Nike buys USATF? At least masters can expect free uniforms

Selling our soles? Will Nike gear be mandatory? Will masters get PR help?

USATF signed a deal with Nike this week. We have to live with it through 2040. What’s in it for us? Masters track can expect free uniforms for worlds. Maybe some marketing and PR help. The official release says: “The new partnership will enable USATF to fully support Paralympic and masters track & field teams through official outfitting of current Team USA gear.” ChiTrib track writer Phil Hersh wrote: “All USATF can say now about its plans for the increased Nike revenue is it will go for a variety of established and new programs.” Phil quoted USATF PR chief Jill Geer as saying: “That could include programs for elite, masters and youth. Because this does not begin until 2017, we have time to make plans in a collaborative effort.” But wrinkles in the deal may further marginalize masters track. And critics are sounding alarms.

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April 17, 2014  7 Comments

First Mother-In-Law apparently hung up her spikes after all

Marian keeps in shape chasing Malia and Sasha.

Five years ago, I made a valiant effort to contact W70 sprinter Marian Shields Robinson for an interview. Normally, masters athletes are honored to be featured in this crazy-ass blog. But Marian was slow to respond. In fact, she (or her minders) never did. Not surprise. She’s Michelle Obama’s mom and takes care of her granddaughters. I’ve long wondered whether she was champing at the bit to blast out of blocks. Now I learn, via a Washington Post profile, that she quit before moving from Chicago to the White House. “Robinson is as much of a perfectionist as her daughter,” we learn. “She started running in her 50s and became a gold medalist in both the 50-meter and 100-meter races in the 1997 Illinois Senior Olympics. But she abandoned the sport after an injury that made her less competitive.” She’s quoted as telling a magazine in 2007: “If I can’t do it fast, I’m not doing it. You don’t run just to be running — you run to win.” Still, I hope Marian pulls an Irene Obera and gets back in the game. Would love to see her run!

April 16, 2014  One Comment

Free gym memberships for some under Silver Sneakers deal

Seattle’s Jessica Seyfert contacted me before 2010 Sacramento nationals, and I met her at the meet. Now she’s working for another outfit and wrote me again last week. Happy to oblige her on this promotion. Jessica writes: “As competitive athletes, most of us make our way to the local gym to train and crosstrain for our events. Between gym costs and event-traveling costs — the dollars start to add up fast. A friend of mine, whom I met a few years back, was working with a group, capturing stories of masters athletes. We started talking about SilverSneakers — essentially a free gym membership offered by some health plans to their 65+ population. Apparently 1 in 5 people age 65 and older are eligible to take advantage of this benefit. I admit: I thought this was a program of exercise classes for frail ‘old’ people, not us! However, it actually boils down to a free gym membership. Average monthly gym expenses can be anywhere from $20 -$100. That could equate to $1,200 a year. On the subject of saving money to do the activities we love, for those who are eligible, this should be music to your ears.”

April 15, 2014  5 Comments

Happy birthday to Pat Peterson, smiling sprinter of masters track

Pat Peterson has been through the wringer, battling cancer and injuries. But I’ve never seen her sprint without a smile. So I hope today is joyful as she turns 88. She was one of the featured athletes in the 2005 documentary “Racing Against the Clock.” In 1998, she was inducted into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame. (In what other sport do you become a Hall of Famer and continue competing for 15 years or more?)

Pat Peterson (left) leads friend Johnnye Valien at 2011 Sacramento worlds.

Pat Peterson leads friend Johnnye Valien at 2011 Sacramento worlds.

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April 14, 2014  9 Comments

Ashton Eaton gets to watch great masters races at Mt. SAC

Hope Willie Gault brings his bride to Mt. SAC!

Me hopes Willie Gault brings his recent bride to Mt. SAC Relays!

Ashton Eaton, some bored deca-dude from Oregon, will make his 400-meter hurdles debut at Mt. SAC this Saturday. If he wants to be inspired, he need only watch one of several masters exhibitions that weekend. I can’t wait to see 53-year-old Willie Gault, recently married, take on former Japanese national champion Hiroaki Akabori and fellow actor Damien Leake in the men’s 100. Lots of other studs in that race as well. In the women’s 100, triple Budapest gold medalist Joy Upshaw will have her hands full with Portland State’s Cassandra Sidner, who is 23 years old. (Or is her mom running?) The women’s 800 is simply awesome, with such superstars as Sonja Friend-Uhl, Aeron Arlin Genet and Claudette Groenendaal. The men have a great 800, too, as well as a hammer throw. But no hurdle race this year. Mt. SAC entry lists says: “Event 513 Men 110 Meter Hurdles Masters — No entries for this event.” Sigh.

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April 13, 2014  3 Comments

Noel Ruebel, N.C. masters nationals meet director, is one of us

Noel Ruebel was one of the guys I shared a guest house with at Lahti worlds in 2009. He’s a tall, strong gent who can do any event. He was featured in a local North Carolina paper before worlds. (See it here.) But the story left out a key fact — he’s the meet director of masters outdoor nationals this summer in Winston-Salem. Lately, he’s been dealing with questions on housing. I was copied an exchange. He says Wake Forest won’t have dorm housing for athletes, but that five hotels will be served by shuttles. Noel writes: “Our shuttle transportation will be provided by buses from the school I work at [Forsyth Country Day School] and will be running throughout the day, and we’ll make sure that we don’t leave anyone stranded at the track in the evenings. We look forward to seeing you in July.” BTW, he took seventh at Budapest in the M55 pentathlon. Count on him to make the meet a great one.

Noel showed his discus form to local paper before Budapest.

Noel showed his discus form to local paper before Budapest.

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April 12, 2014  4 Comments

Texas thrower Mark Chapman facing hospice after major stroke

Mark was hospitalized in Houston after stroke.

M70 thrower Mark Chapman, a regular at Texas meets, is returning home for hospice care after suffering a stroke Saturday, meet director Seth Brower reports. “The right side of his brain is totally gone,” says email quoting Mark’s wife, Cheryl. “The swelling from that trauma is going to worsen over the next 3-4 days, putting pressure on and destroying part of the left brain. They cannot do a craniotomy to relieve pressure on the brain because he is over 60. He will have major cognitive problems,  personality changes, probably become belligerent and the sad news is he would be aware of his loss of intellect.”

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April 11, 2014  10 Comments

WMA counts 53 world records at Budapest; Olga shortchanged

World Masters Athletics has posted a list of 53 world records (indoor and out) set at Budapest last week. Many were news to me. But Olga Kotelko, who turned 95 just before worlds, didn’t get credit for one record — the high jump. She answered an email query (as part of research I’m doing for a National Masters News report on Budapest). Olga wrote: “It seems as though I didn’t know when to stop jumping in my high jump event as my energy level was so high.” She ultimately cleared 0.78 meters (2-6 3/4) — making her the first W95 jumper on record. WMA says she set eight WRs, so Olga won’t complain. But I’d like to see her name in the record books as the oldest female vertical jumper in history. I hope that’s the only oversight. World records are priceless.

Olga does a modified scissors/flop, as captured by Tom Phillips at Budapest.

April 10, 2014  4 Comments

Is anyone All-American in more events than M75 Roger Vergin?

Florida Senior Games medal haul in 2012.

Florida Senior Games medal haul in 2012.

Four years ago this week, I featured a story about Roger Vergin’s discovery of masters track. On Tuesday, he graciously reported his progress, writing me about his national titles. “In 2013, I won all four multi-event championships — indoor pentathlon, outdoor pentathlon, heptathlon and decathlon,” says M75 Roger. “Also: USATF indoors: 200 meter dash; USATF Outdoors: long jump, triple jump; National Senior Games: long jump, triple jump, pole vault.” But what really dropped my jaw was his self-referencing question: “Is All American ranking in 25 different events some kind of a record?” The folks at National Masters News who run the A-A show didn’t have an answer. But I’m not aware of anyone doing the double dozen (plus one). (Lydia Woods had a similar goal — to be ranked in all events. She had 22 in 2008.) While you puzzle through that query, check out an essay he wrote.

Roger, shown running the 800 at  a recent Florida Senior Games, had a 2013 best of 3:28.51, which met A-A standard for M75

Roger, shown running the 800 at a recent Florida Senior Games, had a 2013 best of 3:28.51, which met A-A standard for M75 of 3:35.

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April 9, 2014  8 Comments

Eurovets invited to get foretaste of 2015 French worlds at meet host

The Eurovets site says: “Lyon – host city of the next World Masters Athletic Championships Stadia – will organize the French Masters in Athletics from June 6th up to June 8th 2014. Marcel Ferrari and his team of the LOC Lyon prepare the World Masters one year before the great event will start. To check the procedure of entries, the venues, and the teamwork the LOC invites athletes from Europe to enter the open French Athletics Championships for Masters. Join in and be part of the championships!” The invitation targets Eurovets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Norte Americanos could enter French masters nationals as well (on the theory that our money is as good as theirs). So if you already were planning a trip to east-central France this summer, write to the French WMA rep or Lyon 2015 contact for info on entering.

April 8, 2014  3 Comments