Missouri masters sprint pair profiled as longtime track rivals
Track isn’t just a sport for life. It’s a sport for friends. Marvelous example of this comes in a slice-of-life article in the Columbia Missourian, the local paper produced by journalism students at the University of Missouri (archrival of my William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas). But I’ll forgive my rival this time, since it did a great job profiling a pair of mid-50s sprint rivals, who have been competing against each other for more than 40 years! Jack Uhrig and Steve Terry are the subjects. But masters track is the backdrop. A cameo appearance is made by my old Southern California masters friend Ernie Snodgrass, the sprinter in the photo below — unnamed in the article but well-known to masters tracksters around the country.
Here’s the story, in case the link goes bye-bye:
COLUMBIA — Jack Uhrig readies himself in the starting blocks with his hands on the ground and head down for the start of the men’s 100-meter dash. The gun sounds and he busts from the starting blocks and sprints down the track. Meanwhile, Steve Terry is running in the opposite direction, doing a practice jump in preparation for the men’s long jump.
Terry, 54, of Lexington, and Uhrig, 55, of Marshall, competed in the Show-Me State Games’ track and field competition Saturday night at Walton Stadium. They have been taking part in the event since 1993, but they have been competing against each other since 1967.
“It’s been a friendly rivalry over the years,” Terry said. “He’ll win some, I’ll win some, it keeps us motivated.”
Terry and Uhrig started their rivalry in high school, when they competed against each other in track and field. Through the years of competition, they have become friends and teammates.
Uhrig, who is Terry’s doctor as well, are both members of the Heartland Masters Track Club and train six days a week to keep in tip-top shape for their rigorous schedule of track meets.
“It’s our form of a social club as opposed to going to bars and drinking,” Terry said. “It keeps us healthy and it’s a good form of weight control.”
The two compete in more than 20 track meets throughout the year all over the country. Just recently they teamed up with two others to take home the 4×800 championship in the 50-59 age division at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Oshkosh, Wisc. But they say the Show-Me State Games is what really drives them throughout the year.
“This is something we point toward all year,” Terry said. “It’s a chance for us to see how we stack up against the best in Missouri.”
“Yeah, this is our Olympics,” Uhrig said.
Uhrig starts training early before he goes into work every day, running and weightlifting as well as swimming two to three times a week. Terry starts his training in the evening, but prefers bike riding to swimming.
“Jack keeps me motivated to get after it every day,” Terry said. “It could be snowing out and or rainy, but I know he’s probably training, so that means I have to go out there and train too if I want to keep up.”
They describe their passion and commitment to fitness as a way to beat, “Father time.” A feat they say they think they’ve accomplished.
“We know we’re going to get old and we can’t fight that, but we don’t want to sit around and let our age show,” Terry said. “That’s why we remain active.”
Uhrig sees the effects of aging whenever he works with patients at the hospital. He compares the well-being of people as they get older to a game of cards.
“In life it’s the cards you’re dealt and how you play them. You can be dealt a bad hand and play them well, but you can also be dealt a good hand and play it poorly,” Uhrig said. “I’m scared of getting old, so I’ve always tried to play a good hand by taking care of myself.”
In this year’s games Uhrig is taking on a schedule of 11 events that range from the 100-meter dash to the 5K run. While Terry’s schedule is not as intense, he still competes in seven events.
“Jack’s a personal hero of our group,” Terry said. “He takes on such a strenuous schedule of events, and yet it doesn’t phase him, and he still does well in all of them.”
Terry and Uhrig’s training and commitment to staying fit has payed off. It’s hard to guess they’re approaching their mid 50s. Terry and Uhrig stand side by side at the meet in their bright yellow Heartland Masters Track Club jerseys that show off their slim, but toned arms. Their black shorts display bulging leg muscles.
“We have big egos,” Terry said. “We like shocking people when we tell them our age, it makes us feel like our hard work has payed off.”
Terry and Uhrig’s schedule of competition will continue after they are through with the Show-Me State Games. They will move on to Colorado Springs, Colo., next weekend to compete in the State Games of America. But they don’t plan on making this games their last, not by a long shot.
“We want to be able to compete into our 80s,” Terry said.