How Norman Harris Wrote “He Called on it All”

In our blog posting, “He Called On It All” – A Motivational Video for Track Athletes” I provided a video showing Dave Wottle’s dramatic come-from-behind finish in the 1972 Olympic 800 meter final. The video concludes with a quote by Norman Harris – a description of New Zealand miler Jack Lovelocks’s finishing kick to win the 1936 Olympic 1500m in Berlin.

“It came like electricity, it came from every fibre, from his fingertips to his toes.
“It came as broad waters come through a gorge.”.
He called on it all.”

After the blog was posted, Norman Harris, the writer of that dramatic passage, wrote me with a correction on the exact wording of his contribution that was, in fact, from his biography of Jack Lovelock titled, “The Legend of Lovelock” (1964).

In our subsequent discussions, Mr. Harris described some of the process and inspiration that allowed him to write those wonderful words – in my opinion, some of the most powerful in the history of running literature. I thought you’d be interested in reading about it.

The following comes from his memoir, “Beyond Cook’s Gardens (I don’t think it’s available in the US, although it may be available through Amazon, UK). I’ll let Norman Harris take over from here.

“I guess there was an element of inspiration in those words. I had been writing the book in a cafe in a Paris suburb, where I’d shared lodging with some cycling friends. In a recent Memoir, “Beyond Cook’s Gardens”, I recounted the romantic influences on the passage in question. It’s self-indulgent of me to quote it but, encouraged by what you said about getting the blood pulsing, I figured you might be interested

The Lovelock draft moved steadily towards its climax, a chapter titled The Ultimate, for which special inspiration was required. The portable typewriter in my room at the [Cafe] Zanzi was no longer good enough. I needed to go with exercise book and pencil to the Parc de St Cloud, where, near to a splendid fountain, I found a perch on a grand piece of white, marble-like statuary. It was there, with an apron of white, crushed stone surrounding my seat, and with the park’s heavenly grasses rippling in the breeze, and the late afternoon sun aglow, that I found the words to bring Lovelock home.”

I’ve attached the video one more time, for those of who missed it.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]physical education,Jack Lovelock,Norman Harris,track and field,800m,Dave Wottle, Nick Symmonds[/tags]

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