Last year, just before Olathe nationals, I visited my alma mater KU and stopped by Watson Library. I went up to a random librarian and said: “I have to apologize for tearing out a piece of Life magazine in the mid-70s.” I ripped out a quote: “Hurdling is good training for a writer.” The counter guy just looked at me like: Whatever. Now I think writing is good training for a sprinter. Hall of Famer Steve Robbins, the world champ and WR man, has shared a wonderful 3,400-word treatise he wrote three years ago. (He shared it with me after reading Wayne Bennett’s sprint advice.) Too much to summarize in Steve’s version, but I really like his truth-telling: “The ‘magic’ bullets, if you can call them that, are having the right parents and hard training. When a world-class masters athlete tells you he or she takes some supplement and how terrific it is, the fact is that theyâ€™d probably be just as good without the supplement. There are, unfortunately, no shortcuts to top performances.” Steve should write a book on masters speed, adding to his collection of biz manuals.
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Bill Melville had a gut â€” and guts. He ran faster than anyone with a beer belly had a right to do. So I was saddened to learn from Peter Taylor that Bill died Monday of kidney and lung cancer. Peter says he got the news from Bill’s wife, Goldie Melville. “Bill was 87 and resided in Platteville, Wisconsin,” Peter wrote. “The ‘Big Train,’ as I liked to call him, was quite a rumbler on the track and took down more than his share of gold medals. As you may recall, in Riccione (world outdoors) in 2007, Bill stampeded to victory in both the 100 (15.33) and 200 (32.08).Â This, of course, was in the M80 division. Eight years earlier, in Orlando, Bill won both the 100 (13.34) and 200 (28.48) to win the gold at nationals. He was 72 at the time.”
I don’t write enough about the best name in masters track: M95 Champion Goldy Sr. But his local paper did me a favor with this great profile. We learn some interesting things about Champ, 97, a member of the M90 relay teams that set WRs at North Carolina nationals. For example: “I’d like to run in the Penn Relays when I’m 100,” he said. “I could never beat anybody at that age, but I did beat a guy who was 85 years old a couple of times.” And: “The crazy thing is, if I had some coaching, I might have been another Carl Lewis. As a 14-year-old, they tell me I did the 100 in 10.2, and that’s pretty fast.” He’s still plenty fast. See you at Penn!
A couple weeks ago, M75 sprinter Wayne Bennett sent me a paper he wrote, saying that coaches who say “run yourself silly and then run some more” is bad advice, especially for masters. “This just tears up the body and tires it out,” Wayne writes from Texas. So he attached a short paper he once wrote and says he believes it really works. He begins: “One of the things that I have noticed is that a lot of sprinters donâ€™t really know what to concentrate on in their training. Too many of them rely on what they remember from high school and college days. All too often that training was faulty.”
M60 Oscar Peyton wasn’t boasting. He was just matter-of-fact talking about his never-realized potential as an open sprinter. Our frequent national sprint champ â€” who beats Bill Collins on rare occasions â€” was being featured in a local TV segment. He notes that he didn’t run track till his 50s. So his guess on his elite/open speed is as good as anyone’s. Gotta love the big guy (6-foot-4) comparing himself to the Jamaican legend.
Newsday is a big-time news outlet for NYC suburbanites, and this week it profiled several women of the Bohemia TC, including stars Caryl Senn-Griffiths and Mary Trotto, who does everything under the sun. The video is priceless. The story is worth checking out as well. A highlight: “Come and try something. Try anything. You’ll love it,” said Sue Nesbihal, 65, a retired Nassau County probation officer from Islip Terrace. “You don’t have to be great at it. You don’t have to be good at it. If you throw 30 meters in the javelin, people are going to cheer for you. But if you go out there â€” and it’s your first time â€” and you throw 10 meters, people cheer for you.”
Yes, you can. That’s the message of masters track to many of us. Yes, you can go back to your track star youth. And Wendy Alexis got the message big time in her late 50s. As Martin Cleary writes in a wonderful Ottawa Citizen profile: “After double leg surgery, a doctor said she would never run again. Alexis, however, tried for five years, but never reached a finish line. A career as a teacher was easier on her health. ‘I loved taking my son to practice,’ Alexis, 59, said. ‘Weâ€™d talk track and heâ€™d say there are old people (training) at the track. My life was just so crazy. Teaching sucks you in.’ Track and field has the same effect. ‘I couldnâ€™t sleep that night (after her first masters practice). Part of me lives for the track because I didnâ€™t finish what I had started.’ ”
In his last missive from masters nationals, Curt Morgan writes: Talk about scary good! Over in the womenâ€™s heavyweight throw at the 2014 nationals, youâ€™d find W45 Stephanie Timmer, surely the fastest lady marathoner (best: a phenomenal 3:17) ever to cop double masters weight golds (both shot and discus in Winston-Salem). The â€śscaryâ€ť part? Since sheâ€™s legally blind (from macular degeneration), this former Marine Corps officer actually needs a guide (Linda Swenson) to find her way into the ring. Alternating with other throwers was W35 Marilyn Coleman, whose ballet-like moves as she spins across the ring combine a dancerâ€™s artistry with pure raw power. How she nearly sends the weight into low Earth orbit is also scary (as in, scary beautiful).
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