Meet Kara Haas, new W45 record-holder in 15, pointing for W90s

Kara finished with Meb at 2013 Falmouth race.

Kara finished with Meb at 2013 Falmouth race.

I love people coming out of the woodwork — high schoolers, collegians and especially masters. So when I saw W45 Kara Haas coming out of “nowhere” to claim the 1500 American indoor record of the great Lesley Chaplin, I had to learn more. So I wrote Kara. “I’d love to stay healthy (!) and enjoy masters track into my 90s!” she said to my delight. “I’d like to become more connected with the masters track community in general as I’m fairly new to the track scene. I’ve met so many amazing runners already, and I hope to be able to travel and experience some of the national and perhaps international meets.” Kara is a K-8 teacher living in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.  She’s also a middle school cross-country coach, children’s book author and writer for New England Runner magazine.

Kara graciously answered my usual shameless questions: What are your all-time PRs in track — or did you do some other sport as a kid?

Kara Haas: High School: field hockey, basketball, softball.

College: Cross country (we didn’t have a track team)

All time PRs in track: (most of my track running has been as a master)

1500: 4:43 – Holy Cross, 1993
mile: 5:10.58 – Harvard Invitational 12/11/10 (age 40)
3000: 9:50.2 (Boston University, 12/31/11 – age 41)
5000: 16:48 – Penn Relays, 1996
Road PRs:

Mile (*downhill): 4:38 – Manchester Mile, July 3, 2013, Manchester, NH, flat: 5:10, High Street Mile, 8/2015

2 mile: 10:40 – John Carson 2 mile, July, 4, 2008, Chelmsford, MA

5k: 16:29 (*downhill): USATF-NE Championship 5, June, 2012, flat: 16:48 – Dedham 5k, 1994

5 mile: 27:14 – Slattery’s Turkey Trot, November, 1998, Fitchburg, MA

10K: 35:06 – NE USATF Championship, July, 1997, Winthrop, MA

10 mile: 1:01:22: Robinson 10 mile, 2004, Andover, MA

Half-marathon: 1:19:40, Philadelphia Half Marathon, 2007, Philadelphia, PA

Marathon: 2:54:17, Rock and Roll Marathon Arizona, 2008, Phoenix, AZ
Where did you go to school, college, compete as a young person?

I went to Westford Academy in Westford, MA, where I was the MVP of the basketball and softball team (pitcher).

Kara set 1500 record in her first indoor race.

Kara, shown winning masters 10K nationals in 2013, set 1500 record in her first indoor race. Photo by Scott Mason

I started running in college at Saint Anselm College when I realized I was just too small to hang with the basketball team! We didn’t have a track program, so I ran road races in the off season. 

Ed Sheehan (RIP) of the BAA took me under his wing post collegiately and took me to some of the big meets – Penn Relays, SeaRays in Tennessee, and I was so in awe of everybody!

I started working at Saucony and competed for them during my job tenure there, (I was World Corporate Champion in NYC 1996 – and got to meet one of my idols, Grete Waitz!) while going to school nights to earn my M.Ed. I felt I wasn’t very good at track (I seemed to always be in the back of the pack), so I focused more on the roads.  In 1998, I left Saucony to begin a career in education, and have been teaching ever since!
When did you start doing masters track (or road running)?

I ran my first masters race the day I turned 40 (10/10/10 – kinda cool!) at the BAA Half Marathon in Boston and won the masters division.  I had my first child the following year, and then started running track again. 

I ran 9:50.2 for the 3000 at the BU mini-meet three months after the birth of my first child, but it was not a USATF-sanctioned event, so it didn’t count for the masters record, although it was under the existing record. I ran a few more sub-10s that year, and then ran 17:12 for 5000 meters outdoors at the New Balance Twilight Meet. 

I won the masters division at the Falmouth Road Race the following year (2013) and then took another year off to have a second child (born 6/6/14).  I won the masters division in 2015 at Falmouth once I was back training, and got to finish with Meb! (a thrill of a lifetime). 

Since turning 45 this fall, I’ve gone after a few of the masters track records (I need to before Sonja Friend-Uhl turns 45 and breaks them all again!).  It’s been really fun to be a 45-year-old on the track, with a 4-year-old and 1-year-old cheering me on – not something you see every day on the masters scene! 😉
Tell me about your family — spouse, kids, cats, dogs?  (Molloy a maiden name?)

Molloy is my maiden name – I married Michael Haas in 2002, and we have two wonderful girls: Ella, age 4, and Elin, age 1. They are my reason for everything!
What are your competition plans this year? Indoor or outdoor nationals? Worlds?

I would love to travel to a national track meet – I’ve never been. The limiting factor right now is the 4- and 1-year-old in tow!  I’m hoping to attend outdoor nationals this summer. The road 10K championship is in Dedham, MA, so that is definitely on the calendar. I plan on running with the young guns on the track this summer, and seeing where that takes me!
What was your race plan for the 1500 record?  Surprise you? More in the tank?

I had run a 5:10 mile recently, so I knew it would be close! My old buddies Bob Hodge and Brad Hearst were at the meet at Dartmouth, and gave me the lowdown on the track, planning, etc. 

I knew if I ran the perfect race, the result could be a sub-4:50. Bob and Brad gave me my splits, my little girls cheered me on, and it all worked out in the end – 4:49.71. I can’t say as though I had more in the tank – ha! Ha! I’m more of a distance runner, and that was the first indoor 1500 I’d ever run.
Any other record-setting goals this year?  Which events?

I’d love to take a shot at the outdoor mile and 1500 record, but I also know that Sonja will be 45, so I’ll give it my best shot and let the cards fall where they may!
Have a coach, club or other support system?

I run for the Greater Lowell Road Runners – which is an amazing group of human beings that I absolutely adore. The New England running community in general is so supportive, and I am always getting words of wisdom from Tom Dederian, Dave Dunham, Bob Hodge and Dave Camire.  Fernando Braz is the man I hold on a pedestal, though – he has coached me to nearly all of my PRs (and many of them came after 40) and is, in my opinion, the best coach there is. 
Why do you compete in masters track?

Hmmm — for so many reasons. My dad is 75, and he can still tear it up out there!  I have always looked to him as a role model for what one can do as one ages. I hope to be able to inspire my daughters the same way. 

I love masters track as well, because there is such respect across the age groups. For example, at the New England Indoor Championships at Harvard this past weekend, there was a men’s masters 800. The entire stadium rose to their feet to cheer the final competitor, who I believe was in his 80s, and looked simply awesome out there. That’s what it’s all about!
How can masters track attract more athletes in your age demographic?

The 40s are kind of like “tweens” – we aren’t children anymore but we are not quite teenagers. Our days of placing in the open division are on the wane, so we start to explore the masters category.   

I think the exhibition events are a huge boon to this demographic. The New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston this year has an exhibition men’s masters mile that every male master I know would love to run – it’s televised!

I wish some of the meets would add a women’s masters exhibition – such as the USATF is doing at the Olympic Trials.  I feel women my age are just as interested in the experience (i.e. running at Hayward Field) as they are in running fast. I also feel it would help if the running companies focused on some of the masters athletes as well. Somebody slap a logo on Flo Meiler, already! That woman is amazing!
Anything else people should know about you or your interest in masters track?

Well, I blog – mainly about masters running and pregnancy. I feel I’m in a bit of a unique situation – running around after a 1-year old and a 4-year-old certainly makes the laps around the track seem relatively easy in comparison!

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February 26, 2016

3 Responses

  1. Lesley Chaplin - February 27, 2016

    Congrats Kara! Welcome to the wonderful family of Masters Track

  2. Matt B. - February 27, 2016

    Kris Paaso 5:02.23 mile an AR ? Think she is 45.

  3. Diane Pierce - February 27, 2016

    Kara has been tearing up the roads for the past 20 years. I was a teammate of hers back in the 1990’s along with Christine Snow Reaser. She just recently jumped into a masters’ track race but is not really a newcomer. She has been doing it all along. I’ve always thought of her as a youngster. Time really flies by. Congrats on your accomplishments.

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