Set DVR to tape National Geographic Explorer at 10 p.m. Monday

New York Times story was just the beginning.

In late April, I was contacted by a documentary filmmaker shooting a short about the 119-year-old (bogus) sprinter in India, Dharam Singh. I gave my thoughts to a film crew for three hours at the San Diego State University track. Tonight (Monday), their efforts will be shown on the “Explorer” series of National Geographic Channel. It’s likely 10 p.m. on the East and West coasts, and 9 p.m. Central. I’m not sure whether I’m in the final cut. (And another version will be posted on Vimeo eventually, I’m told.) But this should be interesting. It builds on the work by Jere Longman of The New York Times, who exposed the age fraud. My guess is the documentary will focus on how Dharam doesn’t give a damn about the Times’ report. He’s just soaking up the adulation of his Indian village, which also doesn’t give a hoot about MSM. They just love having a “star” in their midst. “It’ll be available to watch on TV and online,” said Mor Albalak of MEL Films. “We’re really excited about the piece and hope that you’ll enjoy it! Following [NatGeo’s] release, we’ll be releasing our longer and more in-depth version of the film on melfilms.com.”

June 26, 2017  5 Comments

Dussett, Henry win USATF masters 400s; Gröger goes sub-51 at 52

Roland lowered his own M50 WR in the 400.

Antwon Dussett easily won the masters men’s 400 exhibition Sunday at Sacto open nationals, clocking an M40 world leading 49.01. (No. 2 is 50.13 by a Brazilian.) His mark is less than six-tenths of a second off the listed American record of 48.44 by James King in 1989. Nice! The women’s winner was W40 Angee Henry, whose 57.11 is way better than the world No. 2 this season of 60.35 by an Aussie. It’s also close to the listed AR of 56.90 by Latrica Dendy at 2016 Perth worlds. Double nice! But word also arrived of a new M50 WR at the 400 by our old friend Roland Gröger, whose 50.73 made him the first M50 to go sub-51. His coach, Daniele Biffi, said “our goal was 50.80!” The race was in Sunday’s Nord Germany Championships in Berlin (see results here). Roland ran 51.02 last year, but didn’t get credit for beating Fred Sowerby’s listed M50 WR of 51.39 from 1999. “Next week we have the German Championships.” Also at Sacto: Justin Gatlin won the 100 in an M35 WR 9.95 (beating a Kim Collins 9.96), and Jenn Suhr at 35 took silver in the vault at 4.65 (15-3). Not as good as her 5.83 (15-10) also at 35. But USATF/WMA better recognize this as superior to Stacy Dragila’s listed WR of 4.55!

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June 25, 2017  No Comments

Charlie Rader’s big confidence-booster: 5-3 high jump at age 69

Charlie celebrates his best jump in three years.

Charlie Rader is 69. He once held the M45 American record in the high jump, doing the straddle. On Saturday at the USA Masters Games at UC San Diego, he delighted himself by clearing 1.60 meters (5-3) — his best mark since 2014. More important: He’s on a roll toward challenging the listed M70 world record of 1.59 (5-2 1/2) set 10 years ago by Sweden’s Carl-Erik Särndal. (The indoor record is the same, also by Carl.) The mark brings back memories. Charlie was a graduate assistant from Cal State Fullerton when I was a 5-4 sophomore high jumper at nearby Valencia High School in north Orange County. (He jumped about 6-11 in college.) Now he’s only a foot below his 1993 season best of 1.92 (6-3 1/2). So come April 2018, if he keeps his form and fitness, he could be No. 1 in the world. Also competing on Day 1 of the games was Quenton “Doug” Torbert in the shot, whose best heave was 15.93 (52-3 1/4). That’s off his season best, in Eugene, of 16.66 (54-8), now the listed WR. Doug says he’s training through this meet, pointing for LSU nationals. Photos of him and many others are in this Google Drive folder. Feel free to download any, but please give me a photo credit.

One of the best straddle technicians in masters, Charlie has starred for decades.

June 24, 2017  7 Comments

USATF buries word of masters exhibition 400s at nationals Sunday

Antwon Dussett should dominate men’s race.

Sunday afternoon in Sacramento, between the semifinals of the women’s 200 and men’s high hurdles, packed fields of masters quarter-milers — women and men — take the stage at USATF open nationals. But online that stage has barely any spotlight. The 400s aren’t mentioned on the USATF results site. The entries aren’t listed on the official heat sheets. You have to dive into the homepage for nationals to see a reference to exhibition events. Such a shame. Joy Upshaw, taking over from Mark Cleary as exhibitions czar, has done a great job assembling the fields. Every lane should be filled (unlike races at previous nationals). She’s gathered personal info from each entrant for use at Sacto. It’ll be a great show. Just hope the livestream doesn’t overlook our folks. The women go at 12:38 p.m. Pacific and the men 10 minutes later. Best of luck to all.
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June 24, 2017  8 Comments

Need relays, poles at LSU nationals? USATF pair have you covered

Aiming to improve the mid-July Baton Rouge nationals, USATF officials Jeff Brower and Bill Murray are working hard behind the scenes. Jeff sends word that he’s created this online tool for people looking to join a 4×100, 4×400 or 4×800 at LSU. Also the shuttle hurdles. (You can form an “ad hoc” foursome if you don’t have a club.) “Your email address IS protected from spam-mining software,” Jeff says. “Don’t fill this out unless you want your contact information available for others to contact you.” He says he’ll delete the contact data after nationals. Bill, the record-setting decathlete now on the Games Committee, writes: “Masters Track now has over 30 poles that will be available at all the Masters National T&F Championships, starting in Baton Rouge, LA. The pole list is available here. We are still accepting tax-deductible donations. We have raised over $5,000 to date but still need about $3,000 more. If you are feeling generous, make your check payable to Masters Pole Vault Program and mail it to: Carroll DeWeese, MTF Treasurer, 932 Purdy, Birmingham, MI (yes, Michigan) 48009.”

USATF masters-branded poles will be shipped around the country as needed.

June 23, 2017  2 Comments

Meet Todd Straka, threat to beat Nolan Shaheed’s M50 mile WR

Dave Albo photo of Todd at Music City Distance Carnival.

Buried in the open mile results of the Music City Distance Carnival nearly two weeks ago is a fifth-place 4:26.39 by Todd Straka. The Nashville results don’t reveal two key things: Todd is 50, and his time is less than 2 seconds off Nolan Shaheed’s listed world record of 4:25.04 from 2001. So yowza! I had to learn more. Recently I connected with Todd, and was stunned to learn something else: He didn’t run in high school or college, “although I did run about 6:02 for the mile in junior high for the President’s Fitness Test and 12:02 for the 2-mile in a college time trial for a jogging class.” What kept him from becoming a middle-distance star? He played that sport with a strange-looking ball on a field with horizontal stripes. “Yeah, I played football for my first two years,” he wrote. “Since we had to run for football and it was usually part of training or punishment, I didn’t really think much about it after that. I may have even thought to myself as I noticed friends in cross country, why would they want to go through that punishment?”

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June 22, 2017  2 Comments

USA Masters Games boasts big names, return of M60 Greg Pizza

(From left in red) Striders teammates Joe Ruggless, Greg Pizza and Damien Leake are all entered in Masters Games sprints.

The USA Masters Games come to UC San Diego on Saturday and Sunday, and the entry list is slim. But major names are entered, including M70 Steve Robbins (a former San Diegan) in the 100 and 200, M80 sprint gods Bob Lida and Bobby Whilden, M70 distance great Gary Patton (entered in the 8, 15 and 5k), M65 shot champion Doug Torbert and M60 TJ legend Willie Banks (doing only the high jump). On the women’s side, W75 Kathy Bergen will dominate the 100, 200 and high jump and do well in the discus and javelin. Also notable is M60 sprinter Greg Pizza, eligible after a 20-month doping suspension. At first, I couldn’t find the meet on USATF calendar (I searched for San Diego; it was listed as La Jolla, I learned.) So it’s USATF-sanctioned. The Chuck McMahon Masters Meet — canceled at Cal State San Marcos because of same-weekend conflict — is hosting the meet.

June 22, 2017  Comments Closed

2 birthdays, 2 WRs: M85 David Carr and W50 Nicole Weiling-Dissel

Nicole of Team Thuijs has a history of world titles.

Setting a world record is special. Setting a WR on your birthday is incredible. So what do we make of this? Back-to-back WRs while aging up! On June 15, many time world champion David Carr of Western Australia ran 1500 meters in 6:27.3 on his 85th birthday at the Ern Clark Athletics Centre. That beat the listed WR of 6:38.23 by the late Ed Whitlock of Canada last August. The next day, on her 50th birthday, Holland’s Nicole Weiling-Dissel ran the 800 in 2:13.04 at a meet in Soest, shattering the listed WR of 2:16.05 by Australia’s Jeanette Flynn in 2005. Weia Reinboud reports that Nicole’s coach is the one who guided Ellen van Langen to Olympic gold at 800 at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Superstar David shows off hardware from several of his WMA world meets.

June 21, 2017  2 Comments

Kevin Castille crushes one of the oldest masters WRs on the books

In 1982, French Olympian Lucien Rault set the M45 world record in the 5000 of 14:23.6. It wasn’t a surprise. He’d run the 10K in the 1976 Olympics in 29:40.76 at age 40. But the shocker is that Lucien’s time would hold up as the WR for 35 years. Now we have Kevin Castille claiming the M45 WR with his incredible 14:11.09 at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville two weekends ago. An earlier mark of 14:22.55 is still being reviewed, according to Jeff Brower’s list of pending marks. No mention of the 14:11, however. Kevin’s times have been under a cloud for years, though, since he’s a former admitted cocaine dealer. But as Charles Bethea details in his amazing 2014 profile of Kevin, the doping doubts have been addressed: “The more records he breaks, the more he’s been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. (He has never failed a test.) The LetsRun message boards are full of anonymous suspicion. Even Hop’s friends openly wonder: How did this guy seem to come out of nowhere and suddenly start winning so much? It must be that he’s juicing. Kevin thinks it’s funny, in a way, given that he handled crack cocaine for a decade and never used the stuff. People, he says, think he came out of nowhere, but they don’t know about Acadiana, or ULL, or his decade off, or how hard he works now.” He also slept in an altitude tent set at 10,000 feet. I know people who won’t accept Kevin’s marks as unjuiced. But I have no evidence. All I know is he beat Pete Magill’s listed AR of 14:34.27 and Lucien’s 14:23 — at least twice. Let’s see what Jeff has to say — if the 14:11 is submitted.

Highlight of day one @runmcdc 5k masters 45 WR. Kevin Castille. #amazingrace

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June 20, 2017  4 Comments

No discus records for M50, M60, but Grimes, Gault fast at West L.A.

Mickey Grimes ran 9.99 back in the day.

Results of the June 10 Wine Country Games in Santa Rosa show that M50 Cameron Bolles and M60 Ralph Fruguglietti fell short of their American record goals in the discus. But they both threw pretty damn far — 57.85 (189-9) for Cameron and 54.59 (179-1) for Ralph. Not sure of the conditions, which matter in that event. But I’m pretty sure Willie Gault and Mickey Grimes would have gone faster on Day 1 of the USATF West Region Masters Championships at West Los Angeles College had they not be running into a stiff wind. Willie at 56 clocked 11.77 into a 2.7 mps wind (off his own WR of 11.30), and newbie M40 Mickey Grimes, a former elite world champ relayist, ran 11.32 into the same wind. Also notable was Nolan Shaheed clocking a 5:28.54 mile at age 67. Results are here.

June 17, 2017  3 Comments