Jerry Bookin-Weiner unloads on throws fiascos at Sacto, Berea

Jerry Bookin-Weiner officially is USATF Masters T&F throws coordinator. Unofficially, he’s the conscience of our weight segment. That comes through stunningly in his latest Throwers Circle column in National Masters News. (You can download it here.) He rips the sport a new one for the way it treats throwers at nationals and worlds. I can’t do justice to his litany of horrors. He’s got his ducks in a row, but who knows if anyone is listening? He deserves a hearing from you guys, though, and your support.

NMN column was graciously provided by editor and publisher Randy Sturgeon.

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September 22, 2011

28 Responses

  1. Bubba Sparks - September 22, 2011

    I read this and probably like most non-throwers, was not aware of the depth of the issue. Good for him to put it put there in such a convincing way.
    I’ve always had friends that were throwers. I was at the meet in Elgin, Texas where the thrower was killed by being struck walking outside of a sector. Seth Brower, our sport’s top promoter in Texas is a BIG throws guy so that keeps me tracking it too. GREAT job Jerry!!

  2. Vance Jacobson - September 22, 2011

    I am a multi-event competitor and enjoy improving my skills in open events. I find that for meets like Sac Natls in 2010 I would have had difficulty entering an open throws event because of the logistics of ‘commuting’ over 1/4 mile to the venue from a jump, hurdle, or sprint event at the track. Not that it cannot be done. My wish would be that at national or regional events, the selection of a facility would consider placement of field events. Facilities like Cerritos College, Citrus College, University of Oregon, Moorpark College would qualify as convenient for competitors. I am sure there must be some similarly well-conceived sites located elsewhere in the country. So, in selecting the national venues, could there be a pre-proposal set of standards, one of which is the proximity of all events to each other. By the way, throwers are a really cool group to hang out with!

  3. Neni - September 22, 2011

    I also sent a letter to National Masters News about my horrible experience in Berea out of frustration with how the throwers are treated. All you heard leading up to the Nationals was how great the track was but to my horror the conditions for the throwers was totally unacceptable. A track with a ripped up surface and in degraded condition would never even be considered for a National Championship so why is it OK for the throwers to be subjected to such crappy conditions. I nearly twisted my ankle walking out in the landing area for the hammer. It was uneven with a ravine in the middle of it. The field was horrendous. Needless to say I was outraged. Thankfully none of the officials got hurt. They had to be very careful where they stepped. No one could get a record with the uneven & downhill landing area. We pay our entry fees like everyone else. The throwers have been treated very unfairly on many occasions & deserve better. If I sound like I am pissed off, well I am.

  4. Milan Jamrich - September 22, 2011

    I am not a thrower, but this does not sound good….

  5. Nadine O'Connor - September 22, 2011

    Thanks for the insightful article, Jerry. As a late-to-the party, ectomorph wannabe thrower, I have only relatively recently become aware of the problems that throwers encounter in competitions (though, I must admit that I do like the fact that throwers get little attention. Maybe that is because I am so bad at it!) It was good to know that I wasn’t alone in thinking that the rings in Sacramento were too slippery. Did anyone else (besides Bud) notice that the hammer sector in at the nationals in Spokane was sloping up hill?

    It is disturbing to learn that Carol’s, Jennifer’s and Ruth’s fine marks won’t be recognized as records. National championships should always held be on legal fields and tracks.

    And, I agree with Vance’s comment: Throwers are indeed a very cool group to hang out with! I am in awe of all of you!

  6. mike shiaras - September 22, 2011

    Jerry is absolutely correct about throwing venues in general and Berea in particular. As a spectator, I ventured (perhaps a mile and a half) by car out to the hammer area to watch old friends Ron Summers and Richard Watson compete. At first I laughed out loud at the absurdity of the situation concerning the facility–until the thought occurred to me that Ron and Richard would have to thrown in that horrendous “cow pasture” of a venue. Shameful. Not to be confused, the actual officiating of the throwing events was outstanding.

  7. Mary Harada - September 22, 2011

    Apparently in their eagerness to find venues for National Masters Championships, it is become acceptable to skim over the requirement for field event facilities. This is no more acceptable than putting on the track portion of a meet on a track with potholes.
    It would be nice to go to a national masters track meet and find good facilities for all events, good officiating, and compliance with the requirements for masters meets -including age group back numbers – printed in large enough letters that one need not climb on the persons back to see what it is, and a timing system run by people who know how to time masters track meets. And ….the ability for participants and fans to watch the field events without having to take a bus off to a cow pasture and risk being hit with flying objects. But I guess that is just a pipe dream.

  8. Milton Girouard - September 22, 2011

    I’m glad someone as passionate about throws as I personally know Jerry is and with some status in the USATF, is going public with these throwers issues. I fear as much as it is a real problem, it will be ignored as usual by the USATF. I’ve strongly proposed in the past that Master’s National Championship throwing events be held separate from the running, vaulting and jumping events, as is done with Weight Pentathlon Championships. Possibly the National Championships for the throwing events and W.P. Championships could be held together at the same venue. With more and more throwing facilities being built around the country like Mac Wilken’s facility in Oregon and others, throwers will no longer be forced to throw in such poor conditions. As throwing athletes, we deserve the same respect and safety as the rest. Though some have said on this post, and I know you all meant it as a compliment, that throwers are a really cool group to hang out with. That’s nice to know. But what I think alot of throwers would really like is to be seen as the competitive and great athletes we truly are and not cast aside at these big meets as if we were part of a traveling carny show. Our own Championships event is the only answer I see for better facilities for throwers and better treatment in general.

  9. Bob Cedrone - September 22, 2011

    First off, many thanks and a collective tip of the hat to the officials at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds site who had to deal with the marking of the throws and implement retrieval, while negotiating/avoiding the inevitable mud splatter when the Hammer or Weight made it’s impact.

    Secondly, the best comment I heard all weekend regarding the “cow pasture” venue to which Mike Shiaras alluded in an earlier posting, was from the M50-59 group of medalists… “Where do we go to pick up our Best in Show Ribbons?”

  10. Randy Wilson - September 22, 2011

    In the Pacific Association championships we have thrown Javelin on grass runways 2 years running. Last year we threw shot and discus at the track, then traveled many miles (crossed from CA into Nevada) and made a make shift hammer ring at a high school to compete in the hammer and weight throw. Throwers in Northern CA have learned to conduct their own meets and often represent 30+ % of participants in a few Bay Area meets. Throwers tend to march to a different drum and it’s a great group!! Proper respect or not we will thrive.

  11. Barry Warmerdam - September 22, 2011

    Jerry’s article is right on. As a javelin thrower at the worlds this year, I didn’t feel connected to the rest of the meet. The throwers themselves are great to be with, but the track was a long ways away and by the time I was done competing there were no more races left. The next day there were no events at all, so I never saw a race or heard an announcement. At the National Senior Games in Houston the javelin was also pretty distant from the stadium. Yet I watched the elite world championships in Korea on TV and the javelin was held inside the stadium! If they can do it, why can’t it be done in masters meets?

  12. Kiwi Girl - September 23, 2011

    I agree with everything except for the paragraph on announcers which is totally incorrect. There is usually only one, not several announcers at the national meet. I seriously doubt the announcer is purposely ignoring the throwers, just unable to announce them due to lack of proximity to the main venue. He can’t announce what he can’t see. The solution to this is to bring the throws into the main venue so the announcer is able to see and report on their events.

  13. JStone - September 23, 2011

    Looks like I’ll join in on the vent session. It would be nice to have minimum standards for facilites and to have rules that promote fair competition actually enforced!

    1. Contesting javelin on grass stinks!

    2. Short jav runways stink! The IAAF rule is 30 meters minimum.

    3. Far too many flat jav throws are marked for M50 – 59. The 700G spear was not subject to the 1986 rule change so it flies further and lands flat more often. However, it is just ridiculous to see a throw land, be counted as legal and be measured after sliding 5 to 10 feet.

    4. The shot ring used for the pent in Albuquerque did not have a metal band and was not recessed. This resulted in some gliders losing distance because they could not push-off the back of the ring.

    5. Throwers are not the only ones being disrespected. It seems that more often than not, 800 meter runners are not given the requisite 1-turn stagger and races can easliy have 12 – 15 people in them. Are we chopped liver, I do not see 400 meter races being contested this way!

    6. Anyone practicing gun starts should be DQ’d.

    7. Last, but not least, things that seem to good to be true or look unnatural, usually are! Long story short…masters athletes exhibiting the following characteristics neeed to be targeted for drug testing; hyper-developed muscles with no body fat, large muslces attached to small wrists & ankles, acne (shoulders, arms, back, chest), reddish/purple tinted skin, distended (bloated) & muscular abdomen.

  14. Ken Effler - September 23, 2011

    There are several key issues that lead to the problems listed above.

    -the USATF could care less about Masters track and field. Their first and foremost interest is open track and field and pre high school development (Junior Olympics). I’m sure we’d be better off as Masters athletes if we had our own organization, under the umbrella of the USATF, as high school and college track is now. I’m not saying that the priorities of the USATF are wrong, it’s just that Masters athletics doesn’t really fit their vision for USA track.

    -the bid process for the Masters championships is inadequate to serve the needs of the athletes. We’ve seen far too many fiasco’s in the last 5 years from poor timing to lousy facilities. The role of the games committee should be to secure great facilities, and run the meet themselves, rather than relying on a local organizing group that doesn’t understand the scope of the event, or cuts corners to make more profit on the venture.

    -the number of facilities that can adequately host a championship meet are limited. The best track and field venues in the US are located at colleges. Hayward Field in Oregon has become the defacto USA national track stadium. Will they bid on hosting the Masters meet-no. Will they rent the facility for a 4 day weekend meet-perhaps.

    At many Div. 2 and 3 schools the infield of the track is used for soccer and football and is often field turf. If the infield is grass, the AD’s often don’t want throwing events taking place so the grass isn’t filled with divots from the weight or hammer throws.

    There are some Div. 1 schools that have nice new track facilities. At U Mass Amherst, they have a new track with full field events in the infield. Auburn University has the same thing. I’m sure there are several other schools with similar facilities, but none will bid on our championship. That’s why its essential to scrap the current bid system and find ways to rent out these facilities for the meet.

    Until Masters track and field is divorced from the USATF I doubt anything will change (including the on going records fiasco)

  15. peter van aken - September 23, 2011

    I also support the intentions and comments of Jerry Bookin-Weiner.

  16. peter taylor - September 23, 2011

    Agree with Ken Effler (no. 14). Unless there is something I don’t know, the bid process is no good for masters T&F. Also, when I hear wishes expressed in this forum to “go back to Eugene” I have to think about how much things have changed.

    Here are the last 18 and the next 2 sites for outdoors. Each one that I consider a major university I will mark with an asterisk.

    1994 Univ of Oregon (Eugene)*
    1995 Michigan State University (East Lansing)*
    1996 Spokane (community college)
    1997 San Jose (city college)
    1998 Univ of Maine (Orono)*
    1999 Orlando (Disney)
    2000 Univ of Oregon (Eugene)*

    2001 Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge)*
    2002 Univ of Maine (Orono)*
    2003 Univ of Oregon (Eugene)*
    2004 Millikin University (Decatur)
    2005 Univ of Hawaii (Honolulu)*
    2006 University of North Carolina at Charlotte

    2007 Univ of Maine (Orono)*
    2008 Spokane (community college)
    2009 Univ of Wisconsin at Oshkosh
    2010 Calif State Univ at Sacramento
    2011 Baldwin Wallace College (Berea, Ohio)

    2012 Benedictine Univ (Lisle, Illinois)
    2013 Olathe, Kansas (district high school facility)

    Notice a pattern? Forget the big-name universities, forget Eugene. We are in a new era.

    Note: Only 4 national outdoors in the history of the program have drawn more than 1400 entrants:

    San Diego (1989)
    Eugene (1994)
    Eugene (2000)
    Sacramento (2010)

    That’s it. Only one in the last decade.

    Suggest a report that would be widely distributed at least 4 months before each outdoors (I will fill it in for Oshkosh 2009):

    Quality of the site for masters competition:

    Track: 98
    High jump and pole vault: 95
    Other jumps: 80
    Throws: 80

    That way, people would see what they are getting. From what I have seen, the 2011 site (Berea) would not have scored above a 5 (out of 100) for the throws.

  17. Weia Reinboud - September 23, 2011

    I did an exercise I wanted to do for a long time. The results of the European championships 2010 in Nyíregyháza give the starting time of every discipline and the finish time, so with hindsight we know exactly how long all competitions have taken.

    I made an excell with the three long throws, discus, hammer and javelin. This gives 60 competitions, which were held on 6 days in 2 stadia. The total number of throwers that actually threw is 701. Add half an hour to all competitions (25 minutes for walking in and preparation throws, five minutes for walking away), then they have lasted 94.23 hours. Competition days could be up to 12 hours long (from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening), so the whole throwing competition could have been done in 8 days in 1 stadium. The main stadium had grass, so during all runs the field could have been in use for throws.

    But that is not all. With hindsight we also know what the best throws were and which part of the field they actually used. As good athletics stadia have two cages and two javelin run-ups quite often two long throws can be done at the same time, as long as they do not throw far from both sides. The idea is to let young men and old women throw at the same time, together they use the whole field. Something like that. (As only few throwers actually are dangerous, add a safety judge who knows when to stop the competition from the other side for a minute.) After some jugling it turns out that during the best 39 competitions the remaining 21 competitions could have been done from the other side. Never the best throws from both sides add up to more than 80 meters now. (My home track has a field of 86 meters, the Daegu track had 100.) The whole competion than needs 68.70 hours, so in five and a half day it could have been done on one field.

    During the long throws shot put and weight throwing could have been done in two rings. The four jumps could have been done at the same time, so my guess is that in a week all field events (except for multi’s) could take place in the main stadium!!

  18. Stefan Waltermann - September 23, 2011

    I drove a fellow athlete to the surrealistic wasteland in Berea where he and others including officials survived and succeeded in a post apocalyptic environment. In my events, the javelin and the discus throw, I’m just one of the guys, cheerful, positive, encouraging under sometimes trying conditions, always separated from the limelight of the main venue, in total anonymity. I don’t care as long as I’m with my buddies, as long as I can throw. 

    In 2010 in Sacramento, I schlepped the Big Kahuna to the discus ring and begged him to improve the ring conditions. Only to be told that if the ring is good enough for a Olympic gold medal winner, it should be good enough for me. Consequently, I missed my dream of reaching 3,000 points in the pentathlon due to a lousy discus result on that $)&@#} ice ring. 

    I entered the discus competition at the worlds a year later either in the hope to find better conditions or in masochistic need of more suffering, I don’t know why. Nothing had changed and I suffered the consequences. What left me furious was the fate of fellow athletes from the US and from around the world. You dream, you set goals, you train, you prepare, you save money, you travel half way around the world. Three times you enter the ring, three foul throws, you never make the finals you alway make. Never fulfill your dream, not even a realistic goal. All due to calleous, non caring ignorants who call themselves experts. I have never seen that many empty faces, empty eyes in athletes as I have seen at the ring in Sacramento. Felt ashamed that I had not wiped the ring with that dude last year, who blew me off. 

    Still, man, do I love to throw!

  19. t-b - September 23, 2011

    I’m always grateful for the chance to throw. Loved the Sacramento rings because I practice on a fast ring that elite throwers use. Also, on a slower ring, and in the rain whenever I get a chance. Circles are never the same, I try to get used to adjusting.

  20. Scott Hannay - September 27, 2011

    Thank you Jerry. I have been a thrower since 1978 and I know all the things you stated for a fact. Throwers are normally relugated to a back field, away from the track. As a javelin thrower in the Northeast, that normally means an abandoned soccer field out in the ‘south 40′. I can truly say that the few times that I have been able to compete ‘inside the track’ in front of the crowd, I have performed much better. As athletes, we are there to perform and feed of the atmosphere of competition. It’s just not the same out behind the facility, away from the action.
    As far as Master’s competition’s are concerned, I have been to very few sites that truly impressed me from a thrower’s perspective. Orone, Maine maybe one of the best throwing facilities, but it’s remote
    for everyone. We do need a stronger voice in the selection of sites for National competitions. Maybe the big Throwing Clubs need to threaten a Boycott, if we end up with more sub-par facilities.

  21. Tim Edwards - September 27, 2011

    How many records were set in the shot and discus at Sacramento the last two years? probably none because of those ice rink rings they used. I boycotted Worlds because of those rings. I’m not paying thousands in travel costs to hit sub par distances because of the conditions. It would have taken 5 minutes of acid washing for each ring to have them up to par. I even emailed the Sacramento State throws coach to see if he could acid wash them and it was ignored. Total B.S. I will never step foot in Sacramento again

  22. Tim Edwards - September 27, 2011

    The problem is that officials and the higher up are concerned with the runners first and throws last. remember Charlotte and the 4 throws we got because they let 90 year olds run in 100% humidity. We paid for others stupid mistakes, but their running distances stayed the same. The same thing happened in New York at the World Police and Fire gmaes. We got 4 throws because of Hurricane Irene that had already passed. the runners didnt get their distances shortened. they still ran all their heats. Its thrower racism

  23. Neni - September 28, 2011

    Although I found the Hammer/Discus circle to be slick at Sacramento State, they were far better than the circles at Sacramento City College where some of the Throws Pentathlon events took place. I stepped on a wet towel which gave me traction & was able to break the hammer record twice in 2010. The circles at Sacramento City College were so atrocious that nothing could help. The hammer/discus circle was very slow & I had problems getting my feet going. The shotput circle was very rough and seemed like it had been there since before I was born in 1960. It is true, that when they want to speed up a meet or cut something out, the throwers are relegated to 4 throws & the nothing happens to the runners. The number of running events far outnumber the throwing events.

  24. Ace Bond - October 2, 2011

    @Peter Taylor (post#16)
    2013 Olathe, Kansas (district high school facility)

    Are they seriously holding the 2013 Championships at a high school track? Has this been confirmed – I do not see it listed on the USATF site. If that is the case – what outlet do we have to express our displeasure and petition for a change of venue. Has there been any serious talk of leaving USATF and joining forces with Nat’l Senior Games org or the WMA? The trend of sub-par facilities that you have listed is quite disturbing.

  25. peter taylor - October 4, 2011

    Yes, Ace, I am sure that Olathe has been confirmed. From Eugene in 1994, 2000, and 2003 to high school* in 2013. By 2018 we may be going to junior high.

    Write to the boss, Gary Snyder, or other members of the USATF Masters Committee.

    * Of course, it’s a district facility, whatever that means.

  26. Ace Bond - October 4, 2011

    I will definitely let a couple of e-mails fly. Obviously it will not make a difference for 2013 but maybe we can impact the 2014 selection. Are the NCCWMA Championships held in odd years? If yes, I may opt for that instead of US Championships in 2013. Happy Training Everyone!!!!

  27. peter taylor - October 5, 2011

    OK, Ace. Assume the NCCWMA champs are in odd years but have kind of lost track of that meet (have not announced it since 1996 in Eugene of all places).


  28. Juan A. "Crazy Legs" Garza - November 13, 2012

    Hello my name is Juan. I retire from the USMC next month on December 2nd. And after 28+ years I am ready to get back into the competition again! I ran 29:12 for 10K, a 1:08 1/2 marathon and won the 1996 nationals Masters Track & Field in Springfield,Oregon in the 10K and 2nd in the 5k. I broke my left knee trying to qualify in the Marathon in 1988 in Las Vegas but, broke my knee at the half way mark (it was freaky). but, since then recovered very well and ready to burn the road again. I will be 61 on December 28th (next month) and have run a 19:43 5k this past August. Looking to join a great running club.

    Thank you all for your time.


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