Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spencer wins Marathon Despite Rough Water

This is the final news article for this series of Great Salt Lake Marathon swims from the early days.  The exciting thing is that the trophy you see in this picture, will be displayed in person by Orson's son, Steve, next Saturday at the GSLOW event!  Here's the article from August 4th 1941, from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Spencer, second from left, receives trophy for winning Antelope island -
Black Rock beach swim.  Dr Munn Q. Cannon, of the A.A.U. swimming committee,
is on the left; James Latses, who presented the trophy is on Spencer's right...

Spencer Wins Marathon Despite Rough Water

Orson Spencer Monday had once again proven his right to claim the title of Utah's outstanding swimmer after conquering a grueling five-hour battle with mountainous waves to win the annual Antelope island-Black Rock beach swim.
Spencer, who was the only entrant to complete the grind, clambered ashore at the end of 5 hours 7 minutes and 22 seconds, one of the slowest times ever recorded in the swim.
Six swimmers started the race, but after the first hour the wind started kicking up huge whitecaps and it became only a question of finishing the race regardless of time.
 Ned Winder dropped out first and then Ed Watson, former champion, became sick and had to be taken from the water.  Ken Lyman pushed behind Spencer for most of the distance, but tired [of] the waves mounted and decided against continuing.
Perry Leavitt was taken from the water next and then big Wayne Christensen of Ogden got a mouthful of brine and was forced out.
Official[s] suggested that Spencer drop out, but he insisted on continuing on in and received the plaudits of some 500 fans who watched the finish.
Spencer received a trophy from James Latses of Black Rock beach for his victory.
Officials of the match were Dr. Munn Q. Cannon, chairman of the A.A.U. swimming committee; Denny Aushermann, Don Reddish, Rex Sutherland, John Neff, Ward Armstrong and Dr. Ralph Cornwall.

From the Press Box... by Jimmy Hodgson
Orson Spencer's victory in the grueling Great Salt lake swim Sunday was not only the hardest victory Orson has scored in his long and colorful paddling career, but one that brought him the most satisfaction.
The 30-year-old paddler was the victim of an automobile accident last year and spent some time in the hospital with a badly broken arm.  As a result of the mishap many critics were prone to count Spencer out of the Utah swimming picture.  But he proved them all wrong Sunday.  He's still king of the Utah paddlers and no question about it.
Spencer has been training for this swim for more than three months.  Ever since the first of May he has made it a point to swim at least one mile a day in fresh water.  There are few days that he hasn't covered the long grind.  His demanding conditioning drill put him in good shape Sunday.  No man could have covered that hazardous and storm-tossed course without having a world of stamina.  Orson well deserved the triumph.
Won at Pineview 
The only event that Spencer has taken part in since his accident was the Pineview dam swim at Ogden two weeks back--which he won.
The Pineview dam swim is a two-mile event, compared to 8.2 miles for the Great Salt lake event.  The salt marathon is apparently just a little bit too long and too hazardous, particularly in rough weather, to prove attractive to swimmers.  The race would be much more appealing and draw bigger fields over a shorter route.  Only the brave will enter the event now, and some of the paddlers who performed Sunday announced after the meet they would never compete again.  A shorter course would take nothing away from the event and it would add much to it by assuring more interesting fields.

Ward Armstrong of Ogden, who helps promote the Pineview race, figures that the Junction City race will soon be the No. 1 marathon swim feature in the state.  "Spectators can see the entire course from start to finish.  It's a natural spot for a race.  The event gets better every year." he commented on Sunday.
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