Home A Column By Len Johnson

A Column By Len Johnson

Len Johnson wrote for The Melbourne Age as an athletics writer for over 20 years, covering five Olympics, 10 world championships and five Commonwealth Games.

He has been the long-time lead columnist on RT and is one of the world’s most respected athletic writers.

He is also a former national class distance runner (2.19.32 marathon) and trained with Chris Wardlaw and Robert de Castella among other running legends. He is the author of The Landy Era.

By Len Johnson - Runner's Tribe Herb Elliott didn’t lose too often. Never, in his junior and senior career over his specialty, 1500 metres and the mile. There might have been a mile in his schoolboy days at Perth’s Aquinas College he lost to a schoolmate three years his senior. But...
Written by Len Johnson - (c) Runner's Tribe We haven’t become so blasé as to not welcome a sub-13 5000 metres. Not to mention two performances behind of 13:00-point. That being the case, let’s say “WOW! WOW! wow” about the performances of William ‘Woody’ Kincaid, Lopez Lomong and Matt Centrowitz in...
A column by Len Johnson - Runner's Tribe I’m not really a road trip sort of bloke. Unlike Willy Nelson, I can wait to get on the road again. The then almost-obligatory campervan trek around Europe 40 years ago excepted, I’ve rarely travelled, by road, more than one day at a...
  Winston Churchill once famously characterised Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” It hasn’t become any simpler a riddle, any less shrouded in mystery, nor less of an enigma in the time since. I’m not thinking as broadly as Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, but more specifically...
A Column By Len Johnson In announcing her retirement this week, Alana Boyd got the timing just right. Timing is everything in Boyd’s event, the pole vault. It is no good having the height before the crossbar, no good having it after. For a clearance, you must have the height at...
Catriona Bisset has broken the Australian record for 800 metres. On Sunday, 21 July, at the Muller Games Diamond League in London’s Olympic stadium (and West Ham United’s home ground), Bisset finished second to Lynsey Sharp in one minute 58.78 seconds, slicing 0.22 off Charlene Rendina’s long-standing national record. Had this...
Len Johnson - Runner's Tribe One of the beneficiaries of the decision to compete in Moscow was Rob de Castella, who made his first of four Olympic teams in the marathon. ‘Deek’ finished tenth in the marathon in Moscow, his first experience of the surging sort of running required to win...
By Len Johnson - Runner's Tribe Watching one of the post-world championship Diamond Leagues, something jarred in the commentary. Specifically, it was the introduction to the sprint fields. At one meeting – the Birmingham IDL, I think it was – the announcer kept referring to the competitors as “gold medallists”. Seeing...
A Column by Len Johnson – Runner’s Tribe  When someone refers to a cat-and-mouse struggle, there is usually only one possible outcome (spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for the mouse). Especially when it is a marathon, and the ‘cats’ in question are Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenenisa Bekele, both with claims...
You don’t have to dive deep into Australian world cross-country history to find yourself immersed in a stream of Steve Moneghetti statistics. From his first appearance in 1985 to his last in 2004, Moneghetti was the dominant force in our men’s teams. Had the story of Australian participation been written...