Sorensen claims huge world record at 1500 meters
Jim Sorensen is ready to go sub-4! Tom McGlynn of Focus-N-Fly running club shares details of one of the greatest masters runs of the decade — a sub-3:45 1500 by 40-year-old Jim: “On a night when the Oregon Track Club showed why Frank Gagliano is still the best middle-distance coach in the country, it was the man closest in age to вАШGagвАЩ who stole the show. Jim Sorensen became the fastest . . . over-40 1500 runner in history at the Jim Bush/Southern California USATF Championships hosted by Occidental College. SorensenвАЩs 3:44.06 broke the former (M40) best of Luiz Jose Gonsalvez, who ran 3:44.89 as a 41-year-old in 1999.”
Pete Magill, another witness, writes: “Just got back from a track meet at nearby Occidental College. Saw Jim Sorensen run a 1500 in 3:44.06 to set a new masters world record! Also saw Jim spend about 2 hours getting all his paperwork filled out (and a copy of the FAT photo), so the record should get ratified!”
Tony Young — whose M40 mark of 3:46.43 in 2003 was the previous American best (although not listed as an American record) — was quick to add his reactions and congratulations, writing: “I was anxiously waiting to see the results this morning online. Wow! Now that is how to tie ALL of the records (American & World) in a nice little bow. Good to hear about him getting that dreaded paperwork done too! Jim is really on his way to putting some marks out there that absolutely will astonish/challenge the younger generations. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Now we’re in another race against time — persuading meet director Tom Jordan, a former executive veep of World Masters Athletics, to issue an invite to Jim for the mile run at the Pre Classic this coming weekend in Eugene, Oregon.
But let’s savor 3:44.06 for a moment. On the WMA Age-Graded Tables, Jim’s 1500 corresponds to an Open (ages 20-30) equivalent of 3:30.33 — about 4 seconds off the open world record. He’s now about 40th on the USATF open list for this season.
Jim’s 3:44 would have been an IAAF world record as recently as July 1944, when Gunder Hagg went 3:43 to beat fellow Swede Arne Andersson’s hand-timed 3:45.0 of August 1943.
Jim has achieved the “B” qualifying standard for the Indianapolis national championships. To guarantee entrance at open nationals, he’d have to run the 1500 in 3:41.2 — the “A” standard. Or he needs to run a sub-3:59 mile to attain the “A” standard for Indy, which serves as the USA Trials for the Osaka IAAF world meet.
Jim telegraphed his readiness for the latest record in remarks to San Francisco Chronicle track writer John Crumpacker. In an article that ran Saturday, Jim told John: “I think I can do it (set a record),” said Sorensen, who runs for the Sports Basement, a small sporting goods chain that also supports Team in Training. “I think I can at least get the American record. We’ll see.”
We saw. And so did Tom, whose report continues:
Sorensen has been poised to re-write the masters record book since he turned 40 on May 10. He recently set the U.S. Outdoor 800 record at 1:51.57 and has had his sights on the 1500 and mile records. Still the prospect of running nearly 4 laps at sub-60 second pace was not a foregone conclusion since his only marks of the season were 3:52 and 3:57 for the race.
The distance portion of the meet started with three Oregon Track Club members breaking away from the 800 field en route to a sweep of the Top 3 places in a fast race. Elliott Blount exploded on the final homestretch to lead teammate Brandon Shaw under the 1:47 mark with Kevin Elliott just a step behind.
After that, Coach Gagliano tasked 5,000 specialist Sean Graham with setting a fast pace in the 1500. Graham took the race out in 58 seconds with a long string of milers in tow including Sorensen who was in last place and two steps off the pack.
By the 800, Sorensen was three steps off the back and passed in 2:01. From there the quadragenarian showed the youthful field why he remains one of the best finishers in the sport despite the influence of father time. Sorensen bolted from last place to 8th with 400 to go. He continued to move on the back stretch and reached third place before faltering slightly down the home stretch.
Thomas Brooks of the Oregon Track Club won the race while Sorensen finished strong in fitfh place to cross at 3:44.06. His last lap was a not-so-geriatric 58 seconds.
вАЬI want to thank Grahmbo (Sean Graham) and all the other competitors. To get the record here in Los Angeles with my parents in the stands was a true blessing,вАЭ explained Sorensen between high-fives and back slaps from nearly every fan, athlete and official at the meet.
Sorensen, who is sponsored by The Sports Basement of San Francisco, will finish his academic year on June 16 at Bancroft Middle School, where he is a physical education teacher. His next record attempt will take place at the masters mile invite held in conjunction with the USATF Championships at Indianapolis on June 23.
Also at Oxy, 57-year-old Nolan Shaheed again ran under his own M55 American record for 800 meters to 2:06.73 — just nipping the listed AR of 2:06.83 he set in July 2004. But earlier this season, Nolan ran 2:05.43 at Mt. SAC.