August 15, 1912|
September 19, 1994
Terre Haute, Indiana
|Residence||Auburn, Indiana and Rockville, Indiana|
|Height||5'10" (178 cm)|
|Weight||154 lb (70 kg)|
World record 2 mi. - 8:58
American record: 10,000 m - 31:06.90
|College team||Indiana University|
|Don Lash from USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.|
|Don Lash from IU Hoosiers Hall of Fame, 1982 inductees.|
|Don Lash cartoon Cartoonist Frank Wykoff predicts an American long-distance win in the 1936 Olympics "if Lash sticks to one race."|
|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. 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.
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.
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.
Notes and references
- "Lash Tells Secret of Track Success," The Evening Star, Auburn, IN, August 10, 1937, p. 6, col. 1.
- Don Lash, The Iron Man from Indiana: the Don Lash Story, Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Co., 72 pages, 1999. ISBN 1-56311-493-3
- Official Memorial Website of Don Lash
- Find A Grave profile
- Men's Long-Course Champions
- USA Track & Field Hall of Fame: Don Lash
- Indiana University Hall of Fame: 1982 Inductees
- Lash Runs into History: News-SentinelFort Wayne, Indiana
- : 50 Greatest Indiana Sports Figures of the 20th CenturySports Illustrated