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Cunningham Ends Career at Kansas Relays


In January 1940, Glenn Cunningham announced over the radio that the 1940 track season would be his last. He had “continued in competition (for the) past two years,” he asserted, “with the hope of trying for (his) third successive Olympic team” However, the onset of World War II had “made the holding of the games impossible,” and the man long known as the “Kansas Flyer” had decided to hang up his cleats.

The thirty-year old Elkhart, Kansas native and KU graduate had insinuated that he might retire for a number of years prior to his January proclamation, so no one knew how seriously to take it. As the 1940 season wore on, however, it became apparent that the man who had been the world’s greatest middle-distance runner for the past decade had, in fact, finally resolved to end his athletic career.

A headline in the March 19, 1940 edition of the Kansas City Journal bluntly declared “Cunningham Is Sincere About Quitting.” The accompanying article suggested the Kansas Relays of that year would likely represent his final competition. The cinder track of KU’s Memorial Stadium, which had seen Cunningham burst into the national limelight eight years earlier, would thus host his finale.

Read more about Cunningham and his career.

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