Landover’s legacy: World and American records lost forever?
For whatever reason, the timing operation at Landover nationals last weekend was a botch. Posted results still haven’t been fixed. Athletes are in a fog about their marks. One is Earl Fee of Ontario, Canada, among the greatest masters runners of our time (and author of the sensational book at left). He turned 80 the day he ran the 800 in Maryland. “There was no photo timing of my 800 age group 80-84, including the other competitors in my race,” Earl wrote me yesterday in reply to my query. “There was one hand-timer only. I was told my time was 2:50.0, which is 17 second below the old (world) record by Joe King. Joe finished second in 3:20, he says, in my race.” Earl says two USATF officials may be able to ”salvage” his record. And he salutes folks who were “doing their best to help me.” But he says: “It seems the local Landover volunteers don’t have the experience to handle or organize a big meet like this without some problems.”
Earl concluded: “I am at least pleased I broke the record as planned and hundreds of spectators know I broke it by a big margin. Next year I will be older but smarter so the time may be very near the same. In any case, I have 44 other world records. I went out way too fast by about 3 second in the first lap.”
What other potential records were lost at Landover?
Here’s what I’ve gleaned from public comments and private email:
- Athena Track Club’s W45 4×400 team of Jane Brooker, Maryline Roux, Joan Hunter and Charmaine Roberts ran 4:14, under the listed world record of 4:19.21 and an unratified 4:17 from last year.
- An M60 relay for 4×800 that included Frank Condon and Harry Nolan “crushed the relay record, but it won’t be ratified because the FAT crew couldn’t find the offical time,” according to one comment. The M50 4×800 was similar and they finally just gave out the medals with no times able to be found.”
- M45 Karl Smith might have broken his own 60-meter hurdle world record of 8.18, but is still listed as having taken fourth in 12.12 seconds.
- Several throwing records are also up in the air, I’m told.
A private explanation from a high USATF official in Landover included these revelations:
- The timing operation had one “very competent person, but he was not there on Saturday.”
- The other operators were “specialists” who may have worked a lot of meets, but only in specialized (one task) manner with someone else who took care of overall matters and extraordinary circumstances.
- The timing crew wrote one finish line picture on top of another in at least one case involving hurdles.
- There was no time to get results out as new races kept coming.
- They had hardware failures, leaving only one camera working at some times.
- They had failures of the wireless gun sensors, causing many false starts.
- In several cases, Hy-Tek operators were unable to get a heat to the timing people in time for the race so they had to run a “blank” race and then try to figure out who was in it and what lanes while still continuing to run other races.