Medal standards for USATF masters nationals? Fuhgeddaboutit!

Recent NMN cover

So in the March issue of National Masters News — in essentially a three-paragraph column — USATF nationals masters chair Gary Snyder asked: What do y’all think of setting a standard for medals at nationals, so folks can’t earn one if they go superslow in solo races or field events? In the months that followed, letters ripped the idea a new one. And tonight an M80 runner friend of mine (who doesn’t subscribe to NMN) phoned me with fear in his voice. He’d heard from a reader about this cockamamie concept and worried that it might rob him of a gold. I told him: Don’t fret. Ain’t gonna happen. But just to make sure we nip this notion in the bud, what do you think of requiring medalists at masters nationals to achieve a set standard? Also, an FYI for my SoCal friends: Santa Ana College this Saturday, May 11, is having another masters meet. See the details.

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May 8, 2013

94 Responses

  1. bob - May 8, 2013

    the problem with medal standards is that sometimes people might get only one shot to win a medal due to injury or illness or responsibility to family etc. To deprive a person who rightfully won the award because they did not meet an arbitrary standard serves what purpose exactly? Is it to save money on medals? Please the cost is probably what is spent on per diem for some of the higher ups when they travel. Is it to make it appear that masters track is eclusive and elitist? nice message to encourage participation. Or is it a way to try and discourage athletes so the programs can be jettisoned by the national body?

  2. mike travers - May 9, 2013

    Championship medals are purchased by the separate and independent local organizing committees(LOC). USATF does not contribute.

  3. Bob Marchetti - May 9, 2013

    A terrible idea that gains nothing and probably costs participation. What if the event is the 100M into a strong headwind? Or a 5K on a brutally hot day? The simple facts are that an athlete trained and showed up to compete. The lack of competition is not something that an individual can control. I’ll happily pay an extra buck for the additional medals needed for the solo competitors – if cost is really the issue.

  4. chuckxc - May 9, 2013

    Standards for medals, not a good idea. But standards for scoring team points, that would be a very good idea.

  5. Mary Harada - May 9, 2013

    I agree with the 3 responses above. As the recipient of a broken elbow and with a very ill spouse- I am on the shelf right now – and when I make my “come back” expect that I will be really slow – as I creep towards 80. Perhaps I will not make the standard in my events – what a lovely thought to have as I struggle around the track trying to run a 5k or a mile in heat and looking at my splits thinking – no medal for you loser! At my age I am sometimes the only age group participant in the 3k or 5k.
    We should encourage participation – not slap people with a “sorry you are too slow – no medal for you.” This is not a money issue it is about awarding a national championship to someone who turns up, does an event, but does not meet a specific standard for that age group and event. This is an insult and certainly does not encourage the person to come back another year and try again.
    As for team points – yes impose standards there – too often some are doing events to get points for the team. While this is “noble”- it can lead to some poor performances as well. As a member of a very small all women’s club I am not commenting because of sour grapes – but rather watching the sometimes absurd quest for points in an effort to get the club the team first place.

  6. Gary - May 9, 2013

    I am not in favor, but if the sole value of competing is to get a medal than I think your focus is off.
    However, there should be more checks on what people are putting down as seed times for national meets. Sometimes they are putting times or marks they would like to have run but haven’t or marks they ran a few years ago. They should have to have run a mark in the current year they are competing. How do you check that? not sure…….

  7. David E. Ortman (M60) Seattle, WA - May 9, 2013

    I will resurrect my proposal to trade in medals for cash. See:

  8. Joseph Burleson - May 9, 2013

    I am against medal standards because there are just too many situations where the ostensibly logical intent of the rule would simply not apply: (1) participant in multiple events passes on further attempts after winning HJ in a downpour; (2) after heats day before, a tactical finals race in severe heat – the whole field had slow times accordingly; (3) an unopposed winner in the older age categories who is a novice in the event or is injured or on the mend; (4) mid-pack runner wins 800 after leaders trip wiping out half the field; (5) a large fraction of the 300/400 IH races ever run!; and especially: (6) the dec- and heptathlon for older age categories. If cost of the medals is the only issue, send me the bill.

  9. Ray Rapp - May 9, 2013

    Masters track is supposed to be fun. I do it for my health and just for the fun of competing. I dont care if I win a medal or not. I dont want to feel that I’m taking up space in a race where someone else can get a medal.

  10. Anthony Treacher - May 9, 2013

    I am for medal standards. I am not interested in medals, only in good results.

  11. Gary Snyder - May 9, 2013

    Hi Everybody,

    Ok – Lets try a standard for discussion – how about 16.0 for m70 100m?

    Also – If a 75 YO m/f who has never trained for an event nor participated in a track meet enters and is the only competitor in the event and by default wins are they really the National Champion?

    Gary Snyder
    National Chair
    USATF Masters T&F

  12. Anthony Treacher - May 9, 2013


    16.0 medal standard for M70 100m is OK.

    Your 75 year old – who also has opportunity costs in participating – should be regarded as your National Champion. Hope it does not go to his head though (it sometimes does). Depends again on his result.

  13. chuckxc - May 9, 2013

    Gary, it’s just standard practice that the winner gets a medal. Not their fault no one else showed. Perhaps it’s the patch for National Champion that standards could be applied to.

  14. Anonymous - May 9, 2013

    I agree with Anthony #9. What is regarded as a good result is arbitrary. We could start with some percentage of the All American standard. Give out medals, its not anyones fault if they are the only competitor in a race or event. To earn a patch however their performances should reflect a standard that is worthy of the title of National Champion.

  15. mjanusey - May 9, 2013

    I like Dave Ortman’s idea.

  16. troy dietz - May 9, 2013

    Gary Snyder. I support medal standards. One of the posters above wrote a multi-paragraph defense of no standards that is so jaw dropping it borders on parody. I don’t understand people that think that way.
    I think many people who would support standards don’t post comments on this site.

  17. Gary Snyder - May 9, 2013

    Me again,

    Let me be clear – the standards are for being crowned the National Champion – the awarding of medals would remain -Gold, Silver and Bronze.

    Gary Snyder

  18. bob - May 9, 2013

    me again. Yes that person is National Champion.
    and again for what purpose would it be advantageous to NOT crown that person National Champion?
    I am afraid i just cannot understand trying to apply relative value. Does it make the 80 yr old who ran faster in a bigger field but finished 4th, have bragging rights over the 75 year old lone runner who just started competing? Is that the message we are trying to send? I think being ecompassing and welcoming people to take part at the ages that lack large fields would be more productive in way of promoting sport.
    If people are interested only in their performance standard, that is great. Some people however find it almost impossible just to get the start line because of injury, and the things that life brings to you. How about this true story. Runner starts training to get back to what he loves. Makes time between work & family. Family business run by his parents teeters on bankruptcy, he has to postpone his dreams to move half way across the country and save said business. Once things start to get stable, his father is diagnosed with terminal cancer and the son remains to spend time with his father. Soon after the mother suffers a debilitating stroke. Kind of hard to say “see ya, i gotta go to Nationals, no chemo for you”
    Some people are able to make time to participate fully in this sport. Some people want to but just cannot, to punish those people when they finally DO make it to the start line by denying them the title
    “National Champion” because of some standard? Well it just seems that the people who advocate such a standard might just be in this for the wrong reasons. Maybe you should breakaway and form a new organization and call it “Elite Masters” to seperate from the people who did not achieve a standard.

  19. leigh - May 9, 2013

    Pitiful that this is being discussed again! If you win at Nationals you are National Champion and for that they give you a medal. DUH

  20. al cestero - May 9, 2013

    for me, the most important thing about performing in a track meet to show up. you can’t win it , if you’re not in it…as far as a competitor in an event that has no others, it is, and has always been, my thought to congratulate the winner, even if he was the only entrant. it’s not his fault no one else entered, and if he completed the race in a national championship, whether extra slow or extra “sloppy ” (wearing wornout shoes )he is a national competitive as I am, i’m never jealous of that situation..if I entered that same event, maybe I would have won, but I did not, so kudos to the champion. i really do not see what purpose medal standards would serve.. I’ve been in this game my whole life and through the years have some really great marks , and some really crummy I approach 60 my knees are shot and i’m nowhere near the level I always was throughout my submasters and masters career, but my love for this sport needs to be fed so I continue to struggle at least on a state level..instead of my name being at the top or near the top of the rankings, its near the bottom, but i’m not ashamed because every time I show up , i’m a champion before the event even starts…that’s why I applaude athletes that may not be as talented or gifted as I was, and I admire those who don’t have a chance to make it into the rankings, but perservere and keep going against the odds, and when I see one with a national champion patch, I shake his hand, and tell him i’m proud of him…!

  21. tb - May 10, 2013

    Gary and Ken appear to be talking about two different things. In Gary’s case, I’m not sure who is being served by holding a national championship meet and then adding, “…except if the following people win…” Nor do I know who is being hurt if someone who cares enough to show up is not as good, hypothetically, as someone who didn’t show up. Perhaps we should dispense with the meet and decide each event by averaging the computer rankings with the AP and USA Today polls.

  22. Weia Reinboud - May 10, 2013

    In my country the same discussion. Personally I think the real thing is doing the meet, doing your best, the yelling of colleagues – but medals?

  23. Levasseur - May 10, 2013

    Hello USA

    Same problem around the world.
    Why don’t set up performance standard to compete at National?
    But how many Master competition will allow to achieve when you are 50 and above.None in France?

    Medal doesn’t represent nothing for me,only the
    surpassing of yourself is worthable.

  24. troy dietz - May 10, 2013

    ref. post 15. Gary, after your post I went back up to the top and reread the column. Ken seems to only be talking about medals. Anyway, I support a standard for National Champions too.I can’t get too worked up about it though, I guess I just don’t have anything in common with people who think medals and patches are a big deal. I like post 20 and the last paragraph of post 21.

  25. Matt McCubbins - May 10, 2013

    Great discussion here. I tend to agree with the sentiments AND specific arguments of those opposing medal or National Champion standards, but for those of you who support standards I’d like to hear some of your specific reasoning because I actually have some mixed feelings on this. I myself was the beneficiary of a light field at the 2012 Indoor Championships in Bloomington where I won gold and National Champion status in M40 high jump. There
    was only one other competitor in my age group and although he performed admirably, high jump didn’t seem to be his primary event. I have to admit that although I am proud of my effort (decent result while fighting a sore back), my “victory” felt a bit hollow at the time and still does today because I didn’t outperform any top jumpers to claim my prize. Would having met a medal standard given me more fulfillment? Maybe a little….but I would still rather have out-dueled a strong competitor. On the flip side, however, if I had not met a medal
    standard and my accomplishment was therefore not acknowledged I would have been pretty ticked off. I trained hard, overcame injury, and I actually bothered to show up. Not my fault that nobody else did.

    This is my 3rd year of masters track and when I first started I couldn’t understand why there weren’t more folks competing…..but now I see how often and easily injuries can occur, and I have realized how “life” sometimes just prevents us from participating. Just being willing, able, and resourceful enough to show up is sometimes the
    biggest challenge! So I’d like to hear more points of view, but I agree that there are already too few competitors in our sport.

  26. Allan Tissenbaum - May 10, 2013

    Personally I dont care one way or the other if I recieve a medal at a national championship, I compete to see how I perform and often I am not pleased with my performance in spite of my placing.

    Winning at nationals is still winning, how would we factor in conditions, headwind versus tailwind, making a standard time for either medals or being crowned a national champion would just complicate the issues.

    As a sport we have difficulty attracting and keeping athletes, why would we do anything that would risk alienating even one competitor. If the only draw to our competitions for certain individuals is the chance for a medal or a national championship then we should not do anything to discourage participation. As has been previuosly stated athletes sacrifice to get to these competitions why penalize their performance based on some arbitrary standard.

    Is there a precent for this on the elite or open level?, if there is I am unaware. Can you imagine the olympic finals where in a 1500 the winner ran a tactical race, kept the pace slow and won, and as he or she came over the finish line the announcer would state, ” Smith wins the 1500 gold medal, but on further review the time did not meet some arbitrary standard so no one will be given the gold medal, I know this is a little far fetched, but what really is the big deal of giving the winners their medals and national champion patch?

  27. Linda Carty - May 10, 2013

    I have to agree with Levasseur and Weia R. Something is not quite right if the only reason for competing is to obtain a medal. I’ve heard participants actually say “since no one else is in this event, I’ll sign up and get a medal”. Gimme a break! Whenever I finished 3rd out of 3, I would not go to pick up my medal. I’d crawl under the stands and hide. But thats me. Besides,we couldn’t possibly come up with a fair medal standard for us. Too many variables. I suppose even at the Olympic level- a win is a win. Now qualifying standards for Worlds is another topic. (Because you run the risk of getting a new one ripped on this site, most people who would agree to standards don’t post their opinions here). I would exempt athletes after a certain age from any standards or qualifying restrictions at any meet. When and if I turn 95, I want a medal just for showing up! Much respect and admiration for my senior track family, especially the M95 60m heat at indoor nationals. Amazing!!!

  28. John - May 10, 2013

    I have a plastic bag full of medals from years of local, regional and national competitions. It sits on a shelf in my basement, and another gets added every now and then. They mean nothing. All I care about is what the time was, or if the race was a relay, who we beat.
    Hard to understand the attraction of medals, especially when the medal winner was one of three who competed. And I am not talking about M90+.
    So personally, I have no use for medals.
    Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree with keeping them if that is what will get more runners to the starting line.

  29. Peter Taylor - May 10, 2013

    From my experience, medals are extremely important in attracting competitors to masters meets, and I have been to more than a few of these events. An issue raised by several correspondents above may be much more important, however, and some of them have tied this issue to medals.

    With the Sr Games coming up this summer in Berea, Ohio, not long after the masters nationals are concluded in Olathe, Kansas, the question must be raised again: Why does masters outdoors have so much trouble attracting competitors, while for Sr Games it is a breeze?

    In my view we have to keep medals because we have struggled so mightily to attract entrants to outdoors. If we look at the last 24 years of outdoors and divide the championships into 2 time periods (1989-2000 and 2001-2012), why in the first period did 25% of the outdoors draw 1400 or more competitors, while in the more recent period only one (Sacramento 2010) drew that many?

    As I write this I realize I am going over very familiar territory, but because of the struggle I will bring it up again. In 2011 we had outdoors in Berea, Ohio, while Sr Games had its meet in Humble, Texas.

    I looked at the 200 dash for women in some depth. At Senior Games there were 88 women 50+, while at nationals in Berea there appear to have been only 27 American women who were 50 or over. What’s that, you say? The women competing at Senior Games were a bunch of nonathletic pretenders?

    How about Hall of Famers Phil Raschker, Jeanne Daprano, Kathy Bergen, Audrey Lary, Pat Peterson, and Flo Meiler, just for starters? And Kay Glynn was there (is she in the Hall yet?), as were many other speedsters.

    The men who won the 200s in 50+ at 2011 Senior Games? How about Oscar Peyton, Michael Waller, Hall of Famer Charles Allie, All-World Bob Lida, Hall of Famer Harry Brown? Sound familiar?

    Until the mystery is fully solved as to why people 50+ flock to Sr Games but dodge our masters outdoors we will have to keep on giving medals to everyone, in my humble opinion.

  30. Peter Taylor - May 10, 2013

    I should have concluded by saying “reject our masters outdoors,” as “dodge” doesn’t have the right implication. Simply put, masters outdoors is not a popular event, and until it is we will struggle with attendance.

  31. David E. Ortman (M60) Seattle, WA - May 10, 2013

    For various reasons (distance, schedule, finances, injuries) I have made it to one outdoor Masters National Championship meet in the last 14 years. I have no problem with the winner of a National Championship meet event being called, well, a National Champion. They made it to the starting line (or takeoff board, or throwing ring) and others did not. But I think the yearly performance (ranking) list (thank you John Seto!) often gives a much better perspective. Many who do not make it the starting line, or takeoff board, or throwing ring at a National meet, take great satisfaction in a high end of year ranking.

  32. Milan Jamrich - May 11, 2013

    I see how giving a medal for any performance might increase the attendance of the event. However, it does lower the value of the medal for everybody else. I know I am in minority, but I am for increasing the quality of the National Championship. We have no standards for attending the Championship. Let’s at least have some standards for calling yourself a National Champion.

  33. Jason Purcell - May 11, 2013

    I think it’s best to understand and accept the circumstances of our sport. There are not a lot of people intrested in doing what we do. I have tried to recruit older runners that I’ve met at the track and never once found anyone that had any intrest at all.

    Because of our age, travel requirements, and economics it only makes sense that some events will be poorly attended. Yes, it does irk me a little when someone shows up just because they know they will win unopposed. I can’t worry about that. As long as I’m not the one doing it. My experience has always been great and for that I am thankful!

    The National Senior Games require qualifying times. The athlete has to qualify the previous year so at least they have put in the time and met a standard. Maybe a system like this would work for Masters Nationals.

  34. Liz Palmer - May 11, 2013

    I agree with Jason (post #31). On one hand, I realize that we have no control over who shows up at a national championship and how many competitors are in an event. You DO have control over the level to which you train and prepare yourself for an event. Anyone who enters an event with few competitors just to score an easy medal is missing the point of competition. Once I watched a competitor in a local hurdle race who was endangering herself with her lack of skill and technique. She was stepping over hurdles and stumbled several times (she was not injured; this was her regular performance). I was very concerned and after the race I asked her if she was just starting out and needed some training drills. She indignantly told me she had been the bronze medalist at the previous national championship meet. Ummmm….OK. At another national meet I entered the hammer throw on a whim. I had no idea what I was doing and at worst could have injured myself. At best, I slowed down the event. I later decided that I was being disrespectful to those who actually trained and developed technique for the event.

    I am not in favor of medal standards. If you place first, second, or third, you get the medal. There can be appropriate standards for national championship titles. If there are less than three competitors in an event, I believe the winner should have to reach some performance level in order to earn the title of national champion.

  35. Liz Palmer - May 11, 2013

    I should add that with my lack of experience in the hammer throw I also could have injured an official, spectator, or other competitor. Maybe in some age groups the hammer has few competitors and that encourages some people to try for the easy medal. I would hate to be an official for that event.

  36. Anthony Treacher - May 11, 2013

    I favour medal standards because they raise the quality and status of masters athletics. However the best argument against medal standards has not been made here. It is more efficient for meet organisers to award the medals with no questions asked; without extra time-wasting perusal of the results, explanations and unnecessary controversy. I would yield to making life easier for the organizers any time.

  37. Anon - May 11, 2013

    I usually don’t get into these types of “chats”, but I’ve wondered about setting standards for years now. I agree with Anthony T. and Liz P. Being a Master’s Field event’s Athlete for several years now, I see WAY too many Track athlete’s attempting one of our many “technically” involved Field events. And Visa Versa. Most of which because they can afford to go and their are very few entrants in the event. They win or place in the top 3 and become “National” Champ with a less than impressive dist./mark/time. Would be like a thrower winning the 100M in 25sec!! Rediculous! There needs to be some kind of a “reasonable” and fair(Master’s T & F has been around for ever there must be enough data out there to set reasonable standards by now) age group quantified standard for each event as we get older. Not too mention the safety aspect behind it. A 100lb long distance runner should NOT be attempting a 56lb. Superwt. throw…EVER!! Just my 2 cents

  38. Jason Purcell - May 11, 2013

    I agree with Liz. Not just because she agreed with me. I didn’t run High School or College Track so I din’t really know what I was getting into before my first race. Out of respect to the other competitors I checked the times from previous meets to make sure that I actually belonged there.

    I don’t golf, so I never ask my friends who have played for years if I can join them. It would take away from they’re experience. I look at Masters Track the same way. As long as other competitors don’t take away from my experience or that of others, I’m ok. I don’t understand someone who would show up just for a medal but this is not the first issue in my life that confuses me.

  39. Jason Purcell - May 11, 2013

    oops! their experience

  40. Matt Brzycki - May 11, 2013

    I’m in favor of having standards for national championships.

    I mostly compete in our state (NJ) championships. In this year’s indoor meet, I was the only one in my age group (M55) in the 200 and 400 so I was the “state champ” in those events. My performances were decent (30.03 in the 200 and 1:05.78 in the 400). However, I know that if everyone in the state who was in my age group competed, I’d likely finish no better than fourth in both. I understand that it’s not my fault if I’m the only one who registered for those events but the fact remains that I wouldn’t otherwise medal let alone win.

    So winning an event as the sole competitor leaves me with a somewhat empty feeling; it’s nice but it’s not satisfying. What I look at instead are my times compared to the standards that have been established by the Senior Games. In this case, they use 29.10 in the 200 and 1:06.40. If I beat those times, then I’m fairly satisfied, regardless of how I placed.

    To be clear: I’m not in favor of standards for local or state meets, just national championships. I think that having performance (qualifying) standards at the national level adds legitimacy to winning an event while being the only competitor.

  41. Peter Taylor - May 12, 2013

    Liz (no. 34): You gave me a chuckle. I guess the moral of the story is that one should never offer advice at a masters meet to someone who doesn’t seem to know how to do an event. After all, that person may have been a medalist at last year’s nationals!

    Milan (no. 32): I don’t want to speak for you, but I believe your position is that high jumpers at nationals should be able to high jump with some proficiency. Let me give you a hypothetical about last year’s nationals (Lisle, Illinois) and get your opinion.

    As you may know, in the M35 high jump last year at Lisle the winner and the silver medalist both jumped 1.35 meters, or 4 feet, 5 inches. There was no third. Now what if we had a hypothetical third jumper we will call Douglas Van Worthington who didn’t know how to jump at all but saw a chance for a medal and thus entered on the final day.

    Douglas can’t jump a lick, as noted. Thus, he might ask to start at 1 meter (3 feet, 3.37 inches). Milan, would they let him start that low? After all, we are talking 35-39.

    Second, Milan, if they forced him to start at 1.30 meters (4 feet, 3 inches) he would of course knock the bar down on all three tries. My question is the following: Did he finish third? After all, he didn’t even clear a height and thus has no result other than “no height.” Does he get a bronze medal? I am not sure, but I think he does.

    Of course, if he does get a medal he can go back home and brag for months: “I went to nationals and took a bronze. You should have seen the explosiveness of the other jumpers; I can’t believe I managed to get a third in a field like that.”

    Liz, I agree with you and others that if someone takes third, he/she should get a medal. There are other questions about participation, of course, that seem more pressing.

  42. Weia Reinboud - May 12, 2013

    Without height you cannot be third, you are simply not finished.

  43. Milan Jamrich - May 12, 2013

    I would prefer if the starting hight in high jump would be announced in advance. If somebody does not clear the opening hight, it is the same as not competing. In my mind it is the same as not completing a run. There should be no medal for not completing a run.
    However, I understand your point about participation. Maybe we should hand out door prices at the next meeting 🙂

  44. Matt McCubbins - May 12, 2013

    Pete, your example is exactly the kind of scenario that gives me mixed feelings on this topic. While I wouldn’t want arbitrary standards to deprive those who responsibly prepare themselves and go to the trouble of showing up, I don’t like the idea of an “impromptu jumper” like your Mr. Van Worthington being able to brag about taking 3rd (or higher) at Nationals just by being opportunistic. Now I’m not going to lose sleep over it….I just don’t like it :).

    I’m not sure we can have it both ways, and if not then I’d rather see us go the No Standards route and just find more ways to encourage plenty of quality competitors to attend the National meets.

  45. Peter Taylor - May 12, 2013

    Thank you, Weia, Milan, and Matt. Not that I would ever doubt Weia and Milan, but I did look at the results from last year’s nationals (Lisle), and those who did not clear a height did not achieve a place. Rather, they had a — next to their name; they essentially finished “nowhere.”

    So, I guess the best thing for the decidedly unathletic Mr. Worthington would have been to wait until the final day for late entry and then enter the shot put and the triple jump at Lisle.

    In the shot put he could have gotten second in M35 with a distance of 2.00 meters, just short of 6 feet, 7 inches. In the triple jump a distance of 2.00 meters would have been good enough for a bronze, assuming the officials could measure a jump that ended up well short of the pit (another question for the rules mavens).

    Just imagine Mr. Worthington on his flight back home. After he had made perhaps 20 trips up and down the aisle the flight crew would have to say to Mr. W: “Please, sir, could you remain in your seat for the remainder of the flight. We believe that ALL of the passengers have now seen your medals at least once.”

  46. Milan Jamrich - May 12, 2013

    to me your comments suggest that something should be done. If Mr. Worthington gets a medal for 2.00 triple jump in M35, we should not be surprised to be ridiculed on the David Letterman show. We deserve it

  47. troy dietz - May 12, 2013

    In a previous post I referenced (by number)the 2 posts immediately preceding mine (Weia & levasseur) Somehow those numbers changed and now my post makes no sense.(not that it was that great in the first place) anyway, lesson learned.

  48. Milan Jamrich - May 13, 2013

    Just to make it clear, nobody wants to take medals away from 90 years old folks. However, as Pete points it out, in absence of some common sense rules ridiculous situations can be created. I could not care less about the medals so all this is not that important to me, but I think some adjustments would make our National Championship look more legitimate.

  49. Weia Reinboud - May 13, 2013

    The main problem is the number of participants, in my country more than in the US. The best solution is to get far more participants. Another possibility is to limit the number of medals: up to four participants 1 medal, up to six two medals, at least eight means a full field and so a full set of medals.

  50. Robert Nesbit - May 13, 2013

    Bottom line up front: I do not support any standard to get a medal or national championship at the national meet. I do however support qualifying standards to get into the national meet itself.

    I have watched this discussion with interest over the past few days. In the Jan 2012 issue of NMN I wrote a letter to the editor on the this topic. I think there are a couple of “issues to consider.” First, are any of us really “national champions” when compared to the olympians? Second, what are the overarching goals of the sport? Are we trying to increase participation, or limit participation? To apply an artifical standard fails to take into account weather conditions, and race tactics. Is Mo Farah any less of an olympic champion in the 5000m because he won in a time of 13:41 then Kenenisa Bekele who in 2008 won in a time of 12:57? You might not have liked the slow time that Mo Farah ran to win, but it was the time that got the job done. I am not trying to compare any of us to the olympians, rather I am saying that a standard to “crown” a national champion or a medalist because we are “offended” that they did not preform to what is perceived as a minimal acceptal level is, at best arrogant, and at worst something that will deter particpation. Who are any of us to say that someone’s performance is not fast enough, far enough or high enough, to those who did bother to show up for the meet?

    Again, I do support a qualifying standards for our national championships. That may or may not increase participation at the national meet since “life” often prohibits the trip to nationals but I think being able to say “I qualified” for nationals would increase participation in our sport, which, in my opinion is what is needed to raise the level of quality.

  51. Milan Jamrich - May 13, 2013

    Weia, how do we get more participants?

  52. Weia Reinboud - May 13, 2013

    I have no idea, unfortunately…

  53. Peter Taylor - May 13, 2013

    Very easy in the U.S., Milan and Weia:

    Merge with the US Senior Games. The last year for comparison of athletes aged 50+ was 2011. I looked at just two events (men only) and determined the minimums beforehand so as not to commit the sin of finding results I didn’t like and then not reporting them.

    I looked at long jump and high jump and set minimums of 5.00 meters and 1.50 meters, respectively.

    Long jump

    Senior Games: 9 men aged 50+ achieved the minimum.
    Masters Outdoors: 6 men 50+ achieved the minimum.

    High jump

    Senior Games: 19 men aged 50+ jumped the minimum.
    Masters Outdoors: 10 men 50+ jumped the minimum.

    Masters T&F in US needs the athletes who go to the Sr Games but not masters meets.

  54. Weia Reinboud - May 13, 2013

    Excellent! Can you come over to this side of the Atlantic?

  55. Arthur Nelson aka Ace Bond - May 13, 2013

    I like the idea of a merger between USATF and the Senior Games….so long as the 50+ requirement is scrapped and we have a true Masters meet. And yes this is a selfish requirement coming from a M40 competitor. I would hate to lose all of the 50+ competitors to the SG leaving the USATF Masters event depleted as this would be the death knell to building the bank of future competitors. I have obviously never been to a SG competition, but would love to see all of the top competitors at a single meet. Imagine the excitement…its palpable.

  56. John - May 13, 2013

    Agree with Pete.
    MERGE these two meets already!

  57. Peter Taylor - May 13, 2013

    Those aged 40-49 would be called “subseniors” and would be eligible immediately. Meet would be held annually, one year in the eastern half of the U.S. and the next year in the western half, but people could compete in either one regardless of residence.

    After several years, people would forget the initial decision to have “subseniors” and would simply include those 40-49 as “seniors” for the purposes of track and field only. In the following few years, people aged 30-39 would be added.

  58. Gary Snyder - May 13, 2013

    Hi Everybody,

    Thanks to all who commented. It’s very helpful for me to be able to form some consensus and some of the ideas were interesting and creative.

    Thanks again,

    Gary Snyder
    National Chair
    USATF Masterts T&F

  59. Jack Karbens - May 13, 2013

    Gary Snyder wanted to know about a standard of 16.0 seconds to qualify for Men 70 100 meter competition at the National Masters Track and Field Championship. I am 71 and have been running between 16.0 and 17.0 seconds in the last year or two. I have run under 16.0 in masters meets for 40 years but have had some injuries lately.

    Advocates for fairly elite performance standards have motivated me to consider not entering this year’s meet in Kansas. I do not feel welcome.

    I am profiled by Mike Tymn in the May, 2013 National Masters News. Please read this article about an average athlete who loves masters track but is no super star. I have competed, officiated, coached and administered track meets for the past 40 years.

    I recommend we not only give medals for the first three places but also ribbons for fourth, fifth and sixth place at our National Masters Meets as was done for many years. The ribbons cost about 25 cents each and allow for time, place, etc. to be recorded on the back of the ribbon.

    I have some possible answers to Pete Taylor’s question about the success of Senior Olympics. Sr. Olympics is supported by full time employees of local and state governments, charitable organizations and companies in addition to volunteers. On the other hand USATF meets depend primarily on volunteers. My mother competed in the Illinois Senior Olympics in the 70s while working full time at the Cook County Council on Aging. A chartered bus took the untrained government workers to compete in the championship.

    The minimum standard to compete in National Sr. Olympics track meet is to place in the top four in your state/area meet in any one event.

    Perhaps USATF Masters Track Championships could establish similar easy, comparable standards based on placing in the top three or four places in a USATF Association sanctioned Masters Championship scheduled at least two months prior to the related National Championship. If such standards were established, USATF associations such as Hawaii would be motivated to plan, promote and administer masters championship meets which motivate adults to train and enter.

    This dialogue began with a statement that Gary Snyder was interested in feedback about whether standards should be set for granting medals at Masters National Championships. His comment #17 above says he supports medals for three places but limits recognition of “National Champion” based on undefined standards applied to first place medalists.

    Please, Gary and our leaders, change course and support ribbons for places four, five and six for every man and woman in every track and field event in five year age brackets through age 100. Until this change in tune occurs, average athletes may just decide to compete in local meets and save travel and entry fee money. In my case I have the grand alternative of heading down the block to Waikiki beach.

    Aloha, Jack Karbens

  60. Anthony Treacher - May 14, 2013

    Jack. Ribbons and baubles for simply achieving a result in masters athletics is not the way to go. Stay on the beach. I certainly will if I cannot make the grade.

    If this debate is essentially about increased participation and how to attract newcomers to masters athletics, the opposite is needed – medal standards that enhance our image.

    (Weia. There are ways of increasing overall participation. But it involves a hard slog within the clubs, again by active example to improve the image of masters athletics. You ladies may be the key here. Female-only masters training groups appear to work. The active masters ladies seem to get a lot out of this socially and I rather envy their relationships.)

  61. Matt McCubbins - May 14, 2013

    Whew! Clearly masters track means different things to different folks. Gary, I’m starting to realize how challenging your role must be.

  62. Stefan Waltermann - May 15, 2013

    I just returned to my office from the local Senior Games. Almost everybody won medals, happy faces all around. Entering 8 events, winning 8 gold medals… the day is just a good training session for me. Declining the medals and appearing arrogant & superior is simply unthinkable and extremely impolite. Of course, I accept the medals with a smile and applaud everybody. Of course, the medals don’t mean a thing. To others, they mean everything. Winning at the local games brings the medal winners to the State Games, winning medals at the State Games gets them to Berea. That I heard repeatedly. For crying out loud, give out medals to those who place value on them, all others can politely decline if they don’t like their performance. (To me’s ranking at the year end crown the ‘real’ National Champions.)Now, go out and compete as hard as you can and earn respect. That’s another measuring stick, at least in my life.

  63. Ken Stone - May 15, 2013

    It would be a tragedy if people like Jack Karbens didn’t enter Olathe nationals because they didn’t feel welcome!

    Jack is shown wearing a kilt in the NMN profile, so he should appreciate my take on masters nationals:

    This isn’t so much a track meet as a reunion, a gathering of the clans — the Hurdler Tribe, the Pole Vault People, the Thrower Community.

    My chances of winning an M55 medal in any event but a relay is zero to none. But I love nationals as a chance to see my old friends. If we dilute this motivation, we’re idiots.

  64. Weia Reinboud - May 16, 2013

    Well said. The nationals should be the best meet of the year, both in quality and quantity!

  65. Gary Snyder - May 16, 2013

    Regarding Awards here is the wording from the USATF bid document:

    The top three (3) finishers (individual and relay) shall receive USATF National Championships medals in each event, in each five-year age division (30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, etc.), which shall be provided by Bidder. Ribbons for fourth through sixth places are at the discretion of the Bidder.

    Gary Snyder

  66. Anthony Treacher - May 16, 2013

    Gary. As a Limey it is not really my business. But just curious because this is relevant for us all. No medal standards for the masters USATF National Championships?

    Incidentally, although I am in favour of medal standards, I have the utmost respect for every single person who turns up and competes. There is no incompatibity there.

  67. anonymous - May 16, 2013

    No one should be discouraged from coming to our national meets. That is not what is being discussed. There should not be medal standards either. If you finish first second or third you get a gold silver or bronze medal. But to be named national champion and receive the title and patch you must meet a performance standard of some kind, that standard can be generous enough to allow for bad weather conditions or other factors. The poster who mentioned Olympic champions being slower one year than the next conveniently forgot that in order to be at the Olympics you must qualify! The title of national champion should mean a performance of a certain level of athleticism otherwise it will become meaningless. I don’t see how this can be considered “arrogant.” Other U.S.championship meets insure quality performances through qualifying standards. Since we don’t want to discourage any participants through qualifying standards,we should have standards for the title of national champion.

  68. Robin Hanson - May 17, 2013

    @ #26 Allan – considering you have to get either A or B standard to make it to the Olympics AFTER normally having a qualifying meet in your home country, your example doesn’t work.

    Perhaps people would take our sport more seriously if there were standards associated with the meets? I understand the thrill of getting a medal for competing and I like it, but I could definitely see the need for some type of standard to be crowned National Champion. I was an indoor national champion for my age group. Of course it was a thrill, but rather hollow considering I am DEFINITELY not one of the elite throwers – just so happened the stronger throwers were not at the event. Did I deserve to win, sure. It’s a tough situation, but I think there’s room to address both sides of the argument.

  69. Robin Hanson - May 17, 2013

    Just another quick note – #29 Peter Taylor asked why the Senior Games can get more competitors – an interesting question especially in association with this discussion as the Senior Games DOES have minimum standards in many sports. Doesn’t seem to hurt their numbers so why would it hurt Masters? Maybe NOT having minimum standards is what hurts the creditability of Masters T&F. Sounds more like the Gay Games where it truly is about participation and so there are no national or international champions, but medals are awarded. With all this said I do love Masters Track & Field and love the fact that we truly can do participate in this sport for the rest of our lives, but it is a bit of a stretch to simply show up for an event and have the chance to be declared national champion just for being there.

  70. Andrew Hecker - May 17, 2013

    I thought we voted a few years back to require the bidder to give ribbons to 4th through 6th. Obviously if we leave it to their discretion, most of these hosts (commercial entities like the Chamber of Commerce who are only interested in our monetary input to the community) will choose not to do anything more than they have to.

    That said, I will commend my cheap home town of San Jose. Back in 1997, their Community Development led Organizing Committee actually did give out 4th through 6th ribbons, without being forced to. And yes, I still have my two 4th place ribbons from the Long and Triple Jumps at that meet, along with Ken’s photo of me in the 200 (from the same angle as the definitive masters athletics image of Payton Jordan’s world record) on my refrigerator door.

    I’m never going to run or jump up to the level of a Kevin Morning or Jim Barrineau, who soundly beat me there. We take our chances, and if those kind of guys show up, I don’t stand a chance. But I had to beat some other formidable opponents including my relay teammate Steve Cummings (who I don’t think I’ve ever beaten in anything before or since) just to get 4th. If there had been standards, would those guys or I had even bothered showing up, to leave our money in the city coffers? By offending and turning away a large percentage of your participants, you reduce the financial value of our event to these civic promoters, making it that much harder to even find a host.

  71. Peter Taylor - May 19, 2013

    Robin Hanson, I will get back to you this evening (will do a brief experiment). Let me say first of all, however, that National Sr Games has not only far more entrants than national masters outdoors, a finding that is unremarkable; it has many more good athletes than masters does.

    See, for example, my post no. 53 (above), where Sr Games easily defeated national masters in a limited measure of quality (2011). Again, however, I will do an experiment this evening and then report it here.

  72. Nolan Shaheed - May 19, 2013

    Since the National Senior Games has qualifying standards and more good athletes,I would assume that a lot of national and world marks have been set at their meets.
    Does anyone know if the records are automatically accepted or if there has been difficulty with record ratification?

  73. Peter Taylor - May 19, 2013

    Well, when our friends Horace Grant, Audrey Lary, and many others set records in the 2009 Senior Games at Stanford University they were all thrown out. As I recall, not a single record was accepted. The primary criterion cited for the rejections was that the meet was not sanctioned by USATF.

    Of course, if you are willing to pay the money you can get a sanction; that doesn’t mean you will have a good meet, that you will have good officials, a legitimate track, etc. Recall our friend Charles Allie, who set records last September in Potomac Valley Games, a sanctioned meet in Virginia. Charles got nothing.

    Now that the track version of the Sr Games is run by USATF Masters I believe that the chances of record approval are quite good.

  74. Peter Taylor - May 19, 2013

    Not much to report, Robin Hanson. I took a look at 4th place, a key spot because it’s the first of the non-medal group. In my analysis, Sr Games easily beat masters overall (I looked at three basic events: 100 dash, high jump, and shot put). Not much to say. I’m only reporting because I said I would.

  75. Robin Hanson - May 19, 2013

    Thanks, Peter. It’s interesting to see the difference between to the two meets and to see what has happened in the past and what is to come. Appears there will be some interesting debates as we move along.

  76. Peter Taylor - May 20, 2013

    Robin, you can e-mail me at

    I don’t want to belabor the issue of Sr Games versus masters on this site. I do, however, want to make a couple of more points to you, as you seem to have an interest in the issue.


  77. Milan Jamrich - May 20, 2013

    So instead of increasing the standards we will give out more ribbons?

  78. Anthony Treacher - May 20, 2013

    This Limey again. If the participation in and results of your Sr Games are so good (= worthy medals), why does your USATF not ‘sanction’ (I mean ‘approve of’) the Sr Games?

    (And incidentally can we have a total prohibition of the word ‘sanction’ in connection with track and field/athletics meetings. The word ‘Sanction’ is ambiguous. It can both mean ‘approve of’ and ‘penalize’) and is fatal in ther hands of inept wordsmiths – of which there are many among our leaders).

  79. Matt McCubbins - May 20, 2013

    Okay, so what if we did have standards set on the mantle of “National Champion”…..what might such standards look like? Would it be based on the All American standard of each event by age group? Or maybe on the age-graded tables somehow? Naturally we’re all thinking the same thought: “how would this affect ME?” LOL.

  80. Nolan Shaheed - May 20, 2013

    Anthony Treacher. I completely agree that the term “sanction” should not be used and instead,- “ratify-able”. I know that this deviates from the main topic at hand but is a good start to let athletes who are interested in setting records, choose in what meet to participate.

  81. Weia Reinboud - May 20, 2013

    In the mean time… in my country the same thought of medal standards came up. Maybe I will going to design a nice set of standards. Based on this work (not yet finished):

  82. Todd Jeanes - May 20, 2013

    A national champion should be at minimum the all american standard per age group. Top finishers that dont reach all american standard for thier event get First, second, and third medals.
    Special Olympics gives participation medals to everyone . Is that really the direction to move twards . If I was to go to Olathe , and If I was to jump against Matt , and I finished 2nd out of 2 .. I really dont know if I would make another meet . I get more enjoyment from losing to those that are better than winning against far lesser competition .

  83. David E. Ortman (M60), Seattle, WA - May 20, 2013

    I could not find the 2013 National Senior Games (Cleveland) listed as a USATF sanctioned meet on the USATF Masters Calendar:

    In addition, neither the National Senior Games website nor the NSG application referenced USATF (or requested a USATF member number).

    It would appear, unless NSG has been granted a waiver, that once again marks set at the NSG would not be recognized as USATF masters records.

  84. Jack Karbens - May 20, 2013

    The latest posting on this site acknowledges Charlie Ross for his great performance in the steeplechase for Men 90 years old. His case is a perfect test case of whiich athletes deserve a patch as National Champion, a Medal for winning places one, two or three or a ribbon for places four, five, six, etc.

    Charlie deserves recognition for his effort. So do the 94 and 95 year old Europeans who ran the 100 meter dash but were denied medals for being the only athletes in their respective age brackets. Nothing should be done to discourage such athletes.

    When it comes to standards, there is no All American standard for the Men 90 steeplechase. Who is qualified to establish a minimum standard for this category?

    To quote Gary Snyder on page 12 of the March, 2013 National Masters News,
    “One way to change might be the use of performance standards similar to the All American Standards published in National Masters News; you would have to better a standard to receive a medal. Another way to medal would be to beat someone head to head.”

    If Charlie had done this steeplechase performance at a USATF National Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championship, Gary’s quote would propose that Charlie be ineligible for a medal or National Championship patch.

  85. Milan Jamrich - May 20, 2013

    Weia, your link does not work

  86. Milan Jamrich - May 20, 2013

    I agree that we need to find a way to attract more competitors. On the other hand I feel there should be some minimal standards. All American standards (or something similar) would be a good way to start. Naturally, if you are the first ever to run a certain event like Charlie Ross you should get a medal and 10 extra ribbons. Or more. This is not about 90 years old folk.
    If we are not serious enough about our competitions, we will not be taken seriously. We expect that the ex-elite athletes will join our ranks. They will not join us if competing in our Championships mean to expose themselves to a ridicule. No number of ribbons will compensate for that.

  87. Weia Reinboud - May 21, 2013

    Milan, try again:

  88. Weia Reinboud - May 21, 2013

    Sigh, there is something wrong on the server, my indezpage now is unattainable. Try this
    And when a page does not work remove ‘Eng’ from the title, and you get the Dutch version. Pictures are the same.

  89. Peter Taylor - May 21, 2013

    David Ortman, I may have spoken too soon. I thought that when USATF Masters took over the running of the track portion of the Senior Games in 2011 (Humble, Texas) that this would be the rule for many Senior Games to come. Has this arrangement been cancelled already? We certainly need to find out soon.

  90. Gary Snyder - May 21, 2013

    The USATF Masters T&F Games Committee will manage the 2013 National Senior Games.

    Gary Snyder

  91. Peter Taylor - May 21, 2013

    Thank you, Gary.


  92. David E. Ortman (M60), Seattle, WA - May 27, 2013

    The National Senior Games webpage for T&F now lists that it has a USATF “sanction.”

    Apparently, a meet can be sanctioned even if it does not follow the sanction application rules. This may be something other meets may want to look at if their entry forms don’t mention USATF and no USATF memberships are required.

  93. bpilch - May 29, 2013

    i come late to this thread. I favor standards, particularly if you are going to schedule the men’s 5k and 10k on successive days (thursday and friday) with a 1500 on saturday and nothing on sunday. what does this type of scheduling produce but small fields and substandard champions. someone could double the 5k 10k but if so they are only trying to win and not run close to their best. if they run close to their best, the second event will be very difficult. so, my complaint is way more about scheduling, but if you want to stick with stupid scheduling, then get standards or you end up with subpar times for champions….

  94. Mohamed Ali - June 17, 2013

    I’m really late here, but how about medals based on age group finishes and an age-graded National Champion per event? The money prizes are done that way, right? In my opinion, it makes it more exciting (and more of a challenge) to race everyone in your event, regardless of age group, for the national title.

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