Guest rant on records: Pete Magill tells why he won’t apply for 5K
Pete Magill went on record against our obscene and obtuse record-ratification process eight months ago. He hasnâ€™t softened in his M50 dotage. He writes about his American record 5K: â€śYou know what I did after running my 15:11? I jogged two miles with a friend, stopped by the timerâ€™s tent to get a copy of the FAT photo as a memento, then went to nearby Tommyâ€™s burgers with my girlfriend to scarf chili-cheeseburgers. It may be the first time Iâ€™ve enjoyed myself post-record beating race as a masters athlete! My race finished at 11 p.m., and this is what I didnâ€™t do: Spend the next couple hours frantically badgering harried and confused officials for signatures, when all those officials want to do is clean up and go home â€” and when some of the officials have inevitably already done just that â€” followed by the joy of trying to get the paperwork actually processed and ratified over the next few months (just ask Tony Young, Nolan Shaheed, Liz Palmer, Kathryn Martin and countless others how that sometimes works out). In other words, I celebrated a great race, instead of beginning to wish Iâ€™d never run it. The end.â€ť
Peteâ€™s record 5000 also got good ink in Runnerâ€™s World:
By Peter Gambaccini
Californian Pete Magill was dominant in the 45-49 age group; for example, he ran 14:45 for 5000 meters in March 2011, three months before turning 50, to become the oldest American to break 15:00 for the distance. Heâ€™s kept to his record-breaking ways since turning 50, including running 15:11.13 for 5000 meters at this weekendâ€™s Oxy Invite in California, under the recognized 50-and-over American record. But, as youâ€™ll see in a bit, donâ€™t look for Magillâ€™s name in the record books for this mark.
Thereâ€™s been an abundance of activity in the 50-plus 5000 in 2012. The American record of 15:41.67 by Mike Heffernan had stood for 20 years until it was lowered by Ken Ernst to 15:34.62 in March and then to a formidable 15:16.77 by Mike Blackmore just a week ago.
Blackmore and Magill will apparently be doing battle in the coming weeks to further lower their times, and ownership of it may pass back and forth between them, with Tony Young, who has just turned 50, possibly joining the fray.
But Magill, who is also a terrific Running Times columnist, is making no small plans. Lamenting that he â€śjust got started too late this yearâ€ť and is â€śdefinitely not quite race-fit yet,â€ť he declares,
â€śIâ€™m going to try to find another 5000 in June, because I think Iâ€™m 3 to 4 weeks away from 14:45-14:50.â€ť His concern, he says, is that â€śI honestly think I might not find a decent race.â€ť
In any case, from what Magill tells us, his 15:11 may never be considered an â€śofficialâ€ť record because he finds the ratification procedure to be â€śa really demeaning process.â€ť
He explains, â€śIt ultimately requires multiple follow-up phone calls, lots of begging, last-minute reminders at the [USATF] annual meeting where records are ratified, and thatâ€™s after running around a meet for a couple hours, trying to get people to sign off on all the things that need signing off on (the person who installed the track is supposed to sign off on the track being 400 meters, the starter for the race has to sign, the timer(s), somebody signs to guarantee that the track has proper rails, the meet director, etc.) â€¦ and even then the applications arenâ€™t always accepted (and are often misplaced â€¦ often).â€ť
Magill concludes, â€śAnyway, all that counts is that it gets on the ARRS top times list (they keep selected track times too) and the American Records Wikipedia entry, and I donâ€™t need paperwork for that.â€ť
Magill is exceptionally fast at 50 but, he says, â€śThe worst part about being a 50-year-old runner is this: The day before the race, for no apparent reason, my legs and feet suddenly got inflamed. It actually hurt to jog. They had improved by race time, but I still had to loosen the laces on my shoes to warm up (you know, just so my feet could fit into them!). It didnâ€™t affect my race (exhaustion was much more of a factor). But it was one of those annoying age things that really puts a damper on training and racing enthusiasm.â€ť
Nice shout-out to Andy Heckerâ€™s Wikipedia records for masters track.
But wouldnâ€™t it be nice for a meet director to do his freaking job and provide all paperwork for a record on behalf of an athlete?