By Horace Ashenfelter, Grandson Bill Ashenfelter, and Curt Stone

Horace Ashenfelter III (born January 23, 1923) is a retired American athlete. He competed in international athletics from 1947 to 1956 after service in World War II and the completion of his degree at Penn State, where he was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity. Ashenfelter was born in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. During his career he won fifteen national AAU titles and three collegiate national titles.

Although he was considered a long shot, Ashenfelter was the surprise winner of the steeplechase at the 1952 Summer Olympics at Helsinki. He finished ahead of Vladimir Kazantsev of the USSR and John Disley of Great Britain, and broke Kazantsev's unofficial world record (the IAAF did not accept official records in the steeplechase until 1954) in the process. Since Ashenfelter worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it led to humorous comments about him being the first American spy who allowed himself to be chased by a Russian. In addition, Ashenfelter won the Sullivan Award as outstanding amateur athlete for the year 1952.

Ashenfelter won the Millrose Games two-mile run from 1952 to 1955 and again in 1957. His best winning time was in 1954 at 8:53.3. He was inducted into the Millrose Games Hall of Fame in 2001 as a five-time champion.


As of 2015, Ashenfelter lives in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, where the Ashenfelter 8k Classic is held annually in his honor. He was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey in 1998. The indoor track facility at his alma mater, Penn State, is named in his honor.


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