Staying upright, Irene Obera sets 60-meter hurdles world record

Don Isett set M75 AR, topping a Bud Held mark.

Don Isett sets M75 AR, beating a Bud Held mark.

Hurdling at 80 is rare for men but almost unheard of for women. But Irene Obera upped the age limit to 81 Saturday at North Carolina masters nationals. After stumbling in her pentathlon race Friday, she stayed clean in the open 60 hurdles Saturday to finish in 13.76 seconds and adding the indoor WR to her outdoor ones from 2014. (Christel Donley’s silver-medal effort of 14.66 thus becomes the No. 2 mark all-time W80.) Rob Jerome, sharing photos again, also reports that Irene extended the listed American record in the long jump but didn’t jump as far as she did in the pentathlon. Rob adds: “Great anticipation during the day for the M90 Indoor 4200.  I got a nice shot of the 4 gentlemen BEFORE they were thronged by the media after their (inaugural WR) performance” of 5:40.82. And M75 Don Isett cleared 2.91 (9-6 1/2) on his first try to better Bud Held’s listed AR of 2.90. The listed WR is 3.00 (9-10) by Hungary’s Zoltan Kurenczi. Finally, W65 Myrle Mensey added to her national titles with a shot mark of 9.26 meters (better than her own listed AR of 9.25) but short of a 9.48 (31-1 1/4) she had recently.

Potomac Valley TC foursome of (from left) Orville Rogers, 97; Charles Boyle, 91; Roy Englert, 92; and Charles Ross, 92, became the first over-90 relay team in indoor history. Potomac Valley Track Club - A

Potomac Valley TC foursome of (from left) Orville Rogers,97; Charles Boyle, 91; Roy Englert, 92; and Charles Ross, 92 — first all-90 relay team in indoor history.

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March 21, 2015  5 Comments

Irene Obera paces N.C. nationals with records in W80 pentathlon

Irene would catch a foot and fall, but get up and finish.

Irene would catch a foot and fall, but get up and finish 60H.

Hall of Famer Irene Obera isn’t the oldest female pentathlete in history (Olga Kotelko was 93 when she set her record at Jyväskylä indoor worlds in 2012), but at 81, the Northern Californian is pioneering the event post-80. At N.C. nationals Friday, she set a first-ever W80 WR in the event — despite taking a tumble in the 60 hurdles. (Christel Donley is the first W80 indoor heptathlete, however.) As USATF graciously reports: “The USA Track & Field Masters Indoor Championships opened Friday on the first day of Spring with a bolt of lightning at JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, North Carolina…. Irene Obera of Fremont, CA broke existing World and American records, and three other competitors broke U.S. marks.” Results are posted here. Superphotog Rob Jerome (whose shots are shared here) adds: “Irene … would have probably done 300 points better had she not caught her heal on the first hurdle in the first event and taken a nasty fall. But like the true champ she is, she got up, composed herself and went on to accomplish great things.”

Irene keeps her form in the concluding 800 event of her record pentathlon.

Irene keeps her form in the concluding 800 event of her record pentathlon.

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March 20, 2015  7 Comments

Alex Rotas joins the UK stable of superduper masters shooters

Lenslady Alex

Lenslady Alex

To the pantheon of British photographers who excel at masters track images, add Alex Rotas. She joins Tom Phillips and Lesley Richardson as sharp shooters of our niche. I learned of her via a wonderful video by Growing Bolder magazine. Alex is shown focusing on Florida’s Joe Johnston, the M70 vaulter with his own backyard training camp. Alex’s story is inspirational — she took up the camera late in life. Her new book — “Growing Old Competitively: Photographs of Masters Athletes” — looks like a keeper. It features American stars including Jeanne Daprano as well as some of the last shots of Olga Kotelko. Alex writes: “Although you become a ‘veteran’ in the sports world at the tender age of 35, my real interest lies in photographing athletes in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. These people demonstrate that ‘lifeyness’ (if I can call it that) and vigour do not necessarily decline with age. They show too that it’s possible to look wonderful without pretending to be younger than you are.” Welcome to the game, Alex! We’re honored to have you.

March 19, 2015  No Comments

Sally Gibbs cranks out nifty New Zealand W50 record for 1500

Catching up with the Kiwis, we learn that W50 Sally Gibbs of Katikati ran the 1500 in 4:45.94 at her outdoor masters nationals. That’s only 5 seconds off the listed world record of 4:40.7 by Denmark’s Gitte Karlshöj in 2009. It was one of many national records at Tauranga Domain as February turned to March. “The national event was being held in Tauranga for the first time since 2009, with 201 athletes competing in track and field events over three days.” the local paper said. “In all, there were 887 event entries. … At least 16 new national marks were set over the weekend – with more possible once the full results have been collated.” (Complete results are here.)

Sally Gibbs, a world champion middle-distance runner, was swift at nationals.

Sally Gibbs was 2013 Porto Alegre world champ in the 5K, 10K and marathon.

March 18, 2015  No Comments

Penn Relays entry info includes tough warning on age cheating

The Penn experience includes waiting to run.

The Penn experience includes waiting to run.

Phil Felton, masters events coordinator at the Penn Relays, sends this 2015 entry info and shares a stern warning: “Be prepared to verify your age if asked. Do not run if you are under the correct age on the day of the race; be prepared to be suspended (with your team) for many years if you are in violation.” He also writes: “Note that the timetable has changed significantly from previous years. As usual it is approximate at present and will probably change slightly. When the acceptance letters are sent out, I will confirm the schedule. If there are any changes to the arrangements, I will send the details with the acceptance letter. Good luck to those of you competing at nationals.” Penn is April 23-25.

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March 17, 2015  One Comment

Dutch masters claim 800, HJ WRs in Belgian indoor nationals

Riet is a riot. She does it all.

Riet is a riot. (Can’t wait to see her do the long hurdles.)

And the middle-distance beat goes on. According to results of Belgian indoor nationals in Ghent, W70 Riet Jonkers of Holland ran the 800 in 3:01.04 to lower the listed WR of 3:01.92 by Russia’s Rimma Vasina in 2011. (Her race is here. She beat some W55 ladies!) Also noteworthy: yet another WR in the high jump for Weia Reinboud, another Dutch master. She cleared 1.35 meters (4-5) to beat the listed W65 WR of 1.32 by Germany’s Ursula Stelling in 2008. Any other great marks I’ve missed?

March 16, 2015  One Comment

Smile for camera at N.C. nationals (but field-eventers may frown)

Just like at outdoor nationals, will post video of races at Winston-Salem indoor nationals this weekend. But I don’t expect field events in the mix. The archive will be here, we’re told by Matt Weingardt, USATF events manager out of Indy. Matt writes: “RunnerSpace has informed me that they will be uploaded ASAP, most by the end of each day.” Videos are so-so, but at least they keep a record of the event, and the audio captures Pete Taylor’s announcing well. Check out outdoor nationals videos from 2013 and 2014. At least they’re free. (Not all RunnerSpace content is gratis.)'s video archive is well-organized and described. Easy to find your race.’s archive is well-organized and described. Easy to find your race.

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March 15, 2015  2 Comments

Statmeister Gerard Dumas extends his own WR: 69 years as vaulter

Gerard clears 14 feet in 1966 during masters record days (and note the scrap foam pit).

Becca Gillespy Peter shares a recent note from Roger Ruth: “Most readers of PoleVaultPower would immediately recognize Gerard [Dumas] as a premier pole vault statistician, having gained that status in 45 years of valued contributions since he first provided assistance to Robert Ganslen in his 1970 seventh edition of ‘Mechanics of the Pole Vault.’ What would be far less well-known are details of Gerard’s own vaulting career, especially its almost unprecedented length of continuous participation. With his 80th birthday fast approaching, he now has vaulted in 1,127 meets, including at least two in every consecutive year for the past 69. That should rank as a world record in consecutive competitions. If you know of any other vaulter with equal or more, please provide the details.” I agree, and here’s my interview with him in 2007.

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March 14, 2015  7 Comments

Off to Kiddieworld and down USATF rabbit hole of Hersh debate

USATF Prez Stephanie Hightower: center of storm

The USATF board of directors is meeting Saturday in Santa Monica on the eve of the L.A. Marathon, and I’m going to be in the room. They may consider an issue causing an uproar in Kiddieworld (what I call elite USATF politics). At the Anaheim convention, the board rejected M75 Bob Hersh as America’s IAAF Council nominee — even though he’s been there for many years and got 85 percent support of USATF voting delegates. Instead, the board voted 11-1 to replace him with W55 USATF President Stephanie Hightower. For a taste of the drama, check out the T&FN message board thread. I’m covering the meeting for Times of San Diego (which turned a year old today).

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March 13, 2015  4 Comments

Anselm LeBourne eyes outdoor WRs in 8, 15, mile and maybe 3K

Only hours after claiming his fifth world record of the season Tuesday, M55 Anselm LeBourne was pounding out responses to my quickie Q&A. As if he didn’t have enough to do. (But thanks for the gracious reply, champ.) As you might expect, he’s not done with record attempts. The Hall of Famer says he’ll target outdoor world age-group records in the 800, 1500, mile and possibly 3000. (The listed WRs stand at 2:03.7, 4:12.35, 4:35.04 and 8:56.80.) Last June, he ran a nonratified 2:01.63 outdoors, so he just needs a sanctioned, kosher, cross-your-Ts-and-dot-your-I’s meet. He has several in mind — including one in Lyon, France.

Anselm finishes mile WR (4:34.79) at Armory. Photo via Armory site.

Anselm finishes mile WR (4:34.79) at Armory. Photo courtesy

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March 12, 2015  4 Comments