W75 Marie-Louise Michelson pulled off a Daegu double-double

W65 Marie was a beast at 2008 Spokane nationals.

A month ago, I noted a surprise (to me) American entrant at Daegu — W75 superstar Marie-Louise Michelson. She didn’t show up in last year’s rankings. Now we know why: “I took 2016 off from track in order to do triathlons,” she writes. “I did five of them.” At Daegu, she did a quad — four events in two days. She called it the double-double — 200 and 800 on Thursday and 400 and 1500 a couple days later. (She’s also listed as DNF in the 3000.) The fields weren’t big, but I’m still in awe of anyone who goes back-to-back in sprints and middle distances. She offered how it felt to compete at worlds: “I really loved it. Instead of doing it like a masters runner — running to see what kind of time I could maintain — it felt like I was a high school student or college student at a meet – recruited to compete in four races at a track meet for the team and having to figure out how to hold back in order to win all four. I wasn’t sure how I’d hold up by the last one – the 1500. In fact, it took a couple of laps until I had my legs.”

Here’s how Marie-Louise ranked nationally in 2016 in W75 triathlon. Good 4U!

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April 6, 2017  2 Comments

Major meet spiked? WMA regional ‘declined’ by host Juarez, Mexico

The North, Central and Caribbean WMA Championships in Juarez, Mexico, have been canceled, according to a letter provided by a Mexican source. The July 20-23 meet — my subject of scrutiny for safety reasons in January — has been “declined,” writes city Parks and Recs guy Javier Ibarra Molina. The letter is dated April 3 and addressed to NCCWMA President Sandy Pashkin, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. I’m still awaiting a reply from WMA President Stan Perkins and USATF Masters Chair Rex Harvey. My main questions: Will entrants get their money back, and will the meet be moved somewhere else? Stay tuned for more.

Letter to Sandy Pashkin seems to say the WMA regional meet in Juarez is kaput.

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April 5, 2017  24 Comments

Bob Lida: ‘Nothing more exhilarating than running as fast as I can’

Bob Lida (right) was pictured in The New York Times five years ago.

For all his honors — including 2012 WMA Best Male Athlete of the Year — one recognition eluded Bob Lida until last last week. That’s when he won his first USATF Athlete of the Week title. How did he hear of it? “Friend of mine, who is the athletic director at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, posted it on Facebook,” Bob writes. “Complete surprise to me.” In a quickie Q&A, I asked Bob what this meant to him. He graciously replied: “Obviously, it’s a personal honor, as so many outstanding people have received it the past. But I’m just as pleased that USATF is recognizing what we do, and achieve, in masters track. The more recognition the masters program receives, the better it is for all of us.”

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April 4, 2017  8 Comments

Christa Bortignon pulls off triple double — WRs in LJ and TJ 3 times

Christa and her TJ WR. Photo by Attilio Bortignon

World Female Athlete of the Year (2013) Christa Bortignon of Vancouver, British Columbia, has made up for what she calls her “terrible 2016 season,” which included pneumonia and a hip issue. In three weeks — March 11 to April 2 — she competed in three meets and 17 events, including Daegu worlds. She won 17 golds and set world records in the W80 long and triple jumps in every meet. “Now I will take a break,” Christa tells me. That gives us time to catch up with her latest WRs — at the BC masters indoor championships over the weekend in Kamloops. (See results here.) There she extended her LJ jump WR to 3.28 meters (10-9) and TJ WR to 7.42 (24-4 1/4). Just for giggles, she tossed a Canadian record in the shot of 6.76 (22-2 1/4). (For all of that, she was named Canadian Masters Athlete of the Month.) I wrote Christa for details. She graciously replied.

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April 3, 2017  6 Comments

Wyoming’s Charlie Powell on WR relay is mystery man no more

Charlie helps run city of 56,000 in Wyoming. Photo by Alan Rogers, Casper Star-Tribune

When I reported the M65 world record 4×2 relay at Daegu, I referred to the U.S. squad as a “dream team.” In fact, I didn’t know much about one member — Charlie Powell. Now we do, thanks to his local paper in Casper, Wyoming. Turns out that Charlie, a “psychologist by trade,” is a former mayor and current councilman — a combination of long sprinter Larry Barnum and Carroll DeWeese. The story says: “Powell ran high school track and has participated in the Cowboy State Games but said he didn’t get involved in national competitions until he turned 40.” I looked up his results at ABQ and Daegu. He’s definitely a stud.

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April 2, 2017  2 Comments

Daegu’s main arena called heavenly, but ‘Stadium B’ not so hot

Space heaters like this one provided the only warmth at the frigid Stadium B.

Austrian walker Franz Kropik called Daegu “one of the best, maybe the best, championship I’ve ever seen!” Photographer Rob Jerome raved: “Everything ran on time. The officials and assistants were particularly skillful and helpful. Signs were in multiple languages, and even the transportation system was easy to use. Assistants were everywhere and eager to help.” The main arena was a space-age wonder, but “Stadium B” — the Daegu Life Sports Center — was something out of the Dark Ages. Or maybe the Ice Age. Former USATF Masters national chairman George Mathews called it “terribly cold.” He said big doors were left open “supposedly since it was an extension of the warmup straightaway that didn’t seem to be used on the outside portion.” The chill “definitely affected” his performance. (He took bronze in the M70 weight throw.) “Had to wear multiple layers of clothing, which constricted my movement. Wonder if it was heated at all. They had some electric heaters, which were for the officials. Also, it was up a very steep hill, which took away energy to get there. No shuttle up the hill” for the jumpers and throwers assigned there.

Athletes report cold conditions inside this arena for jumps and throws.

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April 1, 2017  7 Comments

M80 Bob Lida named USATF Athlete of the Week for Daegu WRs

Bob Lida of Wichita wasn’t in Kansas anymore. South Korea was about as far as you get from Dorothy and Toto Land. In fact, Bob was the Wizard of Daegu — setting M80 world records in the 200 and 400. And topping off the week, he was named USATF Athlete of the Week. “Lida surpassed his own M80 200m WR, clocking 29.15 to easily take down his 29.84 from the USATF Masters Indoor Championships in Albuquerque last month,” USATF said. “Lida then took down the listed M80 400m world record of 1:11.24 (Earl Fee, Canada, 2009), finishing in 1:10.20. In addition, Lida won gold in the 60m also helped secure top honors in the 4x200m relay. Lida’s world-class performances contributed to Team USATF’s 42 gold and 108 total medals. USA came in third overall, out of 74 nations and more than 4,600 athletes, behind Australia and Great Britain.”

Bob also won the 60 and helped Team USA take the 4×2. Rob Jerome photo

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March 31, 2017  3 Comments

That’s the way of worlds, son — it’s a souped-up all-comers meet

Jay Stone of Australia won two gold medals at Daegu. Nice! Congrats. But don’t expect his local paper to provide details. Like how old he is, or what his times were. Trivial stuff. But Jay is a great illustration of the all-comers-meet nature of worlds. It’s not his fault that his M35 group was weak. He won the 200 in 22.68 and the 400 in 50.25. But those marks would have gotten third and second in the M40 2 and 4, respectively. “For the experienced short-distance runner, he entered the event as a rookie, having never raced on an indoor track before,” the story says, and quoted Jay: “It was very different, I hadn’t done any indoor racing before, so it was something completely new for me. I did have the opportunity to sneak on to the track for a very light training session the day I arrived. And that was invaluable because I had my 200 metre heat the next day and otherwise I would have gone in completely blind.”

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March 30, 2017  One Comment

Sumi Onodera-Leonard dies at 88; small champ with biggest heart

Mark Cleary sends very sad news: “Sumi Onodera-Leonard passed away on Saturday, March 25, around 5:30pm. She was an active member of the SoCal Track Club since 2002. She set several age group American records (even world records as a W80) and won countless national titles as recently as 2016. Sumi was inducted into the Masters USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 2006. Her memorial will be held on Sunday, April 9, at 5 p.m. at Nichiren Church, 2801 E. 4th St. Los Angeles, CA 90033.” She recovered from a nearly fatal auto 2003 accident in Arizona and specialized in the 4 and 8. Will add more later.

Sumi was short enough to relax in a hurdle, but never showed inferiority.

March 28, 2017  9 Comments

M70 Kent Brown takes handicap 200 at Bobby Lane Invite in Texas

Wayne Bennett reports from Texas on the latest edition of the 200-meter age-graded handicap exhibition at the Bobby Lane Invitational at UT Arlington. Wayne, now 80, won last year. On Saturday, the victor was Dr. Kent Brown, 72, who ran 145.3 meters in 19.47. Second was Matt Pace, 62, 154.6 in 20.60, then Marcus Santi, 45, 178.7 in 21.47. Fourth was Lindy Raney, 58, 163.2 in 21.61. Fifth was Reggie Garner, 56, 165.4 in 22.33, with Wayne in sixth — 127.1 in 22.46. Seventh was Gary Tannehill, 59, 162.1 in 23.92. “We think this is a great opportunity to show college athletes and their parents what older athletes can do and maybe encourage someone to join us,” Wayne writes. “Last year’s race encouraged Gary Tannehill to start competing in masters track. We really enjoy this race.”

Lucky seven who took part in annual Bobby Lane Invitational handicap 200 from left were: Marcus Santi, Reggie Garner, Gary Tannehill, Lindy Raney, Matt Pace, Kent Brownm and Wayne Bennett.

March 27, 2017  2 Comments