Kirsten Leetch sets W50 10K record at Mt. SAC amid thin fields

Eugene Driver returned again to deploy his drag chute in the men’s 100. He ran 14.21.

Masters excelled at the Mt. SAC Relays — but more on Thursday and Friday than the exhibition day Saturday. The headliner was Kirsten O’Hara-Leetch, who at age 52 set a torrid pace around the track at El Camino College in Torrance. Her 10K time of 37:04.87 smashed Kathy Martin’s 14-year-old American age-group record of 37:12.23 set at Decatur nationals. (The listed W50 WR remains 35:05.7 by Britain’s Fiona Matheson.) Kirsten — a member of the fabled Janes Elite Racing Team — is a former Olympic Trials entrant in the 10K and marathon who starred at UC Berkeley. Her club reported: “Of her race, Kirsten said, ‘Everything just fell into place for me’ as she clicked off seemingly easy laps at just under 6-minute mile pace, but we know how hard she’s worked toward this goal, and how many miles she’s logged in training, which only make this accomplishment that much more rewarding.”

Kirsten leads kiddies in Thursday’s 10K at Mt. SAC Relays. Photo by Bill Leung.

The next day, Friday, masters sprint god Willie Gault ran a 100 against the kiddies in a legal 11.62, just off his M55 WR of 11.30.

But back in the day, when recruiter/coordinators ran things, the Mt. SAC Relays filled the lanes with masters standouts in the 100, 200 and 800. Age-graded sprints and 800s (organized by Al Sheahen of National Masters News) saw different starting lines for different races.

In recent years, though, the 200 was dropped and the 100 and 800 reverted to scratch races. In Saturday’s 60th edition (see results), some great marks were turned in. But with only two women in the 800 and two women in the 100 — and three men in the 800, we could see exhibitions evaporate at this great meet if things don’t change fast. I’m awaiting replies from Mt. SAC and others.

The saving grace Saturday was the men’s 100, won by M50 world champion Derek Pye. He edged last year’s winner, M45 Reggie Pendland, 11.30 to 11.34. Derek will run at Penn this weekend.

Middle-school teacher Bob Elsinger, 43, fought off a bad hammie and 58-year-year-old Ray Knerr in the 800, 2:10.35 to 2:11.84, with Santa Monica City College media professor Monte Gast, a 70-year-old Canadian multi-eventer, clocking 3:35.00 in a rare 800 for him. (He says he’s shooting for a Canadian decathlon record this year.) Bob says he has all-time PRs of 1:55 in the 800 and 48 in the 400. He ran for Macalester College in Minnesota.

W50 Judith Stobbe, who moved to SoCal from New York a year ago, beat Janes Elite teammate Tania Fischer, 2:32.04 to 2:34.43, with W50 star Aeron Arlin Genet a disappointing no-show.

W40 Elly Mann of Trojan Masters TC clocked a legal 13.88 against her only competition, W65 Freddie Braxton, running 21.03 in flats.

Chris Stone took these shots. For high-resolution images, go to my Google Drive. But please credit Chris Stone / if you use these on social media.

Janes teammates Tania and Judy faced off in 800.

Judy, whose all-time best is 2:26 as a masters runner, led to the finish.

Bob held off Ray from the start of men’s 800.

Monte Gast used the 800 as training for the 400 and 1500 in the decathlon.

Derek (left) beat defending champ Reginald in the 100.

Elly Mann had the track pretty much to herself.

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April 23, 2018

5 Responses

  1. Jeff Davison - April 23, 2018

    Nice pics Stone family.

    Congrads to all the competitors.

  2. Ken Stone - April 23, 2018

    More photos of the kiddies here:

  3. Susie - April 24, 2018

    Great coverage of great performances. Thanks!

  4. Michael D Walker - April 24, 2018

    Eugene Driver really uses a “drag chute”?? Interesting concept. Wonder if it easier on his legs to slow down?

  5. Steve Morris - April 24, 2018

    Eugene Driver “The Track Junkie” brings a much needed breath of fresh air to the sport of Track and Field. I was his “Diablo” teammate at Cal-State L.A in the ’70’s. His sense of humor always reminded his fellow tracksters that whether win or lose they should have FUN along the way!

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