Famed Bob Boal Masters Meet dies at 46; once great in Southeast

Bob Boal was a pioneer.

In 1969, M55 miler Bob Boal traveled from North Carolina to San Diego, where he would meet his son returning from Vietnam. He took advantage of the trip to compete in the second U.S. masters nationals. It delighted him. “I came home sort of like a missionary,” he said, and soon launched his own masters meet — the first in his region. In 1971, the first Southeastern Masters Track and Field Championships drew 80 entrants to Raleigh, North Carolina. Later renamed after Bob Boal — who died in 2005 at age 93 — the meet became one of the biggest and best on the masters circuit. Len Olson’s “Masters Track and Field: A History” says: “Boal also fought to break down gender barriers. His [meet] led the way in accepting women in all events and age groups.” But after being canceled in 2016, it ran into more problems in 2017. Now it’s been officially declared dead. At least the USATF Southeastern Regional Masters Championships live on. (They once were held concurrently with the Boal meet.) I contacted Don Lein, president of the nonprofit that put on the meet, and Bill Murray, the USATF Southeastern Regional Masters coordinator. They shared details of the demise — mainly lack of a suitable host. “It is a shame to lose such a wonderful tradition like his meet,” Bill told me. “It is impossible to host a meet when you don’t have a competent venue available.”

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February 27, 2017  13 Comments

See M50 French sprinter’s 7-point plan to improve WMA worlds

It’s not exactly the Storming of the Bastille, but a 1,300-word comment posted by M50 sprinter/hurdler Francois Bontemps is the equivalent for our sport. He shared a note sent to World Masters Athletics on how to improve world meets. His manifesto makes total sense. It’s reprinted below, slightly edited, since he wrote in a second language. Francois barely missed making the 200-meter final at 2015 Lyon worlds, so he’s a serious athlete. He shares the name of a famous general, so I think WMA should lissen up — lest the 21st century Francois lead another charge of the ramparts.

WMA 2017 isn’t Paris 1789, but masters athletes have their grievances.

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February 26, 2017  8 Comments

Kathy Martin modestly notes 3K WR a month before ABQ nationals

USATF named Kathy Athlete of the Week on Friday.

Five years ago, Kathy Martin was profiled by The New York Times. A newbie W60, she was mowing down age-group records. The video below shows her setting the 3K indoor record (11:16.50) at the Armory on Jan. 19, 2012. A week short of five years later, Jan. 12, Kathy returned to the Fort Washington Avenue track and ran the 3K again. Same result: a WR of 11:37.19. I wasn’t aware of this when she clocked 11:53.32 at ABQ nationals, which was depicted as an American record. (The WR she broke was Angela Copson’s 11:49.53.) Freshly minted as USATF Athlete of the Week, Kathy graciously shared some thoughts in a quickie Q&A. And that’s where I learned of her incredible 11:37. I asked her which if her three records at nationals was toughest, and she replied: “3000 at about lap 11 I was struggling for air and times showed it. I had run 11:37 in Armory.” There’s humble Kathy for you. But she’s still ambitious. Check out her list of potential records in 2017.

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February 25, 2017  3 Comments

Best race of ABQ nationals? Orville’s comeback vs. Dixon in 60m

Dave Albo shot of Orville (left) and Dixon.

The most dramatic race at ABQ gets proper retelling on Runner’s World. Kit Fox ran down M99 Orville Rogers and M92 Dixon Hemphill about their stirring 60-meter dash showdown, which Orville won by an eyelash. “Dixon Hemphill wishes he would have simply leaned at the finish. Maybe he didn’t do it because of lack of experience — he was, after all, the youngest of the two competitors in the race. Or maybe he didn’t do it because of his replacement hip,” Kit writes, quoting Dixon: “I think had I leaned a little bit, I would have won.” In fact, the video suggests he was leaning backward at the finish. Orville just barely nipped him in the last few yards. “Rogers has defeated Hemphill in the 60-meter-dash at the USATF Indoor Championships four years in a row,” the story says. They expect to meet again at Baton Rouge this summer. “I know I can improve for the future,” Dixon said. “There is training that I am not doing that I should.”

February 24, 2017  6 Comments

Daegu worlds detailed schedule posted soon after French complaint

Notice is posted on Daegu site.

Last weekend, M50 French multi-eventer Francois Bontemps posted on Facebook: “In four weeks, most of us will be in Daegu … but detailed schedule is not available yet … This is not correct for an event qualified as ‘Official World Championship.’” Mission accomplished, Francois. The timetable appears to be up now. (See it here.) Meanwhile, WMA is reminding folks about the TUE drill. If you take medications for quality of life or whatever, get an OK to use them. I’m still looking for complete results for Indian masters nationals, but I also found what I think are WMA Prez Stan Perkins and Aussie wife Wilma in turbans at the opening ceremonies. Check out this little-seen video. I guess the Perkinses are taking the grand tour of Asia before heading to South Korea. On WMA’s dime? We’d like to know.

Stan and Wilma Perkins in India? Only their hairdresser knows for sure.

February 23, 2017  4 Comments

India’s masters nationals claims 4,000 entrants — but no results?

Silver-haired Indian dude competing at 2012 Indian masters nationals in Bangalore.

What if USATF masters nationals drew 4,000 athletes but after two days posted no results? You’d have a riot. But that appears to be the case for the Masters Athletics Association of India nationals in Hyderabad, the capital of the southern state of Telangana. At least the federation website is mum on marks. We also learn from a state paper that the meet, which began Tuesday and ends Saturday, almost didn’t happen. It was scheduled elsewhere. “(MAFI) secretary David Premnath lauded the State for coming forward to host the event after Kerala backed out from the hosting in the last moment. … ‘We didn’t have much time. This event is prestigious event for us as the Indian team for this year’s Asian Masters Championship scheduled to be held in China will be selected from this championship.’” Yeah, they’re still promoting the fiction that WMA meets require qualifications. I think what they mean to say is India will help pay the way of certain folks. Whatever.

February 22, 2017  No Comments

M35 and M80 WRs in 4×200 highlight relay action at ABQ nationals

M80 WR guys (from left) in Facebook photo: Whilden, Kaspari, Cozens and Lida.

At least two world indoor records were set in relays at ABQ nationals, including the M35 4×200 (equaling a 2015 mark by a British quartet) and the M80 4×200 that included superstuds Bob Lida and Bobby Whilden (whose Houston Elite team took a monster 10 seconds off the listed WMA record of 2:21.50 by a German team in 2011). The Southwest Sprinters TC squad had 41-year-old Antwon Dussett, who dropped down an age group to join Jassiel Torres (39), Dedrick Clark (38) and Sean Burnett (35) in their WR-tying 1:29.74. (I led off my old Omaha high school team’s 1:30, outdoors, so I’m in awe.) Other (mostly club) American records were set by the W35 4×2 team from So Cal Track Club, W40 4×2 Southwest Sprinters, W50 4×2 Athena Track Club, M45 4×2 Southwest Sprinters, M50 4×2 Southwest Sprinters and W40 4×4 Southwest Sprinters. Quadruple whew! Lemme know if I missed anyone.

Dave Albo shot of Southwest Sprinters reacting to Latrica Dendy finish time in W40 4×4. Others are Rachel Guest, Cynthia McNamee and Vanessa Juarez.

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February 21, 2017  4 Comments

Orville Rogers was ABQ ironman; won 60, 200, 400, 800 and mile!

Dave Albo shot Orville (and his fans) in mile.

Orville Rogers at 99 wasn’t cut any slack at ABQ nationals. In his 60-meter dash, he had to push to beat M90 Dixon Hemphill in a photo finish — 18.00 to 18.05. Orville also won the 200 (1:24.54), 400 (4:08.88), 800 (8:58.40) and mile (19:23.23). Whew! In the mile, where he holds the M95 world record of 14:39.91, he ran negative splits — doing the first half in 9:55.7 and the second in 9:27.5. Double whew! On the Age-Graded Tables, his times were equivalent to these for open (20-30) athletes: 60 (4.99 seconds!), 200 (22.75), 400 (63.99), 800 (2:18.37) and mile (4:09.2). So he’s a natural sprinter after all — who knows how to pace himself. He turns 100 in late November, so he’ll be using this season to sharpen up for an attack on M100 records in 2018. WMA doesn’t list M100 records in these indoor events: 200, 400, 800, 1500, mile and 3000. WMA lacks outdoor M100 WRs in these Orville-possible events: 800, mile, 3000, 5000, 10K (no M95 either). So unless Wilbur gets there first, he’ll be our First in Centenarian Flight. Go, Orville, go!

Orville’s 200 splits in mile show he handled mile high elevation quite well.

February 20, 2017  One Comment

Bob Lida claiming Jordan title as world’s greatest 80-plus sprinter

Bob is unpressed in ABQ 200 WR. USATF photo

Had World War II not intervened, Payton Jordan would have been a medal favorite in the 1940 and 1944 Games. But Payton became a legend anyway — as an Olympic and Stanford coach and a world-record sprinter into his early 80s. Twenty years ago, when I began covering masters and seeing Payton run, nobody could fathom anyone going faster than him at 80. Now we have Bob Lida, my Kansas Jayhawk buddy. And Payton has been beaten again. At ABQ nationals Sunday, Bob ran the 200 in an M80 indoor world record 29.84, beating even Payton’s outdoor AR of 30.89 from 1997. Bob’s a lock for the outdoor WR, which is listed as 29.54 by Japan’s Hisamitsu Hijiya. On Friday, Bob claimed the 400 indoor American record with his 1:13.34. (The listed WR is Earl Fee’s 1:11.24. The listed outdoor WR is Hisamitsu’s 70.01.) Bob now owns 10 outdoor and 10 indoor ARs, including relays. He holds four indoor WRs and three outdoor WRs. Even if the mile elevation cut down wind resistance, his sub-30 at 80 is astonishing. And in case you missed it, Kathy Martin set her second world record of the meet Saturday in the 800, clocking 2:44.35 five months after turning 65. USATF’s Ashlee Mitchell noted other records in her Day 3 release below.

Here’s Dave Albo shot of Bob at ABQ nationals, apparently near the 200 start.

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February 19, 2017  4 Comments

Kathy Martin’s W65 mile WR sets up incredible finish: 800 as well?

Kathy at ABQ has 800 left. Photo by Dave Albo

Kathy Martin is in real estate, with the slogan “miles ahead of the competition. That was never so true as on Day 2 of ABQ nationals, where she set a W65 world record of 6:01.46 for the mile. On the Age-Graded Tables, her mark Saturday is worth 4:06 for 20-30 age group. Talk about insane. So now that she’s guaranteed USATF Athlete of the Week, the only question is by how much she’ll crush the 800-meter record Sunday, if she has any gas left. The listed indoor American record is 2:52.49 by Marie Michelsohn at 2007 Boston nationals. (It was Marie’s 3K record that Kathy broke Friday.) The listed W65 WR is 2:47.75 by Germany’s Lydia Ritter. At Perth worlds four months ago, Kathy was silver medalist in the 800 with a time of 2:41.34. Anyone think she won’t do the middle-distance record trifecta? Also kudos to M45 Derek Pye and M55 Karl Smith, who both set age-group PRs in the 60-meter hurdles. They also happen to be world records, since they both bettered their own marks of last year or this season. And stay tuned for Kathy’s outdoor WRs. Among others, she’ll likely improve the mile WR of 5:54.59. Hope she sells some homes as well.

Kathy’s 200 splits in W65 world record mile were amazing as usual.

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February 18, 2017  5 Comments