W45 star Erika Pierce is shining success at hurdling and life. Period.

Erika, shown in 2016, has her masters mojo after setting records and returning to hurdling.

Erika Pietrzak missed the 400 hurdle heats at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Trials (due to late notification) but was allowed to run in the semifinals on appeal. She was sixth in 59.56. Then she didn’t run again for 17 years. But now she’s back big time, and gets deserved attention in an ESPN profile written by my friend (and former Union-Tribune sports editor boss of 1999-2003) Doug Williams. Now known as Erika Pierce, this Virginia mom of two has captured my heart. She writes with courage, clarity and honesty in her old blog and recent essays. She wrote a few years ago: “I have a confession to make. I failed. Back in April, I made a goal. And I told lots of people about this goal. And I worked VERY hard to make my goal a reality. My goal? To break the American Record in the 400 hurdles in the W40 age group. I failed. I didn’t run 63.9. I ran 65.2.”

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March 29, 2018  Comments Closed

Lesley Hinz named USATF Athlete of the Week for Landover marks

USATF chose Lesley Hinz as its Athlete of the Week last week, but didn’t post the news until today (Wednesday) — 10 days after Landover nationals. Better late than never, Indy. We forgive you. (Here’s what site looked like Tuesday.) USATF wrote: “Lesley Hinz (Atlanta, Georgia) broke the women’s age 60-64 world indoor record in the 800 meters at the USATF Masters Indoor Championships at Landover, Maryland, to earn USATF Athlete of the Week. Hinz won by 22 seconds in 2:36.57 to break the previous WR of 2:37.67, set in 2012 by Britain’s Agnes Hitchmough. She also chopped more than three seconds off Kathy Martin’s existing American record. Hinz opened the meet with a dominant victory in the 400m, clocking 69.47 to win by almost seven seconds.” (She followed that up with a mile WR as well.)

Lesley ran (and dressed) like an elite kid at Landover. Photo by Dave Albo

March 28, 2018  3 Comments

M70 Charles Allie goes sub-60! Incredible indoor WR in the 400

Taking advantage of banked turns and pushed by a twentysomething, Charles Allie finally claimed his prize Friday at the Armory Track in New York: the M70 world indoor record at 400. He apparently became the second man to go sub-60 at 70-plus after Germany’s Guido Müeller, who ran 59.48 in 2010. Charlie’s time of 59.43 is worth an open mark of 43.5 (the IAAF indoor WR is a pedestrian 44.52 by Michael Norman at the recent NCAA meet.) A RunnerSpace interview teased out some details, but could have been more focused. In any case, Charlie smiled through it — as he always does. Nice couple of laps, Sir Charles. (The outdoor WR, Guido’s 59.34, is soon to be toast.)

Charles shows patience with RunnerSpace interviewer after Friday’s 400 WR.

March 24, 2018  33 Comments

Wolfgang Ritte adds to pole vault legend with M65 WR in Madrid

Here’s how you conserve energy, folks.

Germany’s Wolfgang “Masters Bubka” Ritte set his latest pole vault record this week in Madrid at the Eurovets indoor championships (see results here), having no misses through an M65 WR 3.96 (12-11 3/4) before missing three tries at 4.00 (13-1 1/2). He beat the listed WR of 3.86 (12-8) by American John Altendorf at the Reno summit in 2013. With 4,000 entrants, the meet ending Saturday has 4 million stories, I’m sure. Other world records reported include W70 800 and 3000 by Britain’s Angela Copson. (3:00.67 and 12:49.26), although she has faster clockings this season of 2:58.03 and 12:37.45). “She unwound the four laps with an aesthetic run and admirable lightness,” the Eurovets site reports. We’ve learned of M60 high jump WR. Lemme know of any others.

March 23, 2018  4 Comments

Lesley Hinz adds mile WR to Landover 800 WR with pacing help

In 1954, Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher helped pace Roger Bannister to the first sub-4 mile. On Tuesday night, M40 distance runner Craig Longhurst did his part for another mile record. Two days after setting a W60 world indoor record in the 800 at Landover nationals, Lesley Hinz clocked 5:43.75 at JDL Fast Track in North Carolina to smash the listed mile WR of 5:47.25 by Kathy Martin in 2014. (See results.) I queried Lesley (formerly Lesley Chaplin), and she graciously replied: “I have to thank Craig Longhurst, facility director of JDL Fast Track and his staff and officials for supporting this meet. Also a huge thank you to Cheryl Treworgy for coming to take pictures. We’ve been working really hard the past six months towards this past weekend, and I am so grateful that all our goals were accomplished. My husband, Tom, is my coach; I can’t thank him enough for all the time and effort he puts in to my training.”

Lesley Hinz gets suitable treatment for her mile WR at Winston-Salem, N.C.

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March 21, 2018  5 Comments

Landover coverage one for the ages — and proof we’ve matured

My job is done. No, I’m not retiring my blog. I’m acknowledging it isn’t the paper-of-record anymore. While I reserve the right to muck-rake and rant, I’m no longer worried about the future of masters track being showcased and spotlighted by major and social media. This was driven home by the marvelous and all-pervasive coverage of Landover nationals. The weekend’s meet was the most widely covered U.S. masters event in history, taking digital media into account. Photos by Dave Albo, Rob Jerome and Marleen Van Den Neste were beyond sensational. They moved us. Facebook shared hundreds of stories. Sandy Triolo’s USATFMastersTrack Twitter feed was incredible. In other words, my late-1990s cries in the darkness — when I begged USATF Masters national chair Barbara Kousky to tap the power of the Net — have been heard.

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March 19, 2018  13 Comments

Orville Rogers begins record rampage with M100 WR at 400

I’m not at Landover nationals, which began Friday, but I’m there vicariously via photos posted by Rob Jerome and Dave Albo on Facebook. The expected first M100 WR came when Texan Orville Rogers became the first centenarian to run a 400-meter dash indoors. His time of 4:16.90 is now something other super seniors can shoot for. (Look for more WRs later.) American records were set by several folks, but the USATF news release apparently overlooked Charlie Allie’s M70 AR in the 400: 60.52. That beats Bob Lida’s listed AR of 61.35 in 2007. (The listed WR is 59.48 by Germany’s Guido Müeller.) Lots of great pentathlon marks (results are here), including American records, at the best-attended indoor nationals in history (1,219 entrants).

March 16, 2018  4 Comments

M50 British thrower gets 4-year ban for refusing drug test at home

Read the report of Anti-Doping Tribunal (PDF)

David Burrell is no Roger Bannister. But in getting a four-year doping suspension from UK Athletics, he became a pioneer just the same. The 53-year-old thrower (specializing in javelin and discus) may be the first masters athlete sanctioned for refusing to take a surprise-visit urine test at his home. On Aug. 23, 2017, after getting up at 7:09 a.m., emptying his bladder and brushing his teeth, he heard the doorbell ring and a loud banging on the door, he told a three-person tribunal. The Doping Control Officer’s story differs from David’s, but the masters athlete indicated “that he had laughed at the DCO and told him that ‘this is not a random test, and I know why you are here.’” Turns out that David coached national champ javelinist Joanna Blair, who would be provisionally suspended in October 2017 after failing a doping test. The hearing panel explored every nook and cranny of the dueling accounts — including David’s contention that he had to get to work on time or risk losing his job, since he had an appraisal scheduled that day. The only thing they didn’t ask: Why in the name of God is a mediocre thrower subject to out-of-competition drug testing in the first place? This is chilling. (According to a USATF masters official, the nearest case to this was at Ohio masters nationals in 2011, “when an athlete walked away, essentially refusing a test and was later suspended.”) If the British practice of banging on your door for a drug test spreads to other countries, the nuisance will only lead to needless suspensions and drain masters budgets of valuable funds. David can return to competition in October 2021. Will WMA affiliates return to their senses?

March 11, 2018  23 Comments

Kim Collins, in final elite race, beats listed WR for M40 60 meters

Kim at 2016 Manchester meet.

Kim Collins ran 60 meters in 6.77 in the IAAF world indoor meet heats, then was a DNS in a semifinal won by kiddie WR man Christian Coleman. Now it seems Kim, at 41, is a DNS for life. He told reporters in Birmingham that he’s hanging up his spikes. “This is it. My last competition. I just can’t do it any more,” he said. He also joked about his interactions with rivals: “I keep telling them I could be their father so they need to give me some respect! Some of them don’t like it that their mum is my biggest fan — but it’s all fun and games.” He’s been a staple of these pages for years, for setting world age-group records: 9.93 for 100 as M40 and 6.47 for 60 indoor as M35. (His 6.77 at worlds also beats the listed WMA WR of 6.78 by Holland’s Troy Douglas in 2003. But Kim, of St. Kitts & Nevis, ran 6.60 a month earlier in Karlsruhe, Germany. Compare that with the Daegu WMA indoor winning times of 7.04 for M40 and 7.18 for M35.) I’ve learned never to say never, and I hope Kim gets the itch at 50 or beyond. He still has wheels. (But will someone make sure he gets credit for an M40 WR at 60?)

March 8, 2018  2 Comments

M100, W100 records should fall at Landover indoor nationals

Maybe Rob Jerome can use a fast shutter speed on Orville again as M100 newbie.

MTF Communications’ latest preview of masters nationals notes: “Julia Hawkins, a 102-year-old champ hailing from Baton Rouge, will be the oldest competitor in history at any USATF national championship she will run the 60m. Retired pilot from Hubbard, Texas, Orville Rogers, 100, will be the oldest man to compete at the meet this year and is expected to set a number of centenarian age group records. The oldest local competitor is Dixon Hemphill, a young 93, of Fairfax, VA, whom Rogers, ran with (albeit in different age groups) and narrowly beat in an exciting 60m dash in 2017 which was seen widely in a viral video.” But the biggest challenge involving the 60s is finishing before midnight. Close to 350 sprinters are entered. (The March 16-18 meet already is being touted as the biggest masters indoor nationals in U.S. history, with 1,200-plus entries.)

March 7, 2018  6 Comments