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Don Lash

Photo of Don Lash

Inducted: 1995, athlete

Born: August 15, 1914 - Bluffton, Indiana
Deceased: September 19, 1994

Events
2 mi. - 8:58
10,000 m - 31:06.90


One of the nation's top distance runners prior to World War II, Donald "Don" Lash won 12 national titles from 1934 to 1940, including seven in a row in cross country. This consistency prompted Sports Illustrated to call Lash "the first great American distance runner" and "possibly the best U.S. cross country runner ever." Lash's streak stood until Pat Porter broke it in 1989. Growing up in Auburn, Ind., Lash won the mile run at the 1933 state high school championship with a time of 4:30.5. At Indiana University, under Hall of Fame coach Billy Hayes, Lash finished third in his first cross country race. It was the last cross country race he ever lost. While a student at Indiana, Lash set an American record at 10,000 meters, clocking 31:06.9. Lash was still a collegian when he competed at the 1936 Olympics, placing 13th in the 5000m and 8th in the 10,000m. That summer he broke the legendary Paavo Nurmi's world record for the two mile, running 8:58.4. In 1938, Lash won the Sullivan Trophy as the nation's top amateur athlete. He was still winning national championships in 1940 but World War II snuffed out any chance for greater Olympic glory. After college, Lash worked for the Indiana State Police, then became an agent for the FBI. After retiring from law enforcement, he went into real estate.

Records Held
World Record: 2 mi. - 8:58
American Record: 10,000 m - 31:06.90

Championships
1936 Olympics: 5,000 m (13th)
1936 Olympics: 10,000 m (8th)

Education
high school: Auburn (Dekalb, Indiana), 1933
undergraduate: Indiana (Bloomington, Indiana), 1937

Occupations
Law enforcement
Real estate

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