Canada’s Helly Visser crushes 9-minute mile barrier — at age 80

Thirteen years ago, Alan Webb set the high school record in the mile by running 3:53.43 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. That same day, 80-year-old Gerry Davidson set an age-group mile record at UC Irvine, clocking an amazing 9:00.52. She would never go faster. She died at age 90 in 2011. So how ironic is it that Saturday, on the same day Craig Masback at the Pre Classic called masters records “laughably slow,” Helly Visser of Canada would shatter Gerry’s W80 mile record in Calgary, Alberta? Helly ran four laps in a stunning 8:33.77 at the New Balance Athletic Series meet, according to results. To add perspective: When Gerry set her mile record, the listed best was 9:49.40 by Ivy Granstrom of Canada. Also notable at Pre: W40 Diane Cummins of Canada ran the 800 in 2:02.64, and 39-year-old Bernard Lagat ran the 5000 in 13:31.23. He turns 40 in December. The listed M40 WR for 5K? It’s 13:43.15 by Mohammed Ezzher of France. Go get ‘em, Bernard! And Masback can kiss Helly’s butt.

Helly handled the baton in a 4×4 at Sacramento worlds in 2011.

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June 1, 2014

9 Responses

  1. Peter Taylor - June 1, 2014

    Wonderful performance by Helly. But isn’t her name Helena “Helly” Visser rather than “Holly” as in the article? Perhaps staying up late at night is the issue.

    Also, I’ve been trying to find the “laughable” comment by Craig Masback but could not. I wonder why he punished us that way. I’m preparing for the Southeastern Masters in Raleigh later this week and expect to see record holders Ty Brown (M65), Jeanne Daprano (W75), Charles Allie (M65), Oscar Peyton (M60), and The Great Earl Fee (M85), among others. I wonder whether their times will be “laughably slow.”

  2. Ken Stone - June 1, 2014

    Good catch, Peter. I fixed her name.

  3. Nolan Shaheed - June 1, 2014

    I was shocked when I heard Masback’s “laughably slow” comment when announcing Bernard Lagat right before the start of the 5000. It’s not nice to say things out of context that can may one seem less significant.Craig Masback was a great runner and a champion, but his fastest time EVER in the mile was only a second faster than the high school record. If that fact was broadcasted nationally to folks who don’t know much about the true context of mile racing, they may think he is laughably slow.

    I don’t think Craig was trying to be disrespectful to Masters Track and maybe he meant to say that Lagat should be able to break the Masters record when he turns 40 this year, but a 13:43 is not slow for ANYONE!

  4. Christel Donley - June 1, 2014

    Jerry and I heard the remark about “laughably slow”
    and just looked at each other!!
    YET, I like Noland’s remark, hope, it was meant that way!

  5. Irene R. Obera - June 1, 2014

    Great job Helly! This is one record I will NEVER break.

  6. David E. Ortman (M61), Seattle, WA - June 1, 2014

    Doubly snarky masters record dis coming from the CEO of USATF:

    “Craig A. Masback, 50, is the Chief Executive Officer of USA Track & Field (USATF), the national governing body for track and field, long distance running, and race walking. Headquartered in Indianapolis, the organization has more than 85,000 members throughout the country. Masback is responsible for overseeing programs ranging from youth track and field, to selecting teams to represent the United States at the Olympic Games and World Championships, to administering programs for age 40+ masters runners.”

    Curious that the above posting on the USATF website ignores age groups 30-34 and 35-39:
    http://www.usatf.org/about/leadership/masback_craig.asp

    By the way, the US M50-54 mile outdoor record is 4:25:04. [By the great commentator #3 above.]

  7. Ken Stone - June 1, 2014

    Craigo was CEO until four years ago, when he quit to work for Nike.
    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2008-01-09-masback-nike_N.htm

    Come to think of it, now that Nike has taken control of USATF, Masback is back in command. Max Siegel who?

    http://www.usatf.org/About/Directory—Contacts/Staff/Max-Siegel.aspx

  8. Mary Harada - June 3, 2014

    maybe Masbach will just laugh masters out of USAT now that Nike controls USATF.
    Congratulations to Helly,her times are very impressive indeed.

  9. Matt B. - June 4, 2014

    I thought Masback was quoting Lagat’s coach (James Li)who may have mentioned the times were laughable. For Lagat they may be, but 1:48, 3:58, those are serious times for just about everyone else in the world. I do think Lagat can run 3:37 15 and 3:54 mile next year if he chooses, but I doubt he will race an 800. The 5K is a given and a 3K if he runs it indoors or out. His 8:09 2 mile last year was incredible, I’d love to see him run a 2 mile next season.

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