items of interest to long distance runners. The Log first appeared in 1956 and ended in 1975.

The Log was a one man production. Ross typed all the pages. Sometimes he glued articles from news papers and magazines to his master copy. When finished at 28 pages he delivered the master to a local printer who then made about 300 copies. Ross then addressed these copies by hand to his subscribers. In the years 1956 to about 1970, long distance running had very few, but very enthusiastic  participants. Readers of the Log often immediately devoured every word on its arrival.  In spite of this, the Log never made a profit for Ross, but remained a labor of love.

In the Fall of 1957 Browning Ross founded the first chapter of the Road Runners Club in Philadelphia. It became the Middle Atlantic RRC. In February of 1958 the national version of this club was started and called the Road Runners Club of America. It's purpose was to promote long distance running, which was so small at the time that well less than 300 Americans could run a marathon.  The club was based on the existing British model of the same name.

The Osler Collection:

Tom Osler now has a complete collection of the Long Distance Log. Of the nearly 240 issues that appeared over 20 years, only 9 issues were originally missing. To complete the collection, 7  Xerox copies were made from the collection of Gary Corbitt. These are

Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1956       
Vol. 1, No. 2, February 1956       
Vol. 1, No. 3, March 1956       
Vol. 1, No. 4, April 1956       
Vol. 1, No, 5, May, 1956       
Vol. 1, No. 7, July 1956       
Vol. 18, No. 208, April 1973       

The following two issues were donated by Barry Ross:

Vol. 17, No. 203, November 1972    
Vol. 21, No. 231-232, March-April 1975 (single issue)    

In addition, both Osler and Corbitt have the same four issues of  Austin Scott's original Distance Running Journal. They are the July, August, September and October of 1953  issues (Numbers 2 to 5).

The three phases of the Long Distance Log:

The 20 year history of the Long Distance Log saw its appearance go through three phases:

Phase 1:  Large Mimeographed Sheets
Vol. 1, No. 1 January 1956 to Vol. 3, No. 4, April 1958

The initial issues of the Log were printed by mimeograph on paper size 8.5 by 14 inches. Ross  was a high school teacher at the time, and sometimes they were printed on the backs of discarded student tests.  A total of 28 issues appeared in this phase.

In the Osler collection, the Phase 1 issues are the most delicate. Often the print is light and a bit hard to read. The paper is easily torn and needs to be handled with care.

Phase 2: Small Magazine Format
Vol. 3. No. 5, May 1958 to Vol. 13, No. 145, January 1968

Starting with Vol. 3. No. 5, May 1958, the Log began to appear as a 28 page small magazine size 6 by 7.5 inches. Now the Log could contain pictures. The Log continued this format until the last issue of Phase 2, Vol. 13, No. 145, January 1968.

In the Osler collection Phase 2 is in rather good condition. The cover of each issue is annotated by hand with reference to Osler's personal races, and these are also annotated inside.

Phase 3: Large Magazine format 
Vol. 14, No. 163, July 1969 to Vol. 21, No. 239-240, November-December 1975.

In the summer of 1967, Tom Osler wrote a small booklet he called The Conditioning of Distance Runner's. In appearance it was about the same size as a Phase 2 issue of the Log. 1000 copies were printed at cost ($100) and Ross sold them through the Log for one dollar each. This enabled him to recover his dept from past issues and he could now afford to have the Log printed in a large 8.5 by 11 inch format. The first such larger issue appeared in Vol. 13, No. 146, February 1968.

Starting with Vol. 14, No. 163, July 1969. the United States Track and Field Federation (USTFF) began to assistant Ross with the burden of printing and distributing the Log. Starting with this issue the Log now had a colored cover and the words Official Publication of the United  States Track and Field Federation appeared at the top.

The running boom was about to begin. The Boston Marathon went from 156 starters in 1960 to 1173 in 1970. (There were only 83 finishers in 1960, and the officials stopped counting after about 3:30!) During the decade of the 60s, things changed dramatically. Bill Bowerman's first book on jogging appeared (at least 300,000 copies sold). Hal Higdon's 1964 article on the Boston Marathon (On the Run from Dogs and People) excited many to take up the sport. The founding of Distance Running News, eventually to become Runner's World and  Cooper's huge best-seller, Aerobics all had a part in the explosion of participation that took place in the late 1960's. All of the above stood on Ross's shoulders.

Soon the volume of entrants made it impossible to cover every race in this country in a 28 page monthly publication. The RRCA that Ross had created was ready to embrace these runners and make events available for their needs, but the Log would now die, partly a victim of it's founder's RRC creation.

Starting  with Vol. 20, No. 225-226,  September-October 1974 the Log began to appear every two months, rather than monthly. The final issue was Vol. 21, No. 239-240, November-December 1975.