Christa with her top points award at Canadian nationals.
As Americans and old and new friends flood into Daegu for worlds this weekend, we should pause to appreciate last weekendâs Canadian masters nationals at Toronto Track & Field Centre at York University. Daegu-bound Christa Bortignon, who turned 80 in late January, set two world records as close to 260 entrants made it the largest indoor nationals up there in history. (See results here.) Christa long-jumped 3.02 meters (9-10 3/4) to beat the listed record of 2.92 (9-7) by Germanyâs Rosemarie Kreiskott in 2011 and triple-jumped 6.91 (22-8) to extend the listed WR of 6.33 (20-9 1/4) by Swedenâs Elsa Enarsson in 2011. Christa won six golds for the four-member Greyhound Track Club of British Columbia. (She also tied for the most points among women.) Sorry I canât join yâall in South Korea, but Iâm enjoying my Facebook feed. Looks like so much fun, and they have Dunkin Donuts, too! Ea âem up, Yanks, and I mean haul in the hardware. Daegu results will be here.
Pete Magill is the Bill Collins of distance comebacks. Let me explain. With his M55 American record Friday in the track 5K, Pete pulled off a 15:42.13 in the wake of fighting injuries from age 53 1/2 to 54 1/2, when âI wasnât sure Iâd ever come back strong,â he says. In Billâs case, his 2011 battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome led him to lose 41 pounds and an estimated 85 percent of his muscle mass. Then somehow Bill recovered and set sprint records several years later. All masters ride the roller coaster of rehab years and fit years. But Pete is a poster child for hurdling adversity. (Oughta try steeple, Pete!) I learned about the 5K AR on Facebook. (âLegs were still tired from Brea 8K 12 days ago. Will try to better that time later this spring. But a FUN race!â he wrote.) So after lowering Brian Pilcherâs listed record of 16:05.12 by 23 seconds, Pete got my usual shameless questions. He graciously replied with wonderful details, especially one worth cheering â that the Ben Brown meet at Cal State Fullerton had a designated official â the sainted Susan Harris â to handle record paperwork. Remember that Pete in 2011 famously swore off the paper chase. So how does he celebrate his latest 5K record? Pete praises his teammates.
Pete pushes to oldest sub-16 5K by an American. Photo by Diana Hernandez
Like a metric ton of bricks this hit. My inbox overflowed with the shocking news that Ed Whitlock, my email pal and Canadian track hero for years, had died at 86 of prostate cancer. A year ago, we were chatting about fetching M85 records in the 1500 and up. In the past eight years alone, Iâve gotten 114 notes from him (via his shared âewbwâ account with wife Brenda). He wasnât a glory hog by any means. He was merely responding to my gazillion requests for details on his latest track record (and sometimes marathon, which he was wont to do.) Edâs LDR feats are well-documented, including this obit by Runnerâs World. But his track records are stunning as well. Heâs the listed holder of 11 outdoor and 8 indoor world records. Mostly of the 1500/3000/5000/10,000 variety but also 4Ă4 relays. Today was going to be devoted to Pete Magillâs M55 American record in the 5K and Christa Bortignonâs two W80 WRs at Canadian indoor nationals. But thatâs on pause as we mourn a true great.
Ed resisted being called a role model and inspiration. But tough. He was.
But headlines are fair game, Disney fans. In a news releaseset to go live Monday, Peter Taylor and Bob Weiner share highlights of Team USA set for Daegu worlds starting March 19. One revelation is W75 Marie-Louise Michelson is âmaking a comeback after being away from the action for a while.â I covered some of her records, and sheâs a stud when healthy. [Sheâs still listed as having 15 American age-group records, indoors and out, including relays.]
Marie has range in the record chase â from 800 meters to upper distances.
Worst fears are realized. This reply came early Friday from WMA President Stan Perkins of Australia: âI have just received a formal notification from the Chinese Athletics Federation that the team who were to attend the WMA Indoors Championships to be held in Daegu have taken the decision to withdraw from the championships. This notification came in response to my inquiry as to whether reports that had been circulating advising a boycott was to be imposed was true or not. The notification specifically states that the decision was taken after âmost athletes and their families expressed concerns and worries about their participation in the championships.â Put bluntly, there is nothing that can be done to change this situation.â
Bad luck for Chinese athletes entered at Daegu worlds. According to news reports, like the Financial Times, China is throwing a hissy fit about an anti-missile system being deployed to South Korea and barring tourist travel from China to South Korea. The ban supposedly takes effect March 15, and the Daegu meet starts March 23. âBeijing has responded with increasing rancour to Seoulâs decision to deploy THAAD, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence platform,â said FT. âWhile South Korea insists the system is for defending itself against North Korean missiles, China fears the technology will allow an ally of the US to spy on its military developments.â Whatever. This could mean the closest country to South Korea with WMA affiliates is screwed. Iâm writing WMA and the LOC to see if they have any work-arounds in mind. Too bad Daegu-goers are caught in the middle.
Last May, USATF HQ suspended Chairman Lionel Leach of the USATF Youth Executive Committee and his entire panel. It didnât involve us, so I didnât report on the firestorm that ensued. But now that a National Athletics Board of Review panel has reinstated 12 members of the YEC (everyone but Lionel), itâs worth noting that a dissent was made. It came from W50 middle-distance star Alisa Harvey, who argued that Lionel should have been reinstated, too, and Indy messed up bigly. I wrote her, asking how she got involved in this high-profile case. She graciously replied: âI was chosen at random I believe because I was once the Potomac Valley Association Masters LDR Chair, back in 2013 and 2014. I received an email from Sarah Austin in the legal office of USATF one day last May. I said, âYes,â and things proceeded from there. I had no idea what the case would be. This was my first National Athletics Board of Review (NABR) Panel.â
Khalidâs 52.02 at ABQ beat the listed WR but not a pending 51.92 by Germanyâs Roland GrĂ¶ger.
Six years after setting a then-WR in the M45 400-meter dash at 2011 Berea nationals, Khalid Mulazim of Cleveland ran a spectacular indoor 51.21 in January â faster than any known M50 400 â better than Fred Sowerbyâs fabled 51.39 in 1999. Last weekend, he clocked a 52.02 in the masters exhibition at USATF Indoor Nationals. Turns out the 52.02 deserves supreme appreciation. In a quickie Q&A, Khalid graciously shared a secret about ABQ: He was sick â and told nobody but his wife. âI was shivering so badly that I almost passed out after I returned to the warmup area,â he told me Tuesday. âMy body was shutting down slowly.â But heâs one tough cookie â befitting his military roots. (Heâs in the Air Force Reserve.) He also shared why his 51.21 at the Spire Institute track in Geneva, Ohio, wonât be submitted for record consideration. Itâs a 300-meter indoor track â too big under USATF rules for an American record, where the limit is 200. Heâs well aware of the record books but isnât bragging. (Thatâs my job.) Below is his 400 WR from 2011 called by Peter Taylor.
Loris Reed is 69, Liz Wilson is 54 and Sally Gibbs is 53. Among them, they competed in at least 15 events at the New Zealand masters outdoor nationals over the weekend. (See results here.) Most of their races were in the 90-plus age-graded persentage. Great stuff (detailed below). Great hurdle marks spotted include M65 Laurie Malcolmson, who ran 300s in 49.06, and M50 Paul Daborn, who ran 400s in 1:03.28, edging Jack OâConnorâs 1:04.84. My favorite event was a mixed-sex 100-meter handicap race, won by W55 Jill Hayman in 12.68 (but keep in mind she didnât run a full 100; had a head start. Two heats were run, judging by wind readings) The meet also contested the 60 in addition to the 100, giving Daegu-goers a sense of their fitness or at least letting them compare themselves with Yanks and Eurovets.
Results of mixed-sex 100 handicap 100-meter dash at Saxton Track in Nelson.
Two masters-age athletes competed in open championships Sunday â both taking second to men eight years younger. In Albuquerque, M50 Khalid Mulazim was beating Southwest Sprinters TC teammate Gabriel Fuzat at the 200, but lost to Gabriel in the 400 exhibition at the USA Indoor Nationals, 51.58 to 52.02. But Khalidâs mark beat Mike Sullivanâs listed American record of 52.44 from 2011 nationals, also at ABQ. It fell just short of the pending WR of 51.92 by Germanyâs Roland GrĂ¶ger. In Belgrade, M40 Fabrizio Donato triple-jumped a stunning 17.13 meters (56-2 1/2) at the European Championships to claim the longest hop-step-and-jump indoors and out over 40. The listed M40 outdoor WR is 16.58 (54-4 3/4) by Ray Kimble in 1993. The listed M40 indoor WR is Rayâs 16.08 (52-9 1/4). So Fabrizio beat the age-group indoor record by a monster 2 1/3 feet! On the age-graded tables, itâs worth 18.37 â 60-3 1/4. Incredible. In the masters womenâs 1000 at ABQ, W45 Sonja Friend-Uhl ran by herself, leading from the start and finishing in 2:56.65 â 17 seconds ahead of W50 Lisa Valle, a world-record steepler. No official records are kept in the 1K, but Sonjaâs mark could be the best for her group.
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and web-master since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials, the last three as a blogger and Patch correspondent. [More...]