USA vs. Britain Multi-Event Challenge doubles as USATF nationals

Every summer for at least a dozen years, the USATF Masters Combined Events Championships have been held about a month before masters outdoor nationals. Sometimes the meet (dec and hep) follow nationals. But they’ve also been a foreign draw, being called the USA vs. Great Britain Multi-Event Challenge. Jeff “Decamouse” Watry details the next edition, set July 5-6 in Neosho, Missouri (not far from Joplin and my first journalistic posting at Lamar). Jeff writes: “The Multi-Event Challenge is held every four years in conjunction with our national championships when a group of competitors arrives from Great Britain. We pair guests with someone of similar ability from the U. S. and add total scores from all the paired athletes. Not all of us will be paired with a guest, but all of us can enjoy the spirit of the competition and get to know some new friends. In two years we will have a chance to journey to Great Britain and participate in their national meet. So whether you are paired or not, welcome our friends from across the sea.” He shared an info sheet and an entry form. Wish the meet were important enough to rate a mention in the USATF list of national championships.

Facebook shot of Neosho High track, site of USATF masters dec/hep meet.

Facebook shot of Neosho High track, site of USATF masters dec/hep meet.

April 7, 2014  2 Comments

Jess Brewer unveils Age-Graded calculator with 2014 WMA factors

Simple like Google but with tons of data behind it.

Simple like Google but with tons of data behind it.

As legend has it, Jess Brewer posted a note to an ancient track message board about crossing some desert to masters track. And then Ken Stone said aha, and started a website. (The legends are true, BTW.) But Saint Jess isn’t done inspiring. His latest miracle is taking the new WMA Age Factors and fashioning a new, improved Age-Graded Tables online. This is the first revision since 2010. I once called this the Holy Grail of masters track. Now it’s taken for granted. I’ve been using Professor Howard Grubb’s AGT calculator for years (often to comedic effect). But Age-Graded Tables, despite their entertainment value, are serious efforts to let people of different ages know how they compare. It’s also the only way to officially score multi-events. (The Age Factors help WMA meets calculate point scores. See the raw factors down this page.) Jess says his latest lookup form is a work-in-progress, a “pre-alpha” release. He wants athletes to try the and form out and let him know “specifics” of any bugs or glitches. Jess further writes: “Seems to work for the simple stuff, but it’s screwing up for (SOME) events where distances change with age, e.g. M65 [long hurdles].” So be aware of that.

April 6, 2014  21 Comments

Mongolian masters track! How I love writing alliterative headlines

Apparently color photography hasn’t reached Mongolia media yet. But gold is still gold.

WMA is doing its job. One of its missions is getting more nations involved in masters track. Mission accomplished with Mongolia! The UB Post out of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, reports (with crazy inconsistency): “Mongolian master athlete T. Tserendolgor, 76, won gold medals in three contests of the World Master Athletics Championships 2014. She won the M45 shot put, M60 javelin throw and M70 discus throw which took place on March 26. T. Tserendolgor is one of the few experienced athletes of the Mongolian Athletics Association. She previously participated in tournaments held in Brazil and European countries, and won a total of 12 gold, 21 silver and 9 bronze medals in total.)” The results site (with a set of boogered PDFs that don’t open properly) confirms her marks. See below. Her first name appears to be Tumurbat. And she wasn’t the only Mongolian in Budapest. Also competing was W55 thrower Altantsetseg Ayush. No Mongolian men apparently. So this makes Mongolia even better than Team USA for winning medals — But not as good as Moldova, where all its entrants medaled. (What’s with those M-nations?) Turns out Tserendolgor has been around for years, competing at the Asian Masters Championships in 2006 and the Sydney World Masters Games in 2009, for example. She must have some M-oney!
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April 5, 2014  One Comment

Joanna Harper defends USATF amid Albuquerquegate fiasco

Criticizing USATF is a cottage industry these days. (I own the patent, trust me.) The crazy disqualifications and reinstatements at Albuquerque open nationals have led some, especially this Facebook page, to call for Max Siegel’s head on a javelin. Max is CEO of USATF, and he’s perceived to be in bed with Nike. Still, not all denizens of Trackandfieldland are marching on Indy. In a brave post on Women Running Together, masters race organizer Joanna Harper writes: “I understand the frustrations of people over certain aspects of USATF, and some of their rulings. I would urge everyone to take a step back and to realize that, for the most the part, the organization is composed of good people who are trying to do their best for the sport.” She cites examples of helpful interactions. And she says: “I have encountered other USATF personnel and volunteers, and I have been generally impressed their abilities, and with their commitment to the sport. I personally appreciate the opportunity to compete, and the way in which various USATF people have enriched my life by facilitating these competitions.” Basically, she’s saying: Don’t tar all of USATF for the foibles of a few. Sensible advice?

Nike coach Alberto Salazar was at center of L'Affaire DQ.

Nike coach Alberto Salazar was at the center of L’Affaire DQ.

April 4, 2014  One Comment

Close to a third of entered Americans won medals at Budapest

Myrle was lucky enough to get a shot of herself with WR on scoreboard.

Myrle was lucky enough to get a shot of herself with WR on scoreboard in Budapest.

Eighteen Americans won world championships in Budapest — in 21 events. Three were triple gold medalists — Charles Allie (60, 200 and relay), Bill Collins (60, 200 and relay) and Joy Upshaw (60 hurdles, 200 and relay). Double gold went to Nick Berra (800 and 1500), Charmaine Roberts (400 and 800) and Thad Wilson (60 hurdles and relay). That’s my reading of Mary Trotto’s list of Team USA medalists. Mary, our Awards Committee chair, also counts 20 Americans with silver medals (in 19 events) and 17 adding bronze. I count (haphazardly) 42 Yanks with hardware. Since about 138 of us competed at worlds, that’s a batting average of .304. Did any other nation come close? Perhaps the most historic performer was W65 Myrle Mensey, whose weight throw gold of 16.91 meters (55-5 3/4) upped her own world indoor record. And in taking silver in the outdoor hammer (excellent weather, she says), Myrle set an American record of 37.08 (121-8). That beat the listed AR of 35.93 (117-10) by Carol Young in 2005. No surprise for the 2013 USATF Female Masters Athlete of the Year. Have I missed any other records set by Americans?

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April 3, 2014  9 Comments

Seto adds Budapest results to 2014 world masters rankings

Americans held down three lanes in M55 400 final at Budapest. See more photos by Doug Smith

Database guru John Seto, our new hero, has imported close to 6,700 results from Budapest worlds into his world masters rankings site. See the indoor results here. (Outdoor results from Budapest have separate link.) The lists even include prelim times, so you’ll see double plants under some names. But no matter. This is a lot easier to navigate than the Budapest results site, where you have to search for an event and then fiddle with the tabs and screens to view the event results. A cool feature of the Seto site is you can click on country name and see Budapest results for just that nation. Take USA, for example. Of course, you can drill down to any athlete as well. Here’s our fearless leader’s page — for USATF masters national chairman Gary Snyder. Egg John on by slipping him a donation.

April 2, 2014  20 Comments

4 WRs in 4×200 relays at Budapest; Germans led with 7 golds

W50 gold medalists for USA: Shemayne Williams, Lorraine Jasper, Debra Hoffman and Joy Upshaw.

Munich is about 350 miles from Budapest, so it’s no wonder the Germans were well-represented at worlds (aka Earth’s Biggest Indoor All-Comers Meet). Their roster was about four times the size of Team USA. But give the Germans credit for showing up, especially on Sunday — relay day. Only the 4×200 was contested. (Easier to manage with each runner doing a lap.) Germany won seven relay golds, followed by Great Britain-Northern Ireland’s six and America’s two (M60 with Bill Collins and W50 with Joy Upshaw). Guido Müller anchored the M75 German team to one of four world relay records set at the SYMA Sport and Event Center, a 2:00.58 to beat the listed WR of 2:03.45 by an American team anchored by Bob Lida in 2012. The Germans added a WR in the W65 race, clocking 2:05.79 to beat the listed WR of 2:13.38 by another German team at 2004 Sindelfingen worlds. The United Kingdom produced the other WRs — in W60 (2:05.79) and M55 (1:40.58), beating listed marks of 2:10.44 and 1:41.47 (both by the Brits).

Budapest worlds, held in these walls, may have been best WMA indoor meet.

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April 1, 2014  8 Comments

Olga Kotelko went bonkers in Budapest (nine W95 world records)

In the 2010 movie “Herbstgold,” Italy’s Gabre Gabric is shown being peeved at Lahti worlds. She got beat in the W90 discus by Canada’s Olga Kotelko. But Olga stole the scene by comforting her rival and reminding her that, at 94, Gabre gave away a few years. Gabre got her revenge this week. In 10 events at Budapest worlds, Olga set W95 world indoor or outdoor records in nine. The only record she missed? Gabre’s W95 WR in the discus, set a year after Lahti. But Olga returns home to Vancouver with 10 gold medals out of a potential 12. (She skipped the 400 and 800.) Had she run the longer races, she would have been piling on. None of that for modest Olga. Instead, she merely became the oldest female sprinter indoors (along with oldest lady high jumper, long jumper and triple jumper). Even her coach was awesome. Harold Morioka, a legend in masters track, took fourth in the M70 400 with his 70.63 less than four years after open heart surgery and three months after his SIXTH knee operation. (Another comebacker, American Larry Barnum, won gold in 63.81 in that race.)

Rob Jerome caught Olga in her best triple jump at Budapest. Yet another W95 WR.

Rob Jerome caught Olga in her best triple jump at Budapest. Yet another WR.

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March 31, 2014  7 Comments

USATF offer: First-timers can get ‘grants’ to attend N.C. nationals

Latest issue of NMN

Latest issue of NMN

At 2013 Olathe nationals, Masters National Chairman Gary Snyder proposed a program that would pay travel and lodging expenses to 2014 outdoor masters nationals for first-time competitors. In the wonderful April issue of National Masters News, the offer was announced (top right of page 13). It’s unclear how much the “incentive” grants are. But here’s the deal: If you’ve never competed at an indoor or outdoor masters nationals and you have a USATF membership, you can get the money “on a first come first served” basis. Gary and others are kicking in nearly $1,500, along with funding from the Winston-Salem LOC. The NMN issue, the second under new publishers Amanda Scotti and Tish Ceccarelli, is a revelation, too. Besides the usual columnists (Mike Tymn, Nancy Clark, Cathy Utzschneider and Jerry Bookin-Weiner), we see a great Q&A with masters rankings guru John Seto. He appears under the column heading “Unsung Heroes,” which the publishers promise to be a regular feature spotlighting officials and volunteers. Amanda and Tish also are soliciting tales from “common” athletes, addressing a complaint that elites get too much ink. Great idea. Send them to: Who to contact about the travel-and-lodging offer? Gary doesn’t say, but writes: “Detailed information on how to apply for a grant will be sent via email to all USATF members and National Senior Games athletes.”

Click on the image to read Gary Snyder's offer of free travel and lodging to 2014 nationals.

Click on image to read offer of free travel and lodging to 2014 nationals.

March 30, 2014  10 Comments

One-lap wonders: WRs to Del Grande, Mazzenga and Kotelko

Shaggy's shot of fellow Canadian Karla.

Shaggy’s shot of fellow Canadian Karla.

I’ve lost count of the world records at Budapest worlds, with Canada’s Olga Kotelko and Karla Del Grande and Italy’s Emma Mazzenga setting new standards in the 200s Friday. (An earlier posting incorrectly said Guido Müller set a WR, too. Oops, my bad. Bob Lida’s record of 27.64 is still best.) But I can’t overlook top performers with cameras. Besides Robert Jerome, whose shots have been featured here, Tom Phillips has been tweeting jaw-dopping images, and Doug “Shaggy” Smith has been posting photos to Facebook. Tom is UK-focused and Doug Canada-centric. But they also feature stars from other countries. Tom’s shots also colorize Athletics Weekly’s coverage of worlds. Oh, and the latest stunning WRs in the deuce? Emma’s 39.52 at 80 (lowering her own WR); Karla’s 28.23 at 60 (off her own outdoor WR of 28.11) and Olga’s 74.14 at 95 (the oldest indoor deuce in history and faster than the listed W95 outdoor WR of 79.96 by Japan’s Katsuko Iwaki). Guido ran 27.99, but that’s three-tenths off Bob’s indoor best. Also congrats to Americans Jeanne Daprano, who defended her W75 title from 2012 Jyväskylä worlds; Charles Allie, whose 25.44 just missed his own M65 WR from a year ago; Bill Collins, the oldest man in the M60 field at 63 and whose 24.70 was close to his own WR of 24.32; and Joy Upshaw, who at 53 won gold in 26.73 (her own WR is 26.24).

Tom Phillips caught Guido at start of WR  200 — only because Tom just missed making the M55 final.

Tom Phillips caught Guido at start of 200 — only because Tom missed making the M55 final by five-thousandths of a second with his 26.908.

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March 29, 2014  10 Comments