Looking at the results and photos from Carmel’s terrific coverage of the National Masters Outdoor Championships, I can’t help thinking how the standards of masters track and field is closing in on the standards of the elite open competitions.
I watched a masters race with top collegiate runner Tim Ritchie, assistant track coach at Boston College and former captain of Boston College’s team, and he was amazed at the speed of the top masters. The World or American Records set by women like Sabra Harvey (W60, World Record, 1500), Mary Harada (W75, American Record, 1500 — she had just set a World Record, W75, in the mile a few weeks before), Lisa Valle (W40, World Record, 2K Steeplechase), Cheryl Bellaire (W50, American Record, 2K Steeplechase), and Suzi MacLeod (W75, World Record, 400) are proof that masters track and field is sizzling with increasing talent.
The latest coup for older masters women is evident in Sports Illustrated, usually the world of open male athletes like Tom Brady and Michael Jordan….. Check out the next issue of SI, the Aug. 2nd issue. Mary Harada, 75, is featured in “Faces in the Crowd”.
Way to go masters women. We’re keeping up with the men.
Suzi MacLeod (W75) sizzled on the track, matching Sacramento’s heat with her own hot performances. On Friday Suzi broke the World Record in the W75 400m with her time of 1:25.40. Today she set an American Record in the 800m with 3:25.73. Suzi ran a solo effort with W70 winner Jeanne Daprano out in front in the same race. Jeanne won in 3:09.35.
Suzi’s 400m World Record was even more impressive when you learn that she has only run this race four times. Suzi’s coach told her that if she wanted to improve her 800m times she needed to add the 400m to her racing repertoire. Suzie told me, “I hate the 400m but it was perfectly set up for me as I had Audrey Lary on my outside”. Audrey was second in 1:28.74 and is the former American record holder in the event.
In other 800m results Sabra Harvey (W61) was just shy of the W60 World Record with her 2:35.11. In W55 Kathy Martin and Coreen Steinbach had a good battle with Kathy winning in 2:40.23 to Coreen’s 2:43.94. Early in the day Kathy had won the 10,000 in 40:07.59.
Many of us were looking forward to the W50 race between the distance diva Carmen Ayala-Troncoso and the fast finishing Cheryl Bellaire. Cheryl had won the steeple and 400m the previous day. Carmen set the early pace and made sure she was well clear of Cheryl’s kick. Carmen won in 2:29.38 to Cheryl’s 2:36.30.
After her World Record in the 2K steeple on Friday, Lisa Valle wasn’t a definite to race the 800m. But her training and ability to recover shone through when she flew in the W40 800m to win in 2:17.87. Charmaine Roberts showed her 400m form to out kick Christine Olen, 2:21.65 to 2:22.23. Christine told me that her time was an old woman (W40) personal record, way to go Christine.
In W45 Club Northwest teammates finished one, two. Karen Steen won in 2:26.98 with Sarah Smith second in 2:29.59 and Sinead Thornton third with her 2:31.98.
Friends Joanna Harper (L) and Suzi Macleod (R)
In all my years of running rarely have I liked any photos of me in action. Maybe I’m just vain. But my hair is usually wild, my face red and sweaty with a grimace. My brother-in-law Andy says I look determined. Hah!
I’ve seen other women with their makeup intact, their hair perfect and serene expressions. I wish! How do they do it?
So I could relate when Suzi MacLeod shot me an email lamenting the photos I used on her page. “Ken Stone has got to get some better shots of me! Looking at them, I laughed so hard I woke up the 5 dogs who were taking a nap.”
Liz Palmer recently sent me this photo of herself from the 2008 National Masters Champs. It’s after the 100m, which Joy Upshaw Margerum won; Liz got the silver and Jai Black the bronze. As Liz says, “I used to hate this picture until my husband said it was one of his favorites.” I’m with Gary, it’s a great shot of you Liz (and the other girls).
Hey Suzi you’re a good sport as well as a champ. Hopefully we can track down some better shots. But woman when you run that fast and break world records you look just fine to me.
Liz with Joy and Jai at 2008 Masters T&F Champs
I met Joanna Harper at the 2009 USATF Masters Champs. I was at the track early Sunday to watch the 1500′s. I’ve always loved the 1500, that combo of strength and speed. For me it’s the track “glamor” event. But of course I would say that being a distance girl.
Joanna flew home that morning in the W50 1500m to get the silver medal. It was a great finish so I rushed over to introduce myself and congratulate her. We’ve been email buddies ever since.
Like me Joanna has discovered that masters competition is all about the wonderful people you meet. Joanna has written a piece for WomenRunningTogether on meeting W75 champ Suzi MacLeod. Check it out here.
Over on Pete Magill’s website Joanna is blogging about Gender, Sports and Caster. Joanna’s views are an insightful perspective but without the hype or malice that’s unfortunately part of the blogosphere. Gender testing is an important issue for womens running and sport. We need more thoughtful analysis like Joanna’s.