Alan Helffrich 

Alan B. Helffrich

The Charles Boone Helffrich Family of five boys lived in North Yonkers for 18 years where Alan attended School 16 and Yonkers High School and it was at Yonkers High School that a Sigma Pi fraternity brother, Haig Sarafian, encouraged him to participate in track He ran under Coach Gus Kirberger, winning the Westchester County 800 yard run as a junior and setting a County record of 52/ 3/5 seconds for the 440 yard run in his senior year. He graduated from the McBurney School in 1920 and gained his A.B. degree from Penn State in 1925.

He won the 880 yard run titles in the Junior Metropolitan AAU, the Middle Atlantic Interscholastic Championships, and the National Interscholastic Indoor Championships; anchored the Penn State two mile relay team to a world record at the Penn Relays in 1923 and was a member of the Penn State distance medley relay team that set a world record. In college he was coached by Nathaniel John Cortmell, one of the outstanding track tutors in the world.

Alan was National AAU Champion in the 880 yard run in 1921, 1922, 1925; NCAA champion in the 880 in 1922, 1923; IC4a 880 champion in 1923 and 440 champion in 1924. He was indoor world records holder at 660 yards and 800 meters in 1925, and 500 meters and 600 meters in 1926. When Poavo Nurini, the Flying Finn, came to the United States in 1925, he competed in 52 races. Alan Helffrich was the only American to defeat him, scoring a 1.56-4 victory in the 880 yard run at the Yonkers Stadium

Recognized as one of America’s greatest middle distance runners, Helffrich won the Millrose 600 yard run in New York City for five consecutive years. He was at one time the world’s indoor record holder at 500, 600 and 800 meters and at 600 yards; anchor man on the 1600 meter Olympic and world’s record holding relay team; national half mile champion and a member of the 1920 and 1924 Olympic teams.

Militarily, he served with the 9th Coast Defense Command in 1918-19. He has kept close affiliation with track in the United States, officiating at meets in New York City from 1930 to 1955. He has been a member of the N.Y. Athletic Club for more than 50 years and serves as president of the New York Chapter of the United States Olympians. He was a close friend of Charles Caldwell, who was the first athlete to be inducted into the Yonkers Sports Hall of Fame.


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