We have work to do: Folks still don’t know about masters track
I’ve had this experience. So have you, probably. You’re training at a local track in your colorful meet T-shirt. Another older adult asks you: Are you a marathon runner? Nope, sprints and jumps. Which leads you to describe masters track as your new friend’s jaw drops. I’m reminded of this scenario by a story in the Kitsap (Wash.) Sun. M70 jumper Roger Vergin of Poulsbo is profiled, and the story reports: “Vergin didnâ€™t participate in track and field in school â€” he didnâ€™t even start running until he was in his 30s and even then he was a middle-of-the-pack runner â€” and started his track career two years ago when he noticed another member at his gym wearing a Bremerton West Sound Senior Games T-shirt. ‘I didnâ€™t know that such competition for seniors even existed,’ Vergin said.” This should give everyone in USATF leadership pause. How do we reach folks like this?
John Oleski of Boston has been working on a DVD about USATF masters track — meant for wide distribution and showings to community groups nationwide — but I don’t know its status.
Still, how do we grow our niche if folks like Roger were unaware of us until two years ago?
Here’s the story in case the link goes buh-bye:
Age Is a State of Mind for Masters Track Athlete
By Annette Griffus
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
In just two short years, Roger Vergin of Poulsbo went from novice to national champion.
And it looks like the 72-year-old retired college professor is just getting started.
Vergin won the triple jump with a 27-foot, 4-inch jump at the recent USA Track & Field National Indoor Masters Championships in Boston. He also earned a bronze medal in the pentathlon, a bronze in the 60-meter hurdles and was fourth in the long jump.
Vergin wasnâ€™t the only Kitsap senior to participate at the Boston meet. George Roudebush, 84, of Bainbridge won the 60-meter hurdles, took second in the high jump and finished fifth in the shot put.
Also, Bainbridgeâ€™s Vance Jacobson helped the U.S. to a gold in the 800 relay at the World Masters Indoor Athletics championships last month in Kelowna, B.C.
Roudebush, who ran the hurdles in college at Denison (Ohio) University, joked that his decision to go without spikes and getting over the first hurdle led to the win.
â€śI was surprised to get first,â€ť he said, â€śbecause other guys were doing pretty well.â€ť
Vergin didnâ€™t participate in track and field in school â€” he didnâ€™t even start running until he was in his 30s and even then he was a middle-of-the-pack runner â€” and started his track career two years ago when he noticed another member at his gym wearing a Bremerton West Sound Senior Games T-shirt.
â€śI didnâ€™t know that such competition for seniors even existed,â€ť Vergin said.
He went on the Internet, looked at the results from the previous year and decided to give track a try.
â€śThe result was about what youâ€™d expect from someone who had not adequately prepared a 70-year-old body for vigorous physical effort,â€ť he said. â€śI pulled a groin on about the third jump.â€ť
Vergin sought treatment, got better and began training seriously.
â€śA little bit of success got my competitive juices charged, and I decided to really give it a try,â€ť he said.
Vergin participated in the 2009 Bremerton West Sound Senior Games and won the long jump, triple jump, the 50-meter run and finished third in the shot put. His success led him to participate in the Puget Sound Senior Games, Washington State Championships and several Senior Olympics in Washington, Hawaii, Arizona and Montana.
Vergin finished 2009 with 57 gold medals, six silver and two bronze in 66 events. He also achieved USATF All-American status in nine events; 60-meter dash, 100 meter, 200 meter, long jump, high jump, triple jump, hurdles, decathlon and pentathlon.
That haul includes a silver from the decathlon at the USATF decathlon national championships in Shoreline, an event he led after the first day.
â€śIt was my best performance of the year,â€ť Vergin said. â€śI didnâ€™t feel bad at all about a second-place finish. To finish second in the country is a pretty good outcome, when you consider that I wouldnâ€™t have finished in the top 10 in my own high school if we had held a decathlon.â€ť
Vergin said like most boys, he wanted to be an athlete, but he wasnâ€™t good at sports in high school.
â€śIt has taken me 70 years to find my niche,â€ť he said. â€śYet, with all this success, if I went back to running 5K or 10K road races, I would still finish in the middle of the pack. Those many years of 100 mile-a-month training are behind me.â€ť