Heritage

That guy, ready to tear a new butthole in the competition? My ancestor!

My granddad was always a great storyteller.  Having been a firefighter in Madison for 40 years and spending World War II instructing marine pilots, Keith Lawler faced his stiffest tests raising 10 children and drawing the occasional wrath of my Grandma Muggs.  He was never at a loss of words, even at 88 years old after he suffered a stroke and his wife passed.  By the time she was slipping into Alzheimer’s, I was 18 years old and carrying a voice recorder around with me.  One of my greatest regrets is that I never got stories from her, mostly because she was a remarkable woman but also in small part because I would really appreciate knowing all the bad things my mom had done when she was my age.  As for my Granddad, however, I have more than a fair share of stories, yet I don’t have a recording of the story of my great great grandfather’s brother, a runner named Archie Hahn.

The story goes, according to my Granddad, that Archie was billed the fastest man in the country.  At the state fair, he took on a race horse and won.  When you’re young, as I was nearly every time I heard the story, that’s the part that sticks with you.  I mean, he beat a horse.  I’m sure few people could be that fast back then.

At 23, my knowledge of sports and the appreciation for that feat has grown.  I take pride in knowing that, while I couldn’t beat a blind man at a staring contest, in my veins I hold the genes of one of the fastest runners of his time.

If you took away the chub, my body would look exactly like that.

Following the tie (ugh) Friday against New Mexico and the Bradley Tech football game, a couple friends and I hit up Major Goolsby’s for a late dinner.  On the way to my car, I decided to finally take a stroll through the Sports Walk of Fame located on 4th street against the U.S. Cellular Arena.  It’s a collection of plaques with faces on them and short biographies of all the inductees.  We were walking towards their car when the name caught my eye: “Archie Hahn.”

I took a hard left and found myself staring at a man who died 31 years before I was born, yet had a very familiar-looking face.  It was the short bio, however, that surprised me the most: gold medal, 100m dash in 1904 and 1906, as well as gold medal in 60m and 200m dash in 1904.  He also won Big Ten championships.

Yeah, that’s right, this guy has the blood of the Fastest Man in the World running through his veins.

Who cares if Archie Hahn ever beat a horse?  I mean, I’m psyched and everything, but the biggest event in the summer Olympics every four years is the 100m dash.  Usain Bolt is a household name because he is the Fastest Man in the World.  How cool is it that Bolt is the successor to my great-great-great uncle’s trophy?

Upon some research, I found that Archie ran for the Michigan Wolverines when he won those Big Ten titles.  Two things: I’m happy that all my Bucky-loving family can now be bitter because their ancestor wasn’t a Badger but a Michigan man, and I guess I give a damn for at least some part of the state of Michigan.

Hahn had the nickname “The Milwaukee Meteor,” which I’m now considering adopting because what doesn’t say speed about this guy?

Does it have anything to do with the Milwaukee Panthers?  Nope.  But I thought it was a cool story to share, the Milwaukee Meteor who went on to coach Virginia to 12 championships in 13 years and write the definitive book on sprinting, “How to sprint.”  No seriously, that’s the name of it.  Anyways, go family!

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