Along with Harry Downes, John McCracken was recognised as a world class mile athlete, and exhibition races between these two fine athletes drew crowds wherever they competed.

Born at Casterton on March 7, 1935, John showed great interest in athletics, and won a great many distance races during his education training around the State.

He met Carl Rhode, a famous Bendigo trainer and early in 1956 turned professional. His first stint at Stawell saw him win a half mile off 38 yards, in a smart time of 1.48.6 secs.

Following success at various meetings around the State, John married and while honeymooning at Stawell, won the Herb Hedemann Mile off 30 yards in 4-6.8 secs.

Success followed success, and in 1964, the two giants of distance running, Downes and McCracken met at Stawell, with McCracken running the fastest ever Mile from scratch, in a time of 4 min. 2.8 secs. In one of the most remarkable finishes ever seen at Stawell, the lead changed numerous times in a tight finish.

In nine events at Stawell from 1956 to 1969, John McCracken lowered his colours only twice in one and two mile events.