We’re history. Masterstrack.com hands baton to masterstrack.blog

The blog is dead. Long live the blog. This is my last post — No. 5,755 — on masterstrack.com. But not to worry. After nearly 20 years, I’ve birthed another blog at masterstrack.blog. (Not that catchy, but what the hell.) Why? For the sake of my semi-retirement. The new site will afford me new revenue opportunities. This site, “totally tweaked” by my late brother Loren (who went by Al), has certain infirmities. So I’m shedding this old skin and doing a butterfly thing. Watch me fly at the new site, where I expect to use new tools to better cover our beloved geezersport and comment on its crazy issues and characters. You can still post comments here (and there). You can still search old content. (I have to, since I’ve forgotten two-thirds of what I’ve written.) And you can still browse the old message board (which I haven’t explored in years. Sorry.) I hope you’ll continue joining me (and correcting me) on the new site. It’s dedicated to all you freaks-of-nature and fellow submediocres who cherish the sport of track and field.

My debut homepage on May 1, 2018. A labor of love. Please follow me there.

May 2, 2018  10 Comments

In 2017, Sandro Viana quietly claimed M40 WR in 400: sub-47

Sandro ran at the 2008 and 2012 Games.

Sandro Viana of Brazil is a two-time Olympian and bronze 4×100 medalist from 2008 Beijing. Nearly 10 years later, he’s still in the elite game. But he needs a better publicist. On Wednesday, world-class stat-spotter Matt Bogdanowicz tipped me off to Sandro’s 400 time from last July. Four months after turning 40, Sandro ran a lap in a mind-boggling 46.96 seconds — becoming the first M40 to go sub-47 and crushing the listed WR of 47.81 by Italy’s Enrico Saraceni in 2004. Yowza! His PR appears to be 46.19 at age 35, according to his IAAF bio. At the dawn of masters track, the listed M40 WR was 49.7 by Britain’s John Dixon in 1973. If his DOB is confirmed and the July 1 meet in question validated, Sandro should get recognition as the new record-holder. Anyone speak Portuguese?

April 25, 2018  2 Comments

Kirsten Leetch sets W50 10K record at Mt. SAC amid thin fields

Eugene Driver returned again to deploy his drag chute in the men’s 100. He ran 14.21.

Masters excelled at the Mt. SAC Relays — but more on Thursday and Friday than the exhibition day Saturday. The headliner was Kirsten O’Hara-Leetch, who at age 52 set a torrid pace around the track at El Camino College in Torrance. Her 10K time of 37:04.87 smashed Kathy Martin’s 14-year-old American age-group record of 37:12.23 set at Decatur nationals. (The listed W50 WR remains 35:05.7 by Britain’s Fiona Matheson.) Kirsten — a member of the fabled Janes Elite Racing Team — is a former Olympic Trials entrant in the 10K and marathon who starred at UC Berkeley. Her club reported: “Of her race, Kirsten said, ‘Everything just fell into place for me’ as she clicked off seemingly easy laps at just under 6-minute mile pace, but we know how hard she’s worked toward this goal, and how many miles she’s logged in training, which only make this accomplishment that much more rewarding.”

Kirsten leads kiddies in Thursday’s 10K at Mt. SAC Relays. Photo by Bill Leung.

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April 23, 2018  5 Comments

Steve Scott, 61, retiring as track coach after 19-year Cal State run

We used to call Steve “American Mile Record Holder for Life.”

Steve Scott made a brief attempt at running the first sub-4 mile outdoors as an M40 in the mid-1990s, but testicular cancer derailed that goal. He ended up helping hundreds of male and female athletes achieve their goals as founding coach of the track and cross country programs at Cal State San Marcos north of San Diego. On Tuesday, he announced his plans to retire to cool-during-summer Pacific Grove after this season. See my report for Times of San Diego. I’ve reached out to him, hoping to learn his plans for retirement. Maybe shoot for the M60 world record in speed golf? (He created the sport.) In any case, vaya con Dios, Coach.

April 19, 2018  2 Comments

WMA replaces website design and manager Jeff Brower of USA

Here’s old WMA site as of Ides of March 2018.

Jeff Brower, webmaster of USATFMasters.org, is done managing the World Masters Athletics website. Last week, the site’s redesign debuted — more than four years after Jeff’s page replaced one led by former Eurovets President Dieter Massin of Germany. (See my January 2014 Q&A) The new site, using WordPress software (like my blog), is pretty spiffy — and much easier to update from the back end. I wrote to the new webmasters — Stewart Marshall and Sinara Lourdes Zorzo. They graciously responded to my queries. My favorite new feature is a graphic showing where site visitors are coming up.

Here’s Friday the 13th homepage of new WMA website. Click for introduction.


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April 13, 2018  6 Comments

Hundreds mourn Hall of Famer Nick Newton at ‘last track meet’

Coco listens to taps played for his grandfather.

Covelli “Coco” Crisp took three tries at high-jumping 5-6 1/2 Saturday. Wearing flats and shorts, the 38-year-old couldn’t duplicate the former M55 world record of his grandfather — USATF Masters Hall of Famer Nick Newton. But Coco excelled as emcee of Nick’s memorial service Saturday at Shadow Hills High School in Indio (a half-hour from Palm Springs). The former major leaguer recently was hired to coach that school’s baseball team, so he had a good place to hold a service attended by hundreds of family members, friends and former masters track buddies. Sheila Newton, Nick’s wife of 60 years, dubbed the event “Nick’s last track meet.” So after a military honor guard played taps and presented a folded flag to her, and tributes were delivered by family members and masters tracksters Annelies Steekelenburg and Glenn Johnson, the audience walked or jogged around the track, stopping to view posters of Nick’s record-setting track career. About a dozen masters friends attended, including Bill Knocke, Mel Brooks, Sam Flory, Jeff Davison and Jorge Birnbaum. I videotaped most of the service (in triple-digit heat) and will post when I can. In the meantime, here are some photos I shot.

Two eras of Nick Newton’s breakthrough starting blocks were on display. (Mine, bought at discount from Nick at the Mt. SAC Relays, are on the right.)

April 8, 2018  3 Comments

You can enter Malaga worlds now, but deadline date is debatable

Social media have shared link to this page.

Despite the Malaga website saying online registration is “Coming soon,” athletes who want to compete at WMA worlds in September can sign up here. Closing date for entries, according to the Malaga site, is July 11. But USATF Masters info page says: “The entry deadline for USATF athletes is July 14, 2018 (no exceptions).” Whatever. Americans are advised: “You will receive a confirmation (on screen and via email) and password upon completion of your application. If you do not receive a confirmation you did not complete the application in its entirety. Your application is not considered complete until it has been reviewed and approved by USATF. The status of entry page will reflect the current status of your entry as either open or’verified.’ The verification of the entry is based on whether the applicant is a U.S. citizen, has a proof of age (copy of birth certificate or passport) on file with USATF, and is in good standing with USATF.” Best of luck! (More details here.)

April 6, 2018  No Comments

What’s IAAF Masters Committee doing? No exhibitions at worlds

Finishers in the 2016 Portland IAAF masters exhibition 800.

Writing in the Irish Times, Olympic distance medalist Sonia O’Sullivan makes a pitch for masters exhibitions at major road and track events. She said: “Masters athletics is … a huge growth area that should be used to drive the championships, with exhibition races, or maybe a handicap race, depending on age, which could be a bit of fun, because the focus needs to be on enjoyment. Only last weekend Irish masters won 29 medals at the European Masters Championships in Madrid, including eight gold medals.” Too bad she didn’t have clout with organizers of 2017 IAAF outdoor worlds in London and 2018 IAAF indoor worlds in Birmingham, where masters were left out (after being in IAAF 2016 Portland indoors and 2015 IAAF Beijing outdoors ). IAAF has a masters committee. What is it doing on our behalf?

April 2, 2018  No Comments

Nick Newton dies at 84; Hall of Famer invented modern blocks

Nick and Sheila Newton at 2013 party for him.

About 20 years ago, working out of a Mt. SAC Relays booth, Nick Newton gave me a 50 percent discount on his starting blocks. I still have them — with “KEN STONE’ etched in the rail. His life and legend are etched in me as well. Contacted by his daughter Saturday morning about his death a little after midnight, I was humbled to be among the circle of friends notified. I had attended a 2010 Pomona surprise party in his honor and his 80th birthday party in 2013. By 8:30 p.m. Saturday, after talking with his daughter, Pamela Crisp; his wife, Sheila; and his old friends Annelies Steekelenburg and Doug Smith, I had written and posted an obituary on Times of San Diego. I shared it via social media and posted the link on the Track & Field News message board. But even with research in National Masters News (and this blog), the story falls short of adequate. Nick, even more than the Dos Equis guy, was truly “the most interesting man in the world.” I hope to hear from more of his world-class friends. He’ll be dearly missed.

Second from right, Nick was silver medalist in M60 100 at 1995 Buffalo worlds.

April 1, 2018  12 Comments

Dick Held dies at 91; javelin guru was brother of WR man Bud

Dick Held made the best javelins.

Last week, I had the sad job of reporting the death of Dick Held, the older brother of Bud Held, a USATF Hall of Famer who set world records in the javelin and threw in the 1952 Olympics. In my obituary for Times of San Diego, I wrote how amateur rules at the time barred Bud from selling the spears he made, “so he asked Dick: Would you be interested in making javelins? And he said, ‘Well, yeah. Why not?’ Bud recalled. “At that time he was an electrician. … I honestly did not expect him to be that successful.” But while Bud never thought Dick was that good mechanically, “it turns out he was. He produced the best javelins in the world for many years,” Bud said. The javelin world mourns the passing of a legend.

Dick (left) and brother Bud during mid-1970s trip to the Sierra Nevadas.

Dick (left) and brother Bud during mid-1970s trip to the Sierra Nevadas.

March 30, 2018  4 Comments