M90 relay WRs were years in the making, changed members

Champion Goldy Sr. reaches for Orville Rogers in first handoff of historic first M90 4×100.

By now, the world knows about B-Day at North Carolina nationals, when five members of the Greatest Generation united to handle batons in the first-ever world records in the M90 outdoor relays — 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800. ESPN’s SportsCenter featured Sunday’s events (and video). (Look for me in white backward ballcap taking pictures at finish line of 4×100.) But there’s way more to know. Lydia Woods, retired professor at Morehouse College and a prolific competitor at nationals, shares … the rest of the story. In an essay called “History in the Making: 4×90,” she tells how the WR bids were years in the making. Original members had to be replaced. Gotta love the mission and its execution. Something like D-Day. I covered it like Ed Murrow, and posted dozens of photos.

Men completing the 4×100 at nationals totaled 376 in age. Average leg: 35.6 seconds and 94 years old. Mission accomplished, gentlemen!

Here’s Lydia’s writeup.

It’s taken quite an effort to get four men 90+ years old to try for three World Records at the 2014 Outdoor Masters Track & Field Championships. Charles Ross was determined to contact as many 90+ year old runners to get this thing done. History was just waiting to be made in the M90-94 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800 outdoor relays. No one in any country in the world has been able to get a group of four to accomplish this historical feat.

Media master Bob Weiner shares moment with Orville Rogers after the 4×100 relay.

In 2012, John Means (91), Orville Rogers (94) and Ralph Maxwell (92) were looking for just one more 90-year-old to set a world record at the [USATF masters] indoor nationals in Bloomington, Indiana, in the 4×200 relay. They had been trying for five years to get four in the M85-89 and two years in M90-94 with no success. Orville Rogers volunteer to pay the entire fee if they could get just one more person.

Maxwell approached me to see if Charles Ross could be the fourth. At that time, Charles was only 89 years old, so the only available option was breaking the current record for M85-89. They shattered it by running 3:36.28, but the following year in 2013, when Charles Ross turned 90, two of the four were unable to attend the [outdoor nationals] in Olathe, Kansas.

Orville Rogers turned 95 that year and was setting world records of his own. At the indoors in Boston 2014, the opportunity was missed because no one had tried to organize a team. We were unable to contact Ralph Maxwell and sadly we heard of the passing of John Means.

Charles Ross is cheered at end of 4×100 — the oldest relay team on record.

On our return from Boston, Charles and I discussed what it would take to get four maybe even five 90-plus-year-olds to try for the three relays at the 2014 outdoor nationals. His efforts paid off and he had successfully got commitments from four other 90-plus-year-olds — Ralph Maxwell (93), Orville Rogers (96), Charles Boyle (91) and Roy Englert (92).

Sadly, two weeks before the entry deadline, Charles spoke with Ralph Maxwell. Ralph told Charles that his cancer had returned and that he did not have long to live. Champion Goldy (97) was recruited in Maxwell’s place as the fifth team member. The team decided to dedicate the three world records to Ralph Maxwell and John Means of the original 4×2 indoor relay team.

That historical event was accomplished without a flaw and three world records that have never been set in any country is now a feather in the American Cap!

M90-94 4×100 (2:22.37), 4×400 (12:41.69) and 4×800 (28:17.10) M90-94.

Congratulations, “Fore-Runners” — the name selected by the team and placed on our entry form.

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July 23, 2014

4 Responses

  1. Rob Jerome - July 23, 2014

    Great photo coverage, Ken!

  2. Ken Stone - July 23, 2014

    Thanks, Rob! You kicked butt, too. All 4 days are now posted in photo gallery:

    BTW, I love seeing y’all grab shots for Facebook. Just don’t forget to say where you got ’em.

  3. Jeff Davison - July 25, 2014

    Congrads to the fab four.

  4. Ken Stone - September 1, 2014

    NY Times did a nice job on the gents:

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