Athenas braved an Odyssey to the Millrose Games
Perhaps the biggest achievement of the masters tracksters at Friday night’s Millrose Games was simply getting to the meet. Julie Hayden of the victorious Athena TC 4×4 team tells a typical story of grown-ups with jobs, kids and injuries overcoming all to compete at Madison Square Garden. In the course of a Q&A, Julie writes: “Lorraine Jasper was in D.C. for a training weekend in January when she heard that her college gymnast daughter had torn her ACL in training at UNC. The next weekend a ‘sick’ Jasper drove from PA to Upstate NY for the Hartshorne Mile and then straight to North Carolina for her daughter’s surgery. Returning to PA late Wednesday, Jasper, barely recovered, was back in work on Thursday and on the train to the City on Friday!” And that was just one of the Athena foursome.
“Marisa Hanson also ran Hartshorne and experienced a reoccurrence of hamstring problems. Hanson worked a half day in school on Friday, before leaving upstate NY in sleet to make the meet. Terri Rath and I made a late decision to leave VA on Thursday evening at 8 p.m. due to the threat of an a.m. ice storm in the I-95 corridor.
“We arrived at her sister’s house north of NY City around 1 p.m. We had both worked until 6 p.m. on Thursday eve and taught eight conditioning classes, in addition to our training, the three days prior to the meet. Terri has had a long road to recovery following a serious calf injury sustained while working with a personal training client last April. Finally, her determined efforts to return to fitness are being rewarded.”
And Julie herself?
“In the week before Millrose, I sustained a rhomboid injury causing neck, shoulder and upper-back pain to add to the hamstring that was just healing!”
Here’s the rest of the interview, a testament to masters minds over Millrose matter:
Masterstrack.com: Who made up the Athena team? What were your splits? Ages?
Julie Hayden: Running order (was) 1. Julie Hayden 48, 2. Marisa Hanson 44, 3. Terri Rath 44, 4. Loraine Jasper 46. Total Time 4:36.27. We did not get exact splits, but they were all pretty similar. It was a good team performance. We would all profess to come from a mainly middle distance background. Work and family commitments kept our two fastest 400-meter runners, Charmaine Roberts, and Joan Hunter, from participating.
People have complained that the masters weren’t allowed to warm up in the same place as the elites. What was your experience?
We had the same experience. One of the major officials told us that the two short strips of matting were for elite athletes only. There were only other masters on the mats at the time. We came back later to do some stride-outs and some of the schoolkids were warming up in the same area. We joined in and this time a lady told us the same thing. Marie-Louise Michelsohn happened to be warming up with us. Apparently, masters world record holders are not elite athletes. What an insult to Maire-Louise!
How filled were the stands for your races? What was the crowd reaction to your race?
I believe the tickets said that the meet officially started at 6:30 p.m. This would not have helped fill the stands for our race at 5:55 p.m. The seats certainly filled as the evening progressed, but I don’t think it was as full as for the centenary celebrations last year.
I wasn’t too aware of the crowd when I was running, but they did get excited by the way Terri Rath exploded away from the third exchange and blasted by the Shore A.C. athlete who was ahead of her.
The English announcer did a good job, although, of course, Peter Taylor would have been able to provide much greater insight into the background of the runners.
Did you meet or talk to any of the elites? How did the exchange go?
This year we didn’t talk to any of the “young” elites who were competing. We did however talk to several of our fellow master athletes who we consider elite
There were two other very interesting conversations. One, at the meet hotel, with a very nice guy from the USATF Foundation and another while watching the meet. A young Australian athlete from Canberra was “in town” for the Empire State Building Stair Race on Tuesday. He won a free flight and was spending a week in NY. Apparently he ran for Texas in the late ’90s and had also qualified for the Australian Olympic Trials in the steeplechase. Great young man, catching the meet straight off the plane.
What personal “issues” did y’all overcome to compete at Millrose?
Where shall I start? I’m pretty sure all the teams have similar stories, but at least it provides more than just the times ran, and may help others to realize what all of us masters overcome to compete. (The rest above).
My admiration goes out to Kevin Forde, determined to achieve a longtime ambition to participate in this event despite sustaining a stress fracture in January! ( Brave run, and heal quickly, Kev. )
What are your day jobs (for the Athenas)? How do your co-workers react to your track stardrom?
Lorraine runs an antique store P/T. Marissa teaches P.E. and Special Ed in a Middle School. Terri Rath is a Personal Trainer and teaches youth conditioning classes, deep water training, and cross country camps with me. I also teach aqua aerobics and coach youth track with Joan Hunter. We have other teachers, fitness professionals, business women and when not coaching track, Joan stays home with her 8 kids!
How many of you brought out families to cheer you on?
Terri had the biggest fan club. Her 22-year-old daughter drove up with us and Terri’s sister, husband and two kids came to watch. Marissa’s husband was there too, Lorraine and I relied on our buddies from Philadelphia Athletic Charities to cheer us on
Did any of you run Millrose as kids?
Marisa had run in a 4×800 years back when the track was boards. I think that’s about it.
Was the vetting process for this year’s masters relays fair and sensible?
It wasn’t a problem for us. We just renewed our club and individual memberships. Mary Rosado provided concise information from December 17 onward.
After your race, what event did you enjoy watching the most?
Probably a toss-up between the mile races and the “Fastest Kid in NY.” The girls changing lanes in the 60 was funny, as was the boy’s early victory celebration, “Kevin Forde style,” in the little guys’ race. I liked the hype for the shot put too
Anything else you want to tell me about your Millrose experience?
It might not fit with the training schedule, and warming up backstage on concrete floors kills my knees, but I am very proud and excited to say that I ran in the Millrose Games at Madison Square Gardens, especially since I know (and have been told, of course) that I am not an elite athlete. I’m going to be proudly sharing my medal and experiences this week with my youth and “young at heart training partners” that inspire me each and every day
Julie sent these photos along as well:
Leadoff runner Dawn Littlejohn of Shore A.C. has the early lead in the 4×4. ahead of Julie Hayden (Athena T.C.) with Bohemia TC in pursuit.
Athena TC’s (from left) Julie Hayden, Lorraine Jasper, Marisa Hanson and Terri Rath combined to win the women’s 4×4 in 4:36.27.
Philadelphia Athletic Charities relay members (from left) Kevin Forde, Chuck Shields, Ray Parker and Scott Landis took fourth in the masters men’s 4×4 with a 3:52.52.
OK, now that we have the Athenas’ story, share yours! Don’t be shy.