Mastersathletics.net dead? Huge loss to sport if reports are true

The most serious and comprehensive masters track statistical site in history has closed. Shut after seven years. That’s the word from an Eastern European friend, with access to other sources. Masters Mole 377(c)2 wrote me in late October 2013: “All masters athletes are probably extremely disappointed to learn that Martin [Gasselsberger] has given up maintaining his wonderful website: mastersathletics.net. As we all know, this site is the best (most accurate and comprehensive) online source about masters athletics statistics, with all-time and annual ranking lists. It is understandable that he probably got tired of (and fed up with) moving ‘mountains’ for nothing, doing HUGE free-of-charge work every year for preparing these detailed endless statistics. What for? Several ‘Thank you very much, Martin! You are doing a great job!’ per year.” In fact, visitors from 197 countries have viewed Martin’s site, whose map of pages inspires awe.

Martin’s site in its prime in 2011, when I posted this shot of homepage.

My source further wrote:

Maybe the solutions are two:
- finding a sponsor, who can motivate Martin to continue his work; or
- finding another volunteer who will continue his job.

Otherwise masters athletics will lose a very precious information source.

I’ve written to Martin many times, but got few replies. My source writes:

So the secret to get a reply from Martin is to write to him in German, and to be patient about the reply (1 week, 2 weeks, ….). If you know a German-speaking friend of Martin, you may ask him/her to establish a contact. Let’s hope he will change his mind. Otherwise, i.e. if his site “stops”, it will be a disaster.

I introduced mastersathletics.net in a September 2006 post:

Today in the IAAF Lounge I discovered a European-based stats site that has the potential to advance the masters movement as much as, uh, us. It’s called mastersathletics.net and it features records and seasonal rankings not seen anywhere since, uh, us. But enough snarkiness. This page is a player, with sharp design and serious content. The cool part is site founder Martin Gasselsberger of Austria appears not to give a fig for WMA niceties. He’s updating world age-group records on the fly, not waiting for Sandy Pashkin or other WMA muckymucks to deliver their royal blessings. In other words, Martin is trying to offer a genuine set of world masters records as they happen — not years after the fact.

When some folks posted comments critical of the early site, Martin himself responded:

hello ken hello to all!
about track and field:
at first i have to say it is my hobby and so i put first the running records online. BUT i work hard on it that 2007 most of the field records are online. unfortunatley i have not as much time as i need.
it is my passion (thank you to my girlfriend (design and technic) and in a foreseeable time a complete website (track and field) should be online. i am grateful for each suggestion.
thank you
with best regards
martin gasselsberger
(i speek english not very well so i hope you understand what i wrote)

A little later, Martin added:

ps: about the question “Is this website commercially”
this site is not commercially only over the google advertisement i hope that i can finance at least the server place.
im just interested in sport (generally mastersathletics) and thats the only reason why i made this website.
martin gasselsberger

In recent weeks, several masters tracksters have noted the lack of 2013 rankings on Martin’s site. So I’m afraid the first reports were true. Martin has pulled the plug.

An Australian wrote me: “Hate to think the service has fallen into abeyance (or worse). … I am probably wishing for too much, but his data collection methods/software should be sold/given to WMA? WMA is the obvious location for this service rather than from a highly motivated individual.”

Agreed. But WMA would have to deal with the embarrassing fact that Martin’s records contradict WMA’s. In other words, Martin’s site includes legitimate marks that WMA has overlooked, ignored or rendered ineligible under subjective technicalities.

I’ve cited mastersathletics.net dozens (if note hundreds) of times since 2006 and rely on it to settle record debates, look up dates of birth and research blog posts. He even maintains a YouTube archive of videos. Its demise would be a serious blow to our sport.

Although one can find Martin’s site “mirrored” on archive.org, the site should at least be preserved on its present server.

According to this domain-name registry, Martin is the sole figure behind the site. The name registration expires in July 2014. (That means if he doesn’t pay to renew, anyone can grab the name — but not the content.)

In August 2011, some Las Vegas company registered the domain name mastersathletics.com — but hasn’t done anything with the site. It’s just a cybersquatter, hoping to find a buyer and turn a profit.

The domain mastersathletics.com.au is a legit site, however — used by Queensland Masters Athletics Association.

So what’s next? Might someone in WMA reach out to Martin and cut a deal? Might some Sugar Daddy offer to subsidize the site? Might Martin consider a paywall — subscription access to his site? That’s been done before.

In Finland, Mirko Jalava has his famed elite-track database Tilastopaja Oy His rates are listed here, in Euros.

I hope Martin himself responds. We need him.

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January 26, 2014

8 Responses

  1. Weia Reinboud - January 27, 2014

    Oh no, I do so often use it… I’ll write him in German.

  2. Anthony Treacher - January 27, 2014

    Whatever the outcome – well done Martin Gasselsberger!

  3. annelies steekelenburg - January 28, 2014

    ..
    Martin, sehr vielen Dank fur “The World Rankings”
    Es war Fantastisch !!
    Ich will es vermissen
    Es war meine Freude fur sieben Jahre.
    ..
    Viel Gluck.

  4. David E. Ortman (M60), Seattle, WA - January 28, 2014

    As someone who attempted to compile a three-deep world masters rankings back in 1998

    http://www.ortmanmarchand.com/1998wr.html

    I can testify to the sheer tediousness of trying to hand compile such a list based on meet results in NMN and hunting and pecking around the web for other world meet results.

    When Martin came out with his site it was like a miracle. Viele Dank, Martin for ihre Arbeit.

    His ranking results must be preserved and some method for carrying on must be found. Why this isn’t a WMA priority is beyond me. But if WMA wants to serve masters athletes they will budget money and keep these world rankings and lists going. Of course I have a person interest in that at age 60 I was finally going to crack the all-time 400m list for 2013.

  5. John Seto - January 28, 2014

    The rankings system we have in the US could be expanded to make world rankings. I would consider expanding the system but would need much help, advice and better understanding of some of the challenges.

    Anyone seeking to discuss this with me to offer advice, help or clarity can reach me via email (john.seto@mastersrankings.com) or phone (845-635-9487 – home office number which can be called anytime of the day or night without disturbing me during the rare moments I sleep). Please feel free to forward this information to other media and anyone you think may be interested. Anyone who would like to talk me out of considering this are also welcome to reach out.

  6. Doug Thompson - January 30, 2014

    John, you are courageous to think of adding the world to your scope. I don’t have any advice, but I would encourage you to do it, if only for selfish reasons. I would also be willing to make a substantial financial contribution if you do decide to do this – although that may not be the limiting factor, I suspect.

  7. John Seto - January 31, 2014

    World and International Masters Athletics Rankings has a new home (http://www.mastersathletics.co) !!!!!
    Thanks to everyone who has given me feedback, suggestions and insight. I think it is important for the worldwide masters athletic community to understand the rankings system that has been in place in the USA so we can work together to create a world masters athletics rankings that carries on Martin Gasselsberger’s (http://www.mastersathletics.net) tradition of excellence and adds some of the nice features from the USA Masters Rankings system. A demonstration site available by February 5th so athletes from all countries can see and navigate through the site. Please provide feedback on the site so we can understand some of the logistic challenges, resources to help, etc. and complete the site by the end of March.

    The US rankings site enables athletes to enter results themselves but the vast majority of the results come from meet results posted on the web which we insert into the database. International Athletes will be able to start entering their own results by February 24th. An Excel form which can be used to submit multi-athlete results will also be available by February 24th so anyone who wants to help can type the results and email to me for importing into the database. All results will be instantaneously ranked both within your country and worldwide. We will use these entries to understand the needs and make appropriate changes so visitors will frequently see improvements.

    There have been many offers to contribute and other suggestions on how to secure other funding. There is a link for Supporters (http://www.mastersathletics.co/support.php) which has the information for financial contributors. This site will also provide acknowledgements for those who contribute in tiers. We hope to get contributions from the WMA and other countries’ Athletics organizations.

  8. Len Garza - February 3, 2014

    Great news John! I just donated money. Everybody, please do the same.

    Again, thank you John for taking the lead, the time and the ownership of this important website.

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