Masters records were denied national champs, London Olympians

It’s an article of faith that a record set at masters nationals is a slam dunk for ratification. Not this year. It’s also conventional wisdom that if your name is Charles Allie, Bob Lida, Jim Barrineau, Marie-Louise Michelsohn, Renee Henderson, Amy Acuff or Jamie Nieto, your marks are as good as gold. Think again. Those established stars and M35 newcomer Donelle Dunning were dissed at the Daytona annual meeting when their names were left off the final records list. The USATF masters indoor and outdoor records were updated Dec. 19, and many records remain nonsense. Have a seat.

Amy Acuff at age 36 jumped 6-4 3/4 to make her fifth Olympic team, but the W35 American record remains Jane Frederick’s 6-1¼ from 1988.

Donelle Dunning, a sprint coach with the Chattanooga Jets Track Club, was hailed as the American record holder for 60 meters after beating the listed AR of 6.98 at Bloomington nationals with a 6.95 in the prelims and 6.93 in the finals. USATF itself said he got the record. But his name is nowhere to be seen on the official list from Dayton. What’s with that?

Charles Allie, already a sprint legend, celebrated turning 65 by setting WRs in the 200 and 400. But his marks from a Potomac Valley auto-timed meet didn’t pass muster either. What’s with that?

Bob Lida does get credit for records set at nationals in his IAAF Best Master season. But his best indoor times weren’t noted in the records report. What’s with that?

Jim Barrineau held the M55 outdoor AR for a few months before Willie Banks blasted his 6-footer in San Diego. But no outdoor AR recognition for Jim. WWT?

Marie-Louise Michelsohn traveled across the country to crush the W70 WR for 10K by 31 seconds. No record shown.

World champ Renee Henderson in May lowered her own W45 American record for 200. No mention in final list.

W35 Amy Acuff, making her fifth Olympic team at 6-4 3/4, and M35 Jamie Nieto, also making the London team, both crushed their listed age-group records at Eugene but are absent from the USATF masters records books. (And Jamie’s best seasonal mark of 7-7 was even better than his Trials jump.) The listed marks? Jane Frederick’s 6-1¼ from 1988 and Jim Barrineau‘s 7-0 1/2 from 1992. Completely unacceptable.

I could go on. Neni Lewis, Kevin Castille, Mike Blackmore and Ken Ernst also were denied records. Maybe yours, too.

The shame of masters records continues.

I am writing USATF Masters T&F Chairman Gary Snyder and USATF masters records chair Sandy Pashkin for an explanation.

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December 27, 2012

66 Responses

  1. peter taylor - December 28, 2012

    Interesting report, Ken, thank you for this. I will address only the issue of Donelle Dunning, as it may be the most straightforward.

    Well before the Bloomington nationals, Donelle (age 37) provided a copy of either his birth certificate or passport. We know this because he was accepted as a competitor, and this is what USATF required. He traveled from Tennessee to Bloomington, Indiana, and on the second day of the meet he ran the preliminary round in the M35 60 dash. Donelle bettered the listed American record of 6.98 seconds by running 6.95.

    We know he ran 6.95 because of this line in the official results:

    Dunning, Donelle ……………..R 6.95Q

    Several hours later, Donelle won the finals in 6.93, another record. We can confirm this through the following line at USATF website:

    Dunning, Donelle ……………..6.93R

    Apparently, all of this was not enough to get Donelle the M35 record, as the USATF website says today:

    35-39 6.98 Mitchell Lovett …….1998 – Mar 28.

    Apparently, it can be harder than advertised to get an American record when you set it at nationals.

  2. Gary Dixon - December 28, 2012

    WHAT!!!!

  3. Mary Harada - December 28, 2012

    not much new here – year after year records are set – apparently – but not accepted for reasons known only to ….. No dot over the i, not a clear cross on the T – not a certified track – whatever that means, no rail around the track, the orange cones were not set at the proper intervals. I am still holding on to papers from an AR I set in Providence RI for the W 75 3k track race. Just saw no point in wasting postage mailing it in. One of these days it will go in the shredder.
    As I am 2 1/2 years away from a new age group I have plenty of time to consider if I will bother to send in paper work should I be able to best some W80 track records.
    Time to get a new system for accepting/rejecting records. Other countries seem to have fewer problems, it should not be left in the hands of one person who apparently cannot or will not communicate clearly what happens and why.

  4. Roger Pierce - December 28, 2012

    Unfortunately, folks like Bob Lida, Charlie Allie, Amy Acuff and all the others who were not approved will probably not comment on this situation, because it seems to be an exercise in futility.
    We need transparency and communication involving this issue. If there is a reasonable explanation…..let’s hear it.
    Silence only exacerbates the situation.
    All of us in USA Masters Track and Field, have a right to know how and why these decisions are made.
    Records are a source of pride to all of us, and it is disrespectful to all competitors to be kept in the dark about decisions, particularly when the record was set at a USA National competition.
    We want standards and protocol followed, but we also want answers….now would be a nice time to start getting them!!!

  5. Anonymous - December 28, 2012

    http://nccwma.com/about.php

    Sandys contact info from NCCWMA website

  6. Nolan Shaheed - December 28, 2012

    Unfortunately we have no control on our own running fate no matter how hard we try to play by the rules.

    In February ,I set an American record in the outdoor 3000meters at a sanctioned meet but they couldn’t get certification by the surveyor of the track so it wasn’t allowed.

    A week later I traveled to a sanctioned, regional indoor masters championships meet and set a world record in the 1500 meters but they didn’t have a photo of the race so it wasn’t allowed.

    In April I went to a sanctioned meet and ran a world record in the outdoor 3000meters but the clock malfunctioned so it wasn’t allowed.

    Two weeks after that, I went to a sanctioned Regional Masters championships meet and set an American record in the 3000meters and I haven’t heard why, but it wasn’t allowed.

    I now almost understand why Pete McGill has decided not to bother with record setting paperwork, but I would like to have credit for all the hard work I’ve put in training and the enormous amount of money I’ve spent traveling cross the country to attend meets that are sanctioned, so I can get recognition for my work.

  7. peter taylor - December 28, 2012

    Wow, Nolan, that is quite a story. In terms of your second example, I will tell you what I learned from the top FAT person in the U.S., a story I have told too many times, unfortunately. He told me that he had NEVER had to send in a photo for an American or world record. Two of the meets he worked in 2012 were the Penn Relays and the Olympic Trials.

    So…I would ask the masters records committee whether the official result of the meet would be sufficient for a record application.

  8. Warren Graff - December 28, 2012

    This is getting more interesting (and depressing) by the hour. Why would a photo of the race be required? aren’t the results and approved entry sufficient?? and what is the difference between a sanctioned meet and track certification? one would think that if it’s a sanctioned meet, then the track is automatically up to standard. The process would be more clear to the rest of us if we could see what the form looks like that is submitted for a record (is it on the USATF website somewhere?) just trying to help

  9. Mary Harada - December 28, 2012

    I have had photos of the clock sent to Sandy Pashkin along with all the other stuff required for a record – only to hear NOTHING about why the record was disallowed. Sometimes I hear things like- no curb around the inside of the track, no cones around the track, not a “sanctioned track” – whatever the *&^^ that means, etc etc etc. There is always some reason apparently to disallow a record but we never hear from the record Tsar – so it is impossible to know how the game is to be played.
    I tried twice to get a AR for the W75 3k outdoor, once the forms were sent, once it is still sitting on my desk – so I give up. Yet I wonder just how carefully the record keeping was when the original record was set back in the 1980’s – no FAT timing then, no photos, probably no curb around the track and not certified track.
    Indeed i understand why Pete McGill gave up on trying to set records, and Nolan – my sympathy -you have been royally screwed.

  10. Warren Graff - December 28, 2012

    Nolan – how did you find out why these records were rejected? did someone contact you on their own, or did you have to inquire yourself? I’m asking so we can better understand how this process works. Also, where is the form located that is submitted (for recognition of the record)? thanks

  11. mike travers - December 28, 2012

    Here is the link for Masters records…http://www.usatf.org/statistics/Record-Forms/Masters-Forms.aspx

    Mike Travers

  12. peter taylor - December 28, 2012

    Warren, Mike Travers beat me to it, and thus I will answer one of your other questions the best I can. You can go to a sanctioned meet and later find out that the track was substandard, that any records set there will be rejected.

    Furthermore, and I am getting on thin ice here, you may find that your record was rejected because there has been no formal verification that the track IS suitable for records, not that it is substandard per se.

    In terms of notification, you may never be notified that your record was turned down. It’s like applying for a job; in some cases, employers never tell you that they took someone else.

    For masters T&F (American records), at some point in December you can look at the USATF website to see whether you made it.

  13. Weia Reinboud - December 28, 2012

    When you have a record performance please write a note on wikipedia with all details. Someone will add it to the tables and so at least there it is in the list.
    World’s outdoor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world_records_in_masters_athletics
    American outdoor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_records_in_masters_athletics

    In my country I can in advance look up whether a track is certified or not. Eventually I can decide to do that meet nevertheless, because the record committe will look up if my discipline is influenced by the track’s irregularities. As we do not live on rocks overhere a track can be not perfectly horizontally after some years, about every five year it has to be tested. My national record javelin W60 was on a non certified track, but for the javelin there only was something wrong with the white lines along the run up. Record approved.

  14. jeff davison - December 28, 2012

    As a side, there is a Wikipedia Masters Records page.

  15. Joe - December 28, 2012

    Nolan:
    I can understand your frustration about all of he money you spend going to meets to race well and if you do and even manage to get a record, it might not matter! How can that be? Just a while ago, there was a thread doing some debate on why the USATF Masters meets do not get more participants…Perhaps all of this nonsense is part of the matter. Very few of us go to set records, but when all of us see the dumb stuff that goes on to our elite masters, why should the rest of us support these meets? If a person is a distance runner, just go run some road race. Poor throwers, jumpers, and sprinters! They take our money for these meets, but can not give credit where credit is due! Maybe time to boycott USATF meets!

  16. Nolan Shaheed - December 29, 2012

    Hi Warren.
    The meet director told me he never submitted the paperwork after he couldn’t get certification from the surveyor-

    The regional director told me about the lack of photo after contacting the meet director and Sandy-

    The FAT operator told me that at the start of the race the sun was out but at the conclusion of the race the sun went down and the camera wasn’t set for low light so the picture didn’t come out-

    I haven’t been able to find out anything about the 3000 record set at the Striders meet at Cerritos college in April featuring Pete McGil and some of the best middle distance runners in the country.

  17. Bob Lida - December 29, 2012

    Well, I’m hesitant to get involved in this, becasue I am involved. But, I do think that there needs to be some sembalance of continunity with the rest of the world. My indoor records were ignored by USA officials becasue I did not have a finish line photo. Had everything else, including signatures from people who surveyed the track. It was quite a hassle. The meet was NCAA sancationed, had automatic timing — and if any NCAA records would have been set — they would have counted. However, the timers did njot archive the finish photos. I pointed out to USA officials that the WMA does not require a finish line photo in their record application — but it seems to make no difference.
    I have head nothing back from USA the folks. WMA officials have told me to submit the record appication directly to them, and they would handle it. Something seems very wrong about all of this. A record is a record, and if it is set in a legitiamte meet, it should be counted. Without all the hassle we are asked to go through. In talking with athletes from other countries, they do have the same hassles we do. Let’s fix it.

  18. Anthony Treacher - December 29, 2012

    Circumstances and irrational prejudice unfortunately come into it. The British masters records setup itself is OK, very efficient. However certain BMAF Committee members wanted to deny me a British LJ record because of my conflict with BMAF. I found that utterly appalling.

  19. peter taylor - December 29, 2012

    @ Bob Lida (no. 17 at this point):

    Bob, I am glad you came aboard. The “records test” for masters T&F should be designed for high sensitivity (i.e., accepts almost all legitimate records) as well as high specificity (discards what look to be apparent records but which are found to be illegitimate).

    What we have right now in masters T&F is a test with extremely low sensitivity (all sorts of legitimate marks, even some set at nationals, are found to be “not records”) but high specificity (labels almost all applications for bogus records as illegitimate). In fact, we approve very few illegitimate applications (perhaps some in the men’s pole vault in years gone by), and that is a good thing.

    How can we improve the sensitivity of the masters “test”? First, eliminate those requirements that drive sensitivity down. I nominate the finish photo and the starter’s signature.

    But wait, people might say, the chief of FAT might misread the photo. I say that is unlikely, and I argue that it must be balanced against the huge number of record applications that die because of lack of a photo. When you insist on a photo you drive out a ton of legitimate records.

    The starter’s signature: I have processed perhaps 100+ records over the years. In all of that time I have never, even once, had a starter refuse to sign. And if it’s a decent meet the starter/s will call the runners back if someone jumps. One has to presume it was a fair start, and if it wasn’t, do you think any starter in America will say on the form “I let them go early”? No. And so why do we have this test?

    Others will disagree, but the key is, as noted above, to identify the true records and disregard the false. Without question, the current system does not work for the former.

    I also believe that the records committee should have 11 members, with at least 8 votes required for approval.

    Are my ideas radical? Well, does anyone have a better system?

    Finally, designation as a record means at least two things: (1) We believe this to be the best legitimate mark; (2) this performance did happen. People often forget about marks that lose out in the records process, and over the years the performances can be forgotten.

    For example, I was just looking at the results for the 2007 Mt. SAC Relays. In event 620, section 1, Aaron Thigpen ran 10.60 FAT (wind legal) in the 100-m dash. Because the mark was never accepted as an M40 American record, many/most people have forgotten about it. That is a shame, because we should treasure the great performances of our masters, not consign them to oblivion.

  20. Jim Burgoyne - December 29, 2012

    I can understand a record not being listed if it’s not submitted. They are not automatic. there is a process to follow. I’ve been involved with ths submittion of records and you have to go thru the motions.

    Just because a record is broken doesn’t mean it will be recognized. I’m fine with this process. I would agree that there needs to be an answer as to why a record is not accepted. No answer is unacceptable.

  21. Pete Magill - December 29, 2012

    Well, I feel a little bad. In Men’s 50-54, Ken Ernst originally broke the 20-year-old American 5000 record with a 15:34. Then Mike Blackmore broke the record with a 15:16. Then I broke it with a 15:11 and a 15:06. Unfortunately, neither Ken nor Mike submitted paperwork after I ran faster than them, even though I informed them I wouldn’t be going through the record process. So that’s kind of a screw-up based upon my own refusal to participate in this “records” system.

    On the other hand, I ran 15:05 in a sanctioned, certified road 5K, and although I warned the race director not to bother submitting the paperwork for the American M50-54 record, he went ahead and did it (at the urging of So Cal USATF). You’ll notice that the American M50-54 record for the road 5K is NOT 15:05. And never will be. Because the paperwork has somehow vanished. And the race director is now smart enough not to bother submitting it a second time.

  22. Ken stone - December 29, 2012

    Sandy Pashkin has not responded to my query, but I’m happy to giver her all the time she needs.

    I hope her thoughts are more helpful than those of 2006:
    http://masterstrack.com/2006/09/2897/

  23. Ty Brown - December 29, 2012

    Wow, I never knew this issue was so wide spread. When I set the world standard of 15.26 for the M65 100 short hurdles in 2010 at Charlotte, NC I was given a lot of excuses, and told a lot of different things by meet officials. This was my first record outdoors. I thought things would be as smooth as when the indoor standard was set in Boston. Not to be. As Roger Pierce wrote, “records are a source of pride to all of us.” To be denied is very frustrating. I was a witness to Charles Allie’s two world marks under not so ideal conditions (cold and rain). It is a shame that the records are not recognized. THINGS MUST IMPROVE.

  24. Bill Zink - December 29, 2012

    On Thursday night I watched the Jesse Owens Awards on NBCSN. The show was taped on December 1st in Daytona. At the beginning of the show they showed highlights of 2012 and even showed some clips of masters. During the masters clips they said masters athletes set 172 age group National records in 2012. Wonder how many actually got approved.

  25. Fidel - December 29, 2012

    Any response from Mr. Snyder?

  26. bob - December 29, 2012

    from the outside looking in it seems to be that basically the national body wants masters to get so mad they go away. Just less hassle for them. As a cyclist we had a similar problem in cycling. Although masters actually brought in alot of money the national federation thought that masters were a joke. Even worse some masters were tending to beat the elite athletes. Two masters were in danger of making the Olympic team so the rules were quickly changed to make them do a qualifying race the day before the olympic trials and they still almost won.
    It is hard to hype up and coming athletes when 40 year olds are a threat. Think about it, we have 40 year olds closer to breaking the 4 minute mile than all but a few high school wunderkinds. You can’t say the athletes and training that is funded by donations is really working when the young guns have a hard time beating older athletes. So they want the older athletes to go away so the young ones look better.

  27. Richard Rizzo - December 30, 2012

    Bob, comment #26 From the outside looking in as you just mentioned with is over and done with in “Master’s Track”… No where can you compare from 1975 to 1999 . There were such great teams from all over the country . Hey, I am from N.Y. and we had to have run offs to make a relay team.. I am talking about the NY.Pioneer’s Ed Small, Glen Shane, Mason O’neal, Rudy Valentine,Artur Gaton, Arnold Budd. Chipper Robinson. Dee Wee and all the Pioneers were dedicated and loved everything about athletics. Athletes who ran because it was in their blood.. Because for the simple reason there were so many other great team competitors out there . Philadelpia Pioneers, With all thier great atletes Potamac Valley.. With Larry Colbert… Alby Williams.. Ralph Romain.. Kenny Baker .. Dawson Pratt.. Then the Teams from Ca. Gary Miller.. Bill Knocke.. Harold Tolson. Paul Edens, Bob Lida, I can go on and on .. We competed because we loved every minute form the time we started to go to the meet till we finished our ride all the way home from all over the country.. Records are made to be broken and when they are they without any resonable doubt should be accepted without all the tumoil that has been going on for so many years. Any and I mean any Athlete who breaks a record should go in the record books immeidiatly…Simple as that.. It is almost 2013.. Like we say In the Bronx,NY Do the right thing!!! Rizz

  28. Ken stone - December 30, 2012

    Hi, Fidel. Any response I get from Gary or Sandy will be posted ASAP. Gary also posts comments here. Longtime readers of this blog are aware that Gary has promised improvements in our records system. My modest suggestion was to emulate the fish: USA Masters Swimming, who vett records in days and update their age group records online soon after. If USATF had similar system, the annual shock of missed records would be avoided.

  29. Ken stone - December 30, 2012

    http://masterstrack.com/2009/03/163/

    Review my interview with masters swimming records czar.

  30. Gary Snyder - December 30, 2012

    Hi Everybody,

    I’m on a bit of Holiday – look for something meaningful by the Friday.

    Gary Snyder
    National Chair
    USATF Masters T&F

  31. Liz Palmer - December 30, 2012

    We should be streamlining this process and making it easier and more transparent. There are so many concerns about growing our sport and the dwindling numbers at the national championship meets. When records are broken, it’s a good thing! Record-breaking performances create excitement and interest. They give local newspapers something to write about, which in turn gives masters track more exposure to the public.

  32. jeff davison - December 30, 2012

    I know of atleast one masters “stud” that will never compete again in masters meets after years and years of frustration. He still trains. But refuses to compete.

    What a loss.

  33. John Stilbert - December 31, 2012

    While we’re on the subject of records. If it survives one more track season, Amy Acuff’s high school high jump record of 6’4″ (tied once) will turn 20 years old on August 28th next year. Pretty impressive.

  34. John - December 31, 2012

    I have asked this before when this topic came up. What are we waiting for? Why do we NEED Sandy to update lists of records?? Ken and Peter would do a fine job putting together such a list that most of us would respect and be happy with that. Don’t need some ivory tower officials and attorneys to give their blessings. If the meet was sanctioned and had F.A.T, that’s fine with me. Post the site and date. DONE!! How many reading this post would be eager to see the current list updated with the new deserving record holders names in place of the old? Does anybody care if “the Great and Powerful Sandy” doesn’t sign off on it? Any purists out there who’d rather stare at the current list containing outdated records, and wait, wait, wait…. knock yourselves out!

  35. jeff davison - December 31, 2012

    John, there is already a list on wiki

  36. Anthony Treacher - January 1, 2013

    John. You write “Don’t need some ivory tower officials and attorneys to give their blessings.” But that is exactly what we do need (and what we have.) It is the basic requirement. For instance there has to be a single WMA officer responsible and sign off that a performance is a world record. Otherwise there would be real chaos.

    The sheer volume of record applications is the problem. This must be a really thankless task if you are getting criticized for it. Maybe Ms Pashkin is inclined to hand over either the US masters records or the WMA world records to someone else?

  37. Ken stone - January 1, 2013

    A committee of one — as the USATF Masters Records Committee is now structured — is inherently flawed. I haven’t seen a call for volunteers. Why not?

  38. peter taylor - January 1, 2013

    I agree with Ken that we need more than a committee of 1, in large part because I agree with Anthony T. that there are too many applications (“sheer volume”). As I indicated in an earlier post I believe there should be a masters record committee of 11, not 1.

    Assignments for the committee members would be sprints and hurdles (2 members), middle distance, long distance, racewalk, shot and discus, all other throws, jumps (2 members), and combined events … well, that makes 10. Plus the chair.

    The brilliance of this setup is that members of the committee would intensely follow their areas and would soon be known nationally to the masters T&F community. If in 2013 someone in M55 runs the 100 in 11.43 FAT the appropriate committee member would be aware of the performance almost before the sprinter in question had left the stadium (Bill Collins has the record at 11.44).

    Very soon, perhaps after a day or two, we would see 11.43 (P) on the website. When the committee got around to voting, perhaps once a month, the “(P)” could be dropped to indicate this was a new record.

    What’s that, you say, the committee would be quick to confirm new marks? No, not at all, as members would be selected based on their good jugment, knowledge of the masters T&F program, etc.

    As things stand now, a sprinter who sets an American masters mark in the 60 at Landover nationals (that race will be run on March 23, 2013) will have to wait 9 months to see whether she/he is confirmed at the December 2013 annual USATF meeting in Indianapolis. In the modern era, that is way too long.

    Note also that Rule 261.5 of the USATF Rules of Competition permits masters to have their records approved without a formal application if they achieved the marks at the Olympic Games, Olympic Trials, indoor masters nationals, outdoor masters nationals, etc. With a committee of 11 it would be much easier to see that this rule is followed. Mr. Donelle Dunning (see Ken’s main post) is hardly the first athlete in indoor masters nationals in recent years to be stopped dead in his tracks after setting a mark there.

  39. Kenneth Effler - January 1, 2013

    Peter’s suggestion seems to be a common sense solution to the problem. I think other well know meets such as the Penn Relays should be added to the list of meets that would not require a formal application for a record. If this approach was taken it would certainly streamline the process, but still maintain the level of integrity required.

  40. Jim S - January 1, 2013

    I set some records in 2007…800 USA, 1500 USA/WR, Mile USA, 800 USA/WR, mile USA. The meets were the Occidental Invitational and Jim Bush Invitational at Occidental College; The American Milers Club Meets at Indiana University; and an Elite Mile race in the Middle of a USATF Youth Track Meet at Benedictine College in Lisle, IL. All records were accepted at years end.
    I don’t remember all the details, but I know I called and/or emailed (I think it was Sandy each time) BEFORE the meets and asked questions about the process. I wanted to make sure I did everything correctly. I also informed the meet director weeks before and also the day of the race. I also located and talked to the FAT operators before the race to let them know I would need a copy of the photo finish and their sigs. I brought copies of the record form with me and after the race I took the time to get sigs, even if that meant waiting till they had a spare minute. I had to follow up with one official via email to get his USATF officials number. He didn’t have it with him. I also included a set of the results and the meet program. If there was no program, I sent a copy of the heat sheets and/or meet flyer/advertisement.

    I do remember discussing at least the Occidental tracks certification with Sandy. I don’t remember the answer, but I think I was informed that track was fine. I don’t recall any conversations or emails about the other tracks. I found this email that I sent to Ken Stone back in 2007…
    “Ken, I submitted the last three (the Indiana marks) two days ago via mail. Everything was signed except the track surveyor items, which is somewhat impossible to do. I believe I discussed this with her at one time and she indicated that as long as it is a USATF certified meet, then it’s good. Not sure if the American Milers Club meets were certified, but IU has hosted NCAA’s, conferences, and maybe regionals and it has been the place of OT qualifying marks. So it should be OK. I was very thorough with what I had to do.”

    One problem I remember with the process was that the record application form available online had an old mailing address on it. Luckily, I discovered this and was able to mail it to the correct location. I do remember wondering how an invalid address could be listed on a record form. I believe I informed Sandy and USATF of this. I assume it was corrected immediately, but who knows. I don’t remember it all, it was 5+ years ago, but I was definitely shaking my head on that one…

    I would suggest to anyone pursuing a record to communicate with Sandy and any other necessary USATF person well BEFORE the meet. Ask point by point questions about the record application form. Then speak with the meet director, photo finish person, etc. before and/or during the meet. I would also ask Sandy and the meet director questions about the track certification, since this seems to be a sticking point. Make sure you have everything in line and PLEASE DO SUBMIT the record application form. No matter how frustrated you may be about the process or believe it is pointless b/c they will deny it, please do indeed follow all procedures and submit it. If someone doesn’t submit it, then they really should not complain about an incomplete records page.
    Lastly, based on some of the stories posted above, I will admit that I was fortunate that my records were accepted. However, I did a lot of “leg work” to make sure they were. If I can train hard and race hard, then I certainly can work hard post race (and pre race) to fulfill all obligations for record ratification. I can imagine that some of the records have not been recognized due poor paperwork and a lack of follow through on the record setters part. If so, shame on them. Unfortunately, some records have not been ratified due USATF’s seemingly convoluted, subjective, and/or inconsistent review process, or at best their sound reasons masked in a lack of transparency. When so, shame on them.

  41. Bubba Sparks - January 1, 2013

    I’m not really at the level where I have to worry about WRs but I have atempted several ARs. I just don’t care because I know the system is crap. I’ll get the mark posted and let it go. If it sticks it sticks and if not, big deal. Can’t win in politics, war or masters records.

  42. peter taylor - January 2, 2013

    Congratulations, Jim S., you were really dogged, and you succeeded. Ironically, from your account it seems like the athlete has a better chance at a mid-sized meet than at a big meet unless some special measures are taken by meet management.

    For example, at Penn Relays 2010, there were more than 54,000 spectators on Saturday alone (Usain Bolt was running), and security was extremely heavy. Imagine setting a masters mark in the 100 on that day and then going around to collect signatures from the starter, the FAT people, the referee, etc. Not an issue of difficulty; the word would be impossibility.

    Furthermore, there is no way the athlete could speak to the FAT people at Penn Relays before the attempt or get their signatures afterward (they are in an area that is off-limits to athletes). And yet bettering a record at Penn Relays does not convey automatic acceptance. (Note: Several years ago, Penn designated a meet official to process applications, an excellent move.)

    A different kind of meet that is not big in size but important to masters is represented by our nationals. From everything I have heard the athlete is counseled to let the designated official(s) take care of things. After the record is thrown out in December the athlete is left to wonder “what happened?”

    In conclusion, Jim S., I think you have made some excellent suggestions for the mid-sized meets.

  43. Weia Reinboud - January 2, 2013

    I heard that in Europe the record keeper will be upgraded to a statistical committee of about five, with interesting names in it.

  44. peter taylor - January 2, 2013

    Short note to my post above (no. 42): I meant to say that the Penn Relays meet director, Dave Johnson, appointed an official to process masters records only. If the next meet director does not appoint such an official, we will be back “in the soup.”

  45. mike travers - January 2, 2013

    It would be advisable for any athlete with notions of setting any AR/WR to carefully choose what meets in which to compete. Not all meets are created equal, obviously. Talk to your association Masters TF Chair or President, maybe even the meet director. Make sure that the meet is prepared to host a record attempt. Caveat Emptor!

    Mike Travers
    USATF-New England Masters TF Chair

  46. Pete Magill - January 4, 2013

    Jim S – I appreciate your take on this, but I respectively disagree. It is admirable that you did so much legwork to prepare for your record attempts, and that meet directors (and Sandy) were so eager to assist you in both your quest and the paperwork afterward. But you were a recent top open runner, whose name was recognizable to the meet directors, still competing well in open events, attempting M40 records in popular events, and still “young” enough to plan and train for peak performances at specific meets.

    In other words, you were in a position to get a red carpet treatment that simply isn’t available to most masters athletes attempting to set records.

    I’d also like to suggest a few things in counter-argument:

    1) A “record” is the best legitimate performance in an event by a qualified athlete. If I run the fastest American men’s 50-54 time ever in the 5000, and if I’m an American man aged 50-54 and the meet is legit (say, the Southern California USATF track championships), then that’s the record. Your suggestion that the “shame” is on me because I choose not to participate in the humiliating process of USATF’s current record ratification procedure doesn’t change the fact that no American man aged 50-54 has run faster. Paperwork doesn’t set records; athletes set records.

    2)It’s much harder to predict fitness or record performances as we get older. We don’t just pick a meet and set the record. Since I’ve turned 50, an interesting thing has happened: my weight unpredictably balloons 5-6 pounds (inflammation from harder training) throughout periods of racing. As a 5000 runner, this means I can feel record-fit on Monday, then be 20-25 seconds slower by the following weekend – I know, it happened last spring … 3 times! So I can’t do the legwork ahead of time for record attempts, because I never know when they’re going to happen!

    3) Until you’ve had to beg – over and over and over – for meet directors to help process your paperwork, until you’ve had to spend months doing this begging, imploring directors to get that final signature, pleading with them to submit the paperwork in time for ratification, you have no idea how humiliating the current record-ratification process can be. Nothing takes the joy out of setting a record like having the people responsible for processing it treat your paperwork like an unwelcome chore. Like garbage that needs to be taken out. Like a trip to the dentist.

    4) You haven’t tried for road race records. I’ve run faster than my American age group record at 5K and 10K on certified courses with chip timing and back-up hand-timing four times. Did the paperwork to the best of my ability each time. Have zero records.

    5) Pretending slow times are better than fast times doesn’t make the slow times “records.” Pretending lesser marks trump better marks doesn’t make lesser marks “records.” Instead, it delegitimizes all records. It takes the ability to set records out of athletes’ hands and puts that ability into the hands of paper-pushers. I don’t mean to demean those who volunteer the time and energy involved in processing record paperwork, but the fact remains that nothing they do changes whether a performance was a record. Pretending that it does is a slap in the face to athletes who worked their ass off for months and years to set those marks.

    What we need is a better system. There’s no reason why reporting a record should be any more difficult than reporting times to the Masters rankings.

    For track, USATF could maintain a list of sanctioned meets with tracks that meet record specifications. When we enter a record result, we choose the meet from a drop-down menu, enter our time and personal info, and provide a link to results. USATF can email the race director for confirmation that all was done according to USATF rules – and a copy of the FAT photo if desired. Age verification (for those not already verified by USATF) can be done via email (attach age docs). Done.

    For road records, a simple form (as opposed to the ridiculous one now used) with our personal info, course certification number, distance and time, race director signature, one signature from head timer, and a link to results. Done. Oh, and no sanctioning requirement (meaningless in road races).

    For meets or races that don’t meet these simple guidelines, the complicated paperwork process could be maintained as a fallback.

    Seriously, let’s stop pretending that “records” are what people who didn’t do the record-setting say they are. Let’s put setting records back into the athletes’ hands.

  47. Weia Reinboud - January 4, 2013

    Pete @3: this asks for some education and civilisation, and/or a guideline by your federation. When I started breaking records some 15 years ago there were some unwilling officials (‘come back later’), but after they learned that those oldies keep breaking records they learned a lot. I never anymore hit upon officials like that, anybody will have a better day after friendly conversation. Now it even happens that a race director runs to me shouting ‘someone inexpetedly broke a masters record, do you perhaps have a form?’

    I am curious how your application forms look. I only break records in technical disciplines and maybe that’s simpler. I fill in some basic stuff and then have to collect three signs: judge of the high jump, referee of the jumps, race director. The rest is done by the record committee. At nationals I even haven’t to collect the signs, it is done by the organisers for all masters records of the championship. At international championships I even have nothing to do, our national team managers do everything for us.

  48. Anthony Treacher - January 5, 2013

    I have great sympathy and understanding for the views expressed here. But. Unless we are agreed on the basic principles – the practical ideology – of record-keeping, this debate will get nowhere. It will be a complete waste of time, as usual. Can we agree on the following?

    Athletes and athletics meets cannot determine a record. That is the responsibility of the national or WMA accredited and responsible records officer.

    Athletics meets cannot be expected take on the task of notifying records on behalf of the athlete. (Which is not to rule out that some meets may do that.) That is the responsibility of the athlete.

    The accredited records officer must acknowledge communications within 14 days.

    The accredited records officer must inform the athlete why a record application has been disallowed.

    The accredited records officer is answerable to the President or Chairman of his/her track and field Association or Federation.

    Does everyone – including the accredited records officer – agree on the above principles? Sorry to have to be a little direct here but otherwise we will get nowhere.

  49. Anthony Treacher - January 5, 2013

    In para 3 above, for ‘notifying records on behalf of the athlete’ read: ‘notifying record-breaking results on behalf of the athlete.’

    Happy New Year.

  50. Nolan Shaheed - January 5, 2013

    If a record is set at a particular meet, only TWO people benefit from it. The athlete of course and the meet director because it makes his meet more credible.
    The meet director purchased the track and should know if is has been surveyed.He gets him meet sanctioned. He hires the starter, timer, and clerk, all whom HAVE to sign the record application. The athlete does not have to sign the app.He just has to run faster than anyone else in the history of the world.

    I would like the meet directer, or someone he has assigned, to deal with those he has hired since the athlete doesn’t know if the starter has taken a 3 hour break after the race and has been replaced by another.Or the timer has the proper equipment ect.

    If 8 people set records at a particular meet, it would be stupid to have them individually run around, trying to get paper work done while the meet is going on

    I ONLY run in sanctioned meets and ALWAYS notify the director that I’m going for a record, yet only half of my efforts are ever ratified because of one or two flaws in the system.

  51. Anthony Treacher - January 5, 2013

    Nolan. I do not agree with you. Not only must you run faster than anyone in the history of the world but you also have the ultimate responsibility of getting those signatures on the record application form and ensuring that it is sent to the records officer.

    That is the only practical way of doing it. You must understand that. We must all understand that.

    You have various ways of ensuring that the completed record application form etc., gets to your records officer. Of course you cannot always get hold of all the officials on the same day, during the meet, or immediately after the meet. The officials signed up to officiate. That is their prime task. Not records. Otherwise we will have even more difficulty in getting meet officials.

    On the bright side – the meet officials have a clear duty and obligation to sign your record application form. But only when it is convenient for the meet official and the meet director. While that may not be on the day of the meet, as you probably have experienced, these one day pesky meet officials may be only too pleased to do it afterwards, even on the next day and even complete it all and send it in for you. That has been my positive experience of meet officials.

    If the meet officials eventually fail to do their job, you must chase them, complain to your federation, etc. But it is still the ultimate responsibilty of the athlete to see that his or her paperwork gets to the records officer. We all have to agree on that. Otherwise no records system will work.

  52. Gary Snyder - January 5, 2013

    Hi Everybody,

    Thanks to all who have offered constructive criticism, some good ideas and well other types of comments. This is an annual issue that I have been unable to improve. This year there will be a change. Jeff Brower the MTF web guru has volunteered to assist me in developing an online status system to provide information for everyone to see for pending record applications.

    See you on the track.

    Gary Snyder
    Chair
    USATF Masters T&F

  53. Nolan Shaheed - January 5, 2013

    Actually Anthony I agree with you as I alway dug your coments and practical logic. But have accepted the responsibility for twenty years but have 14 records that have gone unrecognized so my suggestions are out of frustration more than practical logic.

    As Pete Magil will tell you, if you come within a hundredth of a second from breaking a record,it’s as if you never ran that race and if someone breaks your record by a hundredth of a second, your record is eraced and it becomes as if you never ran it. So that little bit of temporary fame can be very important or not worth the trouble.

  54. Stephen Robbins - January 6, 2013

    Hey Gary,
    An online status system only addresses part of the problem–that dealing with communication. Per the above comments, we need to do something about the record process/paperwork itself. If we can “automatically” approve record performances set at Nationals and Worlds, why can’t we identify an additional set of well-established and respected meets to also get automatic approvals? For instance, I would suggest that the Penn Relays, the Hayward Classic, and all USATF Masters’ Regional Championships would qualify as such meets. I’m sure there are others that most of us would agree on. Athletes seeking to set records could then confidently focus on these meets, knowing that records set there would get automatic approval.

  55. Gary Snyder - January 6, 2013

    Steve,

    That’s ok with me but would require a ‘rules change’ defining an exception to the current rules for records. Perhaps someone can author one which I can submit for discussion at the next Annual Meeting in December.

    Gary

  56. Stephen Robbins - January 6, 2013

    Gary,
    I would first be interested to hear if others are supportive of such a rule change. If there’s support, could you appoint a committee to handle it? I would be happy to participate as a member of such a committee.

  57. mike travers - January 6, 2013

    Mr. Robbins,

    Since this is your proposal, why don’t you lead this issue? Why don’t you gather a committee?

    Mike

  58. Jim S - January 6, 2013

    Hey Pete M and Pete T,
    I see your points, very good. You guys are a great asset to masters running.
    It looks like I was fortunate that everything worked out. I wouldnt say I had the red carpet treatment at some meets, but yes, I was indeed in a favorable position at that time. On Sany P, I doubt she knew who I was.
    On meet selection: Occidental was a meet I had run several times over many years; Race director Greg Harger at the American Milers Club Meets (a mid distance emphasis meet) was extremely supportive; and I was actually invited to the meet in Lisle, IL-All of that helped.
    I guess my point is until things are changed, we can still do our portion of the steps necessary for ratification….weather it ends up happening or not. But I understand I am saying this with positive results under my belt. Easy for me to say.

    As far as officials, perhaps the signing of record applications, and being aware that this is a duty that they may have to perform….perhaps that can be an agenda item at a USTAF officials convention meeting.

    Best of all, change the process alltogether.

  59. peter taylor - January 7, 2013

    Thanks, Jim S.

    Well, I guess the conversation is pretty well played out at this point. Not to prolong this thing unnecessarily, but if people go to the USATF Rules of Competition at the USATF website they could find some interesting copy:

    139.3 Recorder of Records: For all meets there shall be included in the list of officials a Recorder of Records. He/she shall see that records are properly applied for. He/she shall have at the site of the competition an adequate supply of record forms. He/she shall have no other duties.

    My comment: I guess we have the right official in place already.

    261.5 When a Masters Record has been equaled or bettered in a World Masters Association Championship, a USA Masters Indoor or Outdoor Championship, or any event listed in Rule 261.4, that record may be ratified based on the official results of that meet and the submission of correct age documentation, without the need for a formal record application.

    Comment: Entry requirements for at least the last four indoors (Landover 2009, Boston 2010, Albuquerque 2011, and Bloomington 2012) included “Verification of Age (a copy of your birth certificate or passport).”

    Second comment: It is interesting that marks made at nationals can still be tossed out in light of rule 261.4 and the requirement for age verification to compete in nationals.

  60. peter taylor - January 7, 2013

    Sorry, I meant rule 261.5, not 261.4. One of the more egregious cases was that of Stacey Nieder, whose record high jump in 2010 at Boston was tossed out and whose record high jump at Albuquerque in 2011 was on the road to being tossed out prior to an intervention by some of her friends.

  61. Fidel - January 7, 2013

    Does the records Czar go to these December meetings? How does she explain all these records not being recognized? Does she have a supervisor we can talk to? :-).

  62. Mary Harada - January 8, 2013

    As I see it – having set a handful of AR and WR in the past. Records set at USATF meets are “usually” accepted – except when they are not – ie – Albuquerque and Landover MD – for reason known only to the record Tsar – but apparently – in a couple of instances – due to faulty timing. I have never had to go around getting paper signed at National Masters Meets. Nor, I should add – at Eugene – and the Hayward Classic – but I made sure that the records keeper – who was there – knew that I had set a record – and the paperwork was taken care of.
    Outside of that – I set a record at a local meet having informed the meet director that I hoped to do so and he took great pains to conform to all requirements per instructions from USATFNE .
    As I have mentioned before – I set a record at the Maine Senior Games – and spent a lot of time and a lot of effort was spent by the meet director to fulfill all the known requirements for the record. Never was I notified why the record was not accepted – God forbid we should be told – worse than the doctor’s office where they tell you no news is good news and then later you discover that the news was not good but they did not bother to tell you .
    I did the same thing at the NEMasters Meet in Providence, RI – and still have the paper work – did not bother to send it in as I was told that the track “probably was not certified”. That was the first time I heard about “certified tracks”.
    So -my take on this is – do not bother to try to set records except at National Masters – or WMA meets – or perhaps at the Hayward Classic or a handful of other well known meets where people have set acknowledged records in the past, where the meet directors know how to fill out the paper work and are willing to go the extra mile to fill out the paperwork as best as possible – but even that is no guarantee.
    The system is badly broken, one person is not a committee – it is a dictatorship – the rules are not clear – there are some “hidden” trap doors, Gary Snyder’ idea of a website where you can look up online status does not solve anything. It is still a one person show. It is a hidden process and that needs to stop.

  63. jeff davison - January 9, 2013

    # 61
    Yes Sandy is very active helping us at the Convention.

    Most that have posted here agree that the records committee has a lot on its plate, and that a good helper or two would improve the records keeping situation.

    Thank you to Gary and Jeff Brower for improving things.

    I also agree that athletes in a particular event should be able to provide valuable input on that event.

  64. David E. Ortman ( M59) Seattle, WA - January 10, 2013

    In response to poster 48 who proposes that the athlete is responsible for submitting records, I believe Mr. Treacher may be from the United Kingdom and therefore unfamiliar of the USAT&F rules, including Rule 261.2:

    ==
    Rule 261
    2. When a national record is to be claimed, the Association, club, or organization sponsoring or conducting the competition at which the performance was made shall take all necessary steps to have the record applied for, including:

    (a) Completing and submitting the appropriate record application form. Track and field record applications (including race walking events on the track) should be sent to the National Records Chair or the appropriate sport committee Records Chair. Road record applications and all long distance record applications should be sent to Andy Carr, Long Distance Running Recordkeeper; c/o Atlanta Track Club; 3097 E Shadowlawn Avenue NE; Atlanta, GA 30305.

    ==

    Meet officials are in violation of Rule 261.2 if they do not submit record applications. Under the current rules it is NOT the responsibility of the athlete.

  65. peter taylor - January 11, 2013

    Well, this discussion has really ground to a halt. But I am not working today, and thus I will add something.

    In March I will be announcing the indoor masters nationals in Landover, and I hope that we (actually, Bob Weiner) can get the Washington Post involved, as it was in 2009. At that meet the Post focused on Joan Benoit Samuelson, but I hope to get them interested in some of our outstanding sprinters this time around.

    Bob Lida, Bill Collins, Charles Allie, and (I hope) Donelle Dunning should be among the top male sprinters at the meet. Naturally, we try to “brag on” our top athletes in an honest way.

    Let’s say there is interest in Bob Lida, M75, who ran 27.03 FAT last winter in a major meet in Kansas, a time that should thoroughly impress the Wash. Post reporter (I expect it will be Mr. Little). But can I say that, given the fact that the mark was thrown out when it came time for record ratification?

    Charles Allie, the Hall of Famer, ran 24.85 FAT for 200 outdoors in September at the USATF-sanctioned Potomac Valley Games, becoming the first man aged 65+ in recorded history to break 25 seconds for the distance. But can I tell the reporter (or the assembled crowd on Saturday) that Charles did that? After all, the time was thrown out when it came to ratification. Does that mean it didn’t happen?

    I sure hope that Donelle Dunning, the former Univ of Tennessee standout, shows up in Landover. Can I say he broke the M35 60-dash record twice at Bloomington nationals last year? We know that both times were thrown out last month even though they were achieved at a national championship.

    These are not trivial questions. Can we publicize times that appear to have been genuine, were timed by FAT, but still discarded by the powers that be? Or is saying that these men ran those times a deception? Not one of them is listed on the USATF web site, and thus Mr. Little would not be able to corroborate them there.

  66. SimonM - January 28, 2013

    Love it.
    I well remember Roger Bannister, Seb Coe – and in more recent times, Michael Johnson and Usain Bolt – scrambling round getting signatures and pictures after their world records…oh! and the weeks of waiting before they were finally accepted! It SO adds to the thrills and spectator appeal!

    Really?

    It’s not the athlete’s job to fill out paperwor. It’s not the athlete’s job to attempt to predict weeks in advance that he or she will have to fill out the paperwork and start emailing/phoning various officials.
    It’s not the athlete’s job to warn the meet director, the starter and the timers that he or she is going for a record.
    What ludicrous ideas!

    As Nolan says, “The athlete does not have to sign the app.He just has to run faster than anyone else in the history of the world.”

    And words of wisdom from Pete Magill:
    “A “record” is the best legitimate performance in an event by a qualified athlete. If I run the fastest American men’s 50-54 time ever in the 5000, and if I’m an American man aged 50-54 and the meet is legit (say, the Southern California USATF track championships), then that’s the record. Your suggestion that the “shame” is on me because I choose not to participate in the humiliating process of USATF’s current record ratification procedure doesn’t change the fact that no American man aged 50-54 has run faster. Paperwork doesn’t set records; athletes set records.”

    Thank you gentlemen for your good sense.

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