Q&A with WR man Gary Patton: Hall of Famer was a late bloomer

Gary’s world medals include Perth bronzes at 800, 1500 and 5000.

I’ve seen barrel-chested Gary Patton run many times, but never buttonholed him for a chat. He had a game face up or was warming down. But after he added an M70 mile indoor WR and was inducted into the Masters Hall of Fame, I had no choice. I emailed him and he graciously consented to a Q&A. One of my usual questions yielded an unusual answer. I asked about his youth PRs, expecting to hear national-class marks. Nope. Gary wrote: “I was undersized (I actually grew after high school, but you wouldn’t think so looking at me) and a very late bloomer as a kid. Only athletic involvement was as a student trainer. Only memorable achievement related to high school was that I was elected to the Athletic Hall of Fame by my school, 51 years after graduating, for my achievements as a master athlete. I’ve lived in my old hometown (Rock Rapids, Iowa) all my life – I’m known in my little burg as ‘the runner.’”Now he’s known as Hall of Famer. “Induction was pretty humbling,” he said. “I honestly believed several of those in the running deserved it more than I. I still consider myself a newbie to track and field — still have a lot to learn — and now a big honor to earn.”

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December 15, 2017  Comments Closed

USATF Masters Inclusion Subcommittee explained: Q&A with chair

George does a bunch of events.

Some have noted a new group in the masters universe — the USATF Masters Inclusion Subcommittee. But it’s not really new, having succeeded the Masters Diversity Committee. No matter the name, its mission is still a mystery to many. So I sent questions to its chair, George Melichar. He graciously replied Wednesday. “I work in hospitality and I live in the New Orleans, French Quarter,” he wrote. On mastersrankings.com, he has marks from 400 to 10K at nationals, plus throws (even the super weight) and long jump. At the Ohio annual meeting, he filed this report. Back in 2014, he was profiled on a gay sports website (when he sported a Mohawk haircut). He said: “I have been out since I was 18 years of age. It is important that I run in the Gay Games 9 marathon because I am George Melichar and I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I want my friends and fans to feel equally the same pride in themselves as I do in myself. We are all as one in the journey of life.”

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December 13, 2017  3 Comments

In NYC, Gary Patton pulverizes 30-year-old M70 indoor mile WR

Gary wore his USATF world meet uniform for WR.

His mile was worth an age-graded 4:00.3, but Gary Patton isn’t sweating how close he came to virtual sub-4. At last Thursday’s Armory track races in New York City, Gary at nearly 72 was the 49th of 73 male finishers when he clocked a 5:29.81 to beat the listed M70 indoor WR of 5:32.4 by American Scotty Carter in March 1987. His 200 splits: 43.145, 41.255, 42.020, 42.826 (880 at 2:49.244), 42.051, 40.164, 39.883 and 38.466. John A. Kissane of Runner’s World got the scoop, posted Tuesday night, writing: “Patton has been a top age-group runner for a decade, and he holds several American records in the middle distance events. But the indoor mile world record had been elusive— and intriguing. He first took a serious crack at it last year on the same track, but he ran 5:34.9, missing the mark by two and a half seconds.”

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December 12, 2017  10 Comments

Ted Ensslin dies at 90; was pioneering masters meet organizer

Ted (at the lectern) was the pride of Porterville.

Ted Ensslin, a pioneer masters athlete and meet organizer based in the Central California town of Porterville, died Nov. 30 in Gilbert, Arizona. He was 90 and much-honored by his hometown. My masters track friend Roger Drummond wrote me: “Ted competed in multi events in masters meets for many years. He was instrumental in organizing the Golden State Masters meets in Porterville during the 1970s. I believe he was mentioned in the book ‘The History of Masters Track.’ [Correct, see below]. I remember him always talking about masters track to athletes when I was in high school and at Porterville College. Mr. Ensslin, along with Bob Higginbotham and Orville Gillette, were the main inspirations for me to get involved in masters track.”

Len Olson’s “Masters Track & Field: A History” notes Ted’s place in sport.

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December 11, 2017  2 Comments

Linda Cohn calls shot, sets W65 javelin WR after advance work

Linda Cohn relaxes after busy weeks preparing for WR attempt.

Setting a masters world record takes a lot of work — training, supreme talent and a little luck. But Linda Cohn went a step further — making an all-comers meet into a record-eligible meet for the javelin. Starting in mid-November, she was making sure the Dec. 9 Red-Black open meet at San Diego State University had weights and measures and certified USATF officials to run her event. Rick Reaser, the meet director, worked with her, arranging for San Diego officials Jim Skelly and Jay Beltz to provide a scale for her 500-gram stick. So with friends and teammates Rita Hanscom and Linn Dunton helping with logistics, Linda drove three hours south from Northridge and proceeded to stick a W65 world record just days after turning 65. She even brought a steel tape. Official results haven’t been posted, but she threw 33.99 meters (111-6) (and later a 32.94) to smash the listed WR of 32.02 (105-1) by Holland’s Weia Reinboud in 2016. (In 2014, the W60-74 throwers began using the 500g spear instead of 400g.) Linda is the listed W60 WR holder as well, with her 37.50 (123-0) from 2014.

Linda’s series shows that she broke the WR twice on successive throws.

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December 9, 2017  15 Comments

When will Kim Collins be recognized as the M40 WR man at 60m?

Kim rates the best graphics as well as records.

Kim Collins is still making money running fast in his skivvies at age 41. Now the IAAF reports he’ll make his seventh appearance at the PSD Bank Meeting “when he lines up for the 60m at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Dusseldorf on 6 February 2018. … Collins, the 2003 world 100m champion who set a PB of 9.93 in 2016 at the age of 40, finished a close second in Dusseldorf earlier this year in 6.56, the same time as winner Yunier Perez of Cuba.” So naturally I checked the listed WR at WMA. Says “6.78 Troy Douglas NED 40 25/01/03.” Then I checked my own site and, voila, a post from February noting Kim’s 6.56. (His season best, though, was 6.52, which should by all rights be the listed M40 WR.) So what’s up, WMA? How did Kim fly under your radar? Failed to mail the paperwork?

December 8, 2017  2 Comments

Deadline is Friday for Oceania WMA regional meet, open to all

Mastersrankings.com reminds us that the deadline to enter the late-January Oceania WMA regional meet in New Zealand is Friday, Dec. 8. Americans are welcome. Especially their money, because the point is tourism. (See the travelogue video below.) Fees are very reasonable: $80 to register, and $10 per event or $15 per multi-event. Also noted: “Athletes competing at the OMA Championships should be aware that drug testing will take place in Dunedin. If a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) is required, please contact Dr Roger Parrish, the designated OMA Medical Officer with whom medical matters and TUE issues may be discussed (at) Dr Roger Parrish, 17 Brentwood Avenue, Figtree Heights, NSW 2525. Telephone: 02 4228 6260 (h) Email: roger@parag.com.au. All information and relevant forms can be found on the WMA website.”

December 6, 2017  No Comments

Bob Lida: Honoring M80 as Masters AoY ‘bodes well for the future’

M80 Bob Lida, my fellow Jayhawk, is not only a stellar sprinter but also a top-notch wit. I wrote him for reaction to his second USATF Masters Athlete of the Year award, and he had some clever replies. Asked for his advice, he said: “As you get older, pay attention to muscle mass; somewhere along the line it wants to disappear.” Bob was the subject of a New York Times squib five years ago. “Lida was the Big Eight champion in the indoor 440-yard dash in 1959. Then a problem with his sciatic nerve forced him to quit track; he thought he was washed up at 22 and turned his attention to a career in advertising.” Lots has changed, but he’s still fighting niggling injuries. In fact, he says: “When people ask how long I’ve been running, I jokingly tell them 65 years, but 20 of them have been in rehab.” Here’s a video from two years ago. He hasn’t slowed much.

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December 6, 2017  2 Comments

Malaga money and Snyder candidacy: Big news on WMA worlds

Gary Snyder (in blue) listens at 2009 General Assembly in Lahti, Finland.

Rex Harvey is thinking big — hoping to get more elite USATF masters to 2018 Malaga worlds. Our national masters chair wants to adopt the kiddies’ “No. 1 track team in the world” motto for masters. But this could cost USATF $200,000 — to subsidize travel and reward medalists — and it’s a long shot. At the same time, former masters national chair Gary Snyder has formally announced his candidacy for president of World Masters Athletics. The vote will be at Malaga’s General Assembly. Snyder has a good shot. Here’s the $$$ news out of the Ohio annual meeting, courtesy a report from the Executive Committee: “Harvey discussed the plan to move Team USATF to the top of the medal table at the 2018 WMA Championships in Malaga, Spain, next September. The premise of the plan is that the U.S. has the best talent in the world but getting our best athletes to the World Championships inhibits our overall success there.”

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December 5, 2017  9 Comments

John Seto among 5 inducted into 2017 Masters Track Hall of Fame

John Seto is also adept at databases.

Six age-group greats, and a great administrator, are newly minted Hall of Famers. Committee chair Mary Trotto released the list Sunday night after taking part in the USATF annual meeting in Ohio. She writes: “The following athletes and an administrator have been approved, at the annual convention by the Masters Track and Field committee members, for induction into the MTF Hall of Fame class of 2017. The athletes are Gloria Krug, Dr. William Clark, Harry Nolan, Gary Patton and Thad Wilson Sr. The administrator for service to MTF is John Seto.” John, of course, is the force behind the monumental mastersrankings.com. Names of masters track age-group honorees also were disclosed at a weekend ceremony. And the masters Race Walkers of the Year are the husband and wife team of Dave Talcott and Erin Taylor-Talcott. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on word of which city was awarded 2020 outdoor masters nationals.

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December 3, 2017  13 Comments