Excerpt from an email dated 28 April 2013 from John Mason's wife (my Aunt) Juanita Mason:
I thought that you would be interested to know that my husband, John Mason, during the weekend of April 19 through 21st was involved in testing for elite distance runners held in Mesa, Arizona, under the direction of Jack Tupper Daniels, PhD, author of numerous books on distance running and coaching and named the "Outstanding Distance Runners' Coach of the 20th Century" by the NCAA Cross Country Coaches' Association and he was declared the "World's Best Coach" by "Runners' World" magazine.
Back in 1967, when the nation was preparing for the 1968 Olympics, which were to be held in Mexico City - altitude over one mile high, the U.S. Track and Field world looked to Dr. Jack Daniels, who had done extensive research on the effects of high altitude on training and
competition. In 1967 he held the first high altitude training camp for America's most elite distance runners. The top 25 distance runners in the United States who specialized in events from the 1500 meters through 10,000 meters were gathered in Alamosa, Colorado for extensive altitude training combined with medical testing to find the effects that training at altitude had on these great runners. In 1968 with federal, state and U.S. Olympic Committee funding a six week training camp was held again at high altitude Alamosa prior to the Olympic Track and Field Trials which were to be held at high altitude at South Lake Tahoe, California.
The test subjects included Jim Ryun, world record holder mile and 1,500 and Silver Medalist at the 1968 Olympics; George Young, Bronze Medalist at the 1968 Olympics; Bob Schul, Olympic Champion at 5,000 meters in the 1960 Olympics; And many other National Champions and National and World record holders.
Here's an old photo of John Mason undergoing testing of oxygen use efficiency in 1968 at the South Lake Tahoe track used for the Olympic trials. John has his nose plugged and is breathing through his mouth into a tube supplying oxygen while running. His exhale gases are being gathered in the inflated black bags for further analysis. On the right side of the car hood is Dr. Jack Daniels. On the left side of the hood is Tom Von Ruden, assisting. Von Ruden was great runner from Oklahoma State University and a U.S. National record holder and World record holder.
John Mason, a sub-four minute miler from Phillipsburg, Kansas (3:57 mile, 3:39 1500 meters), who ran for Phillipsburg High School, Fort Hays State University and then for the prestigious Pacific Coast Club in California, was chosen to participate in both of those training camps in preparation for the 1968 Olympics. John held many National Championships in Track and Cross Country and has been member of many U.S.A. National Track Teams representing the United States in many international competitions in Great Britain, all over Europe, in the U.S.S.R., and all over Asia. John Mason was inducted into the Kansas State Hall of Fame for Sports in 2009.
After the Altitude Training was done in 1968, John flew to Europe to run the 1500 in the World Games, Representing the United States. The meet was held in the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm, Sweden, where John Mason beat Kip Keino of Kenya who was shortly to become Olympic Champion by beating Silver Medalist, Jim Ryun.
John Got very sick upon his return from Europe and was unable to compete well at the Olympic Trials right out of the hospital and so could not make the 1968 Olympic team. In 1993 Dr. Jack Daniels again got that group together for extensive testing to find out what was left of those great 25 runners after 25 years had passed. That information gathered must have proved very valuable to the scientists because we were surprised the beginning of March of this year. Dr. Jack Daniels called John at home in Phillipsburg to ask him to participate in the longest term study of elite runners ever made with a reunion of those test subjects 45 years after their initial testing.
John worried about getting into shape - after all he was going to be facing those same guys that he ran against in college and on all of the world's great tracks. I told him not to worry so much, because they would all be about as old as he was - with a span of five or six years - and besides he already had three of them beat just by still being alive! Most all of the testing was done on stationary bicycles this time because of wear and tear of running on old joints.
This photo shows John Mason undergoing medical testing in 2013 on oxygen use efficiency. Looking on is Dr. Harris, one of the medical team and a technician. The results of all of this testing over time may find just what is different about great distance runners from the rest of the population at large. (I suggest the main difference may actually be in their brains?) Please notice that his feet are just a blur - I understand that he did very well in his fitness tests!