Don Lash
Personal information
Nationality United States
Born(1912-08-15)August 15, 1912
Bluffton, Indiana
DiedSeptember 19, 1994(1994-09-19) (aged 82)
Terre Haute, Indiana
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight154 lb (70 kg)
Event(s)World record 2 mi. - 8:58
American record: 10,000 m - 31:06.90
College teamIndiana University
External images
image icon Don Lash from USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.
image icon Don Lash from IU Hoosiers Hall of Fame, 1982 inductees.
image icon Don Lash cartoon Cartoonist Frank Wykoff predicts an American long-distance win in the 1936 Olympics "if Lash sticks to one race."
image icon Don Lash at Indiana University, 1934, Indiana State Museum Collection.

Donald Ray Lash (August 15, 1912 – September 19, 1994) was an American long-distance runner who won 12 national titles from 1934 to 1940, including seven consecutive men's national cross-country championships, and who set a world's record for the two-mile run in 1936.

Born in Bluffton, Indiana, Lash grew up in Auburn, Indiana, where he graduated from high school in 1933 after setting a new Indiana state record of 4:30.5 for the indoor mile and 4:23.7 for the outdoor mile. As a student at Indiana University, Lash set an American record of 31:06.9 for 10,000 meters. In June 1936, he broke Paavo Nurmi's world record for the two mile, running 8:58.4, besting Nurmi's record by 1.2 seconds. Competing in the 1936 Summer Olympics, he placed 13th in the 5,000-meter run and eighth in the 10,000-meter.

In 1938, Lash set a meet record of 14 min., 39 sec., for 5,000 meters at the Amateur Athletic Union indoor national championships. That same year he won the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete.

Lash attributed his endurance to his unusual ability to store oxygen in his system. Speaking to a meeting in Auburn in 1937, Lash said that he knew when he would win a race by having a blood count before running.[1] Research done at the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory published in Science in 1937 found when running Lash had an oxygen intake of 5.35 L/min and commented, "This far exceeds previous records".[2]

World War II precluded any further chance for Lash to compete in the Olympics. Having married Margaret Mendenhall in 1938, Lash began a law-enforcement career with the Indiana State Police, then became an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1941. He retired from the FBI in 1962 to become a regional director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and appeared frequently as a motivational speaker.

In 1973, he opened a real estate business in Rockville, Indiana. He also was elected to five terms (1973–1982) as a Republican member of the Indiana State House of Representatives, serving Fountain, Montgomery and Parke counties.[3][4]

Lash died of spinal cancer at a hospital in Terre Haute, Indiana, and is buried in Rush Creek Cemetery near Tangier in Parke County. Don and Margaret Lash had two sons and a daughter.

Don Lash Park in Auburn is named for him. Lash was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1995.

Lash's autobiography, The Iron Man from Indiana: the Don Lash Story, was published in 1999.[5]

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Lash Tells Secret of Track Success," The Evening Star, Auburn, IN, August 10, 1937, p. 6, col. 1.
  2. ^ Robinson, S.; Edwards, H. T.; Dill, D. B. (April 23, 1937). "New Records in Human Power". Science. 85 (2208): 409–410. doi:10.1126/science.85.2208.409. ISSN 0036-8075.
  3. ^ "Indiana Politicians by Letter". March 6, 2015.
  4. ^!/legislator/4665/Donald-Lash Archived December 3, 2019, at the Wayback Machine [bare URL]
  5. ^ Don Lash, The Iron Man from Indiana: the Don Lash Story, Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Co., 72 pages, 1999. ISBN 1-56311-493-3
Indiana House of Representatives Preceded byGary Lee ButlerEdward Earl Goble Member of the Indiana House of Representativesfrom the 32nd district 1972–1982 Succeeded byJeff Espich