Noel Ruebel, N.C. masters nationals meet director, is one of us

Noel Ruebel was one of the guys I shared a guest house with at Lahti worlds in 2009. He’s a tall, strong gent who can do any event. He was featured in a local North Carolina paper before worlds. (See it here.) But the story left out a key fact — he’s the meet director of masters outdoor nationals this summer in Winston-Salem. Lately, he’s been dealing with questions on housing. I was copied an exchange. He says Wake Forest won’t have dorm housing for athletes, but that five hotels will be served by shuttles. Noel writes: “Our shuttle transportation will be provided by buses from the school I work at [Forsyth Country Day School] and will be running throughout the day, and we’ll make sure that we don’t leave anyone stranded at the track in the evenings. We look forward to seeing you in July.” BTW, he took seventh at Budapest in the M55 pentathlon. Count on him to make the meet a great one.

Noel showed his discus form to local paper before Budapest.

Noel showed his discus form to local paper before Budapest.

Here’s the story about Noel:

Brant Wilkerson-New/Winston-Salem Journal

For Noel Ruebel, there’s no secret to maintaining his success in masters track and field.

There are no cocktails of supplements, protein shakes or magic diets — just one capsule of Vitamin C with his breakfast, usually a bowl of cereal.

Other than avoiding greasy foods, Ruebel considers everything else fair game.

“I think I’ve just been blessed with a high metabolism,” he said. “I don’t do a great job in following a nutrition plan.”

Ruebel works out each day with the goal of practicing two of the events that make up the heptathlon — the 60 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60 meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 meters.

Ruebel, 57 and the track-and-field coach at Forsyth Country Day School, won the men’s 55-59 division at the National Masters Indoor Heptathlon earlier this month in Kenosha, Wis., avenging a loss last year to rival Jim Russ of Charlotte.

He attributed the victory to a solid year of training and was helped by a strong performance in the high jump — an event he knows a thing or two about, after winning four Big Ten titles during his career at Purdue. Ruebel took the high jump by more than four inches for a 131 point advantage.

Still, that wasn’t even his biggest meet this month. Ruebel flew to Hungary last week to compete in the heptathlon at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Track and Field Championships, scheduled March 25-30.

The opportunity to compete on the international stage is one reason Ruebel chose to pursue masters track and field.

“One of the things that had been left undone in my career back as a younger man is that I never made a USA team,” he said. “I never got to don a USA uniform and represent our country. I came very close a few times, but I never made it.”

About six years ago, when Ruebel stumbled across some masters track results online, old feelings started to stir, and he decided that he wanted to give it a try.

“I said, ‘Hey I think I can do most of those events,’” he said.

The next day, he went out and bought more than $1,000 worth of equipment to start training. It turned out that the investment lit a fire in him.

“After my first meet, I was hooked,” he said.

At 57, Ruebel is toward the low range in age for masters competitors. The national meet in Wisconsin drew three heptathlon competitors in their 80s, and he said he draws inspiration from watching performances like that, with the most memorable being a 92-year old man’s finishing a decathlon.

“It’s inspiring,” Ruebel said. “It’s incredible to see some of your elders capable of doing these things.”

Of course, with age come challenges that Ruebel had to adjust to.

“Back in the day when it came to a day when you didn’t feel very good, you just went out and plowed your way through it because you just knew it was going to make you tougher,” he said, “and you were young enough that you could recover from it.… It doesn’t work that way any longer.”

After trying to work through rough workouts and finding himself in bad shape for several days, Ruebel finally decided to take the occasional day off.

“I went home, and I’m sitting there, and I’m twiddling my thumbs, and I’m saying, ‘I should be doing something, I should be out doing something,’” Ruebel said. “The thing is, the next day, I could go out and do something, and the day after that I could go out and do something.

“The lesson learned is that no one day makes a difference. It used to.”

This trip won’t be Ruebel’s first international meet. He won a silver medal at the 2012 Worlds in Finland against a field of 16 competitors. This time, he’ll face off against 31 of the top athletes in his age group from around the world.

That experience, coupled with his performance at nationals, has Ruebel feeling pretty good about his chances.

“I feel like I’m in good shape,” he said. “This is going to be a heck of a competition.”

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April 12, 2014

5 Responses

  1. Peter Taylor - April 13, 2014

    Good article about a great guy who is very much devoted to masters track and field. If devotion counts, Noel will be rewarded with a turnout of 1504 or better for this summer’s nationals at Wake Forest University.

    Why target 1504? Well, as I have stated several times elsewhere, the record turnout for masters nationals continues to be 1503, set at Eugene way back in 2000. The record for a nationals that was not held in Oregon or California is 1367, if memory serves. That would be Charlotte (2006).

    The FOUR HIGHEST turnouts for outdoor nationals have been in California or Oregon, and it’s not hard to figure out why. But with Noel’s reference above to taking care of the athletes with shuttles, and with his attention to detail, I think that this meet may be the fifth nationals to break the 1400 barrier, with an outside chance at exceeding 1500.

    Remember, regular entry closes on June 19. I look forward to driving the 5 hours and 10 minutes or so from Fairfax, Virginia, and I hope that others will make the trip as well, whether this means coming all the way from Hawaii or simply making a short jaunt within Winston-Salem, the host city.

  2. Matt McCubbins - April 13, 2014

    Great write-up, Ken. We are looking forward to the 10 hour drive from South Bend to enjoy the fun and fellowship of Nationals, and then the greater Smokey Mountains area afterward for the rest of our vacation time.

  3. John Stilbert - April 13, 2014

    Nice looking discus technique.

  4. Noel Ruebel - April 14, 2014

    Thanks for the plug Ken, and thanks for the kind words Peter. When we won the bid two years ago, Peter Taylor was the first person I called to ensure we would have the “Voice of Masters Track” at our meet. We have some other fun things planned to add to your experience in Winston-Salem. Karaoke at the Athletes banquet, to be held at the JDL facility which hosts the 2015 Masters Indoor Nationals, (I’ll be leading off with Chantilly Lace), fireworks at the minor league baseball game on Friday night, and we’re working on a couple of races for youth, (kids and grandkids attending the meet). We hope to see a lot of you attend and would be thrilled to have Peters prediction come true.

  5. Ken Stone - May 4, 2014

    LOC has issued a call for 200 volunteers:

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