Sonja Friend-Uhl named USATF Athlete of the Week for sub-5 mile

Sonja doesn’t make a big deal about her beating men. (But I do.)

Sonja Friend-Uhl picked a good time to set a W45 American record in the indoor mile — a week that saw elite kiddies saving themselves for Millrose or indoor nationals. Thus her 4:59.99 easily stood out to Indy HQ as Friday she was named USATF Athlete of the Week. USATF noted that Sonja, of Boca Raton, Florida — was a 2000 Olympic Trials qualifier in the 1500. (She was sixth in the fastest heat, clocking 4:15.44 behind eventual winner Regina Jacobs’ 4:06.16). Sonja’s sub-5 would have ranked 10th nationally on the M45 indoor list last year among all Americans. (And ninth outdoors!) Yowza! In becoming the first masters athlete so honored in 2018, USATF also noted Rodney Atherton’s M60 AR in the heptathlon. Also a reminder: “To nominate an athlete for USATF Athlete of the Week, please send a detailed email about his/her performance to” (If I can do it, anyone can.)

February 4, 2018  2 Comments

Amber’s 77-foot weight throw is a tad better than Julie’s 50-10 AR

Amber Campbell spins well after age 35.

USATF statistician Glen McMicken sent me a note in the wake of my nominating Julie Williams-Tinkham for USATF Athlete of the Week (along with others). Julie beat the listed American indoor record in the 20-pound weight throw with her 15.51 (50-10 3/4). But Glen noted that Amber Campbell was 35 last year when she threw 23.48 (77-0 1/2) at ABQ open indoor nationals. That far exceeds Julie’s mark, and the listed record. This appears to be another case of an elite thrower not seeking recognition for an age-group mark — or meet organizers not realizing what they had. Who knows how many other elites have thrown better than 15.51? In any case, Amber’s mark deserves age-group record consideration. The meet where she made it is good to go. (The listed WR in the W35 WT remains 18.02/59-1 1/4 by Australia’s Byrony Glass in 2013.)

February 1, 2018  One Comment

ARs: M60 Rodney Atherton (hep), W35 Julie Williams-Tinkham (WT)

Julie was honored last summer, too.

Besides the Sonja Friend-Uhl sub-5 mile AR, two other American records were set last weekend — in the M60 hep at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and W35 weight throw at Providence Career and Technical Academy in Rhode Island. At the master hep nationals, Rodney Atherton of Florida scored 5519 points to beat the listed AR of 5393 by Doug Osland three years ago. His marks were 8.78 in the 60, 5.11 (16-9 1/4) in the long jump, 11.53 (37-10) in the shot, 1.57 (5-1 3/4) in the high jump, 10.02 in the 60 hurdles, 3.40 (11-1 3/4) in the vault and 4:00.65 (1000 meters). At the New England USATF Masters indoor meet, Julie Williams-Tinkham threw 15.51 (50-10 3/4) to beat the listed weight throw AR of 15.35 (50-4) by Marilyn Coleman in 2014 at Budapest worlds. “She also competed in the shot put and super weight throw. In 2017, Williams-Tinkham was named the August Athlete of the Month after breaking the American Record in the 35-39 age division for the super weight throw,” said New England USATF. Here are the men’s hep results and women’s hep results. Here are the New England results. Rob Jerome took his usual incredible photos at Kenosha.

January 30, 2018  20 Comments

Sonja Friend-Uhl, at almost 47, cracks 5 in mile for American record

Nineteen months ago, W45 Sonja Friend-Uhl withdrew from a masters exhibition at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Now the middle-distance superstar is recovered from a strained hamstring and plantar fasciitis in her right foot. How recovered? How about becoming the oldest American woman to run a sub-5 mile indoors? On Facebook, Sonja posted news of her 4:59.99 Sunday at the KMC Invite in Birmingham, Alabama. That beats the listed AR of 5:04.02 set by Alisa Harvey in 2011. (The outdoor AR is 4:56.28 by Kris Paaso in 2016.) Sonja turns 47 in March, so this is an amazing mark. At the same meet, Sonja also ran the 400 in 62.39. Sh wrote: “Man, those girls are fast! I really need to learn how to use starting blocks! I felt a bit rusty and I have much work to do regarding my speed and power, but it was a solid opener to the season and I’m grateful for it!” Sonja’ all-time indoor mile best is 4:39.72 — when she was 28. So she’s lost an average of 1.12 seconds a year for 18 years. Incredible.

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January 29, 2018  6 Comments

USATF President Lananna mentions masters in his report to board

Vin Lananna visited San Diego on listening tour.

USATF President Vin Lananna made a report to the board at the Ohio annual meeting, and he even used the M-word six times! But don’t look for revelations or a vision. He’s basically checking boxes. Here’s what he said: “Masters Athletics continues to expand in both participation and in level of performance. As USA Track & Field celebrated the 50th anniversary of the USA Masters Championships this past summer in Baton Rouge, it was easy to see why Team USA performs so well at the international level. We all value the hard work and dedication our masters athletes display as they represent our sport. Equipping our masters teams in official USATF team gear and having staff support the team was a huge step forward. I see this type of service as an attractive way to generate new members for USATF and I hope Rex Harvey, Master’s Track & Field Committee Chair, and his team can continue to find ways to better support masters in the future.” Fortunately, Rex is plowing through his to-do list, including shaking up committees, naming new chairs.

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January 25, 2018  2 Comments

Gary Snyder: How about holding an all-comers meet at worlds?

Gary fires first shot in WMA prez race.

Gary Snyder has issued a “vision” statement in his race for WMA president at Malaga worlds. Creative stuff. He’s thinking beyond the current lets-put-on-a-track-meet-and-raise-money-for-travel-junkets mind-set of WMA leadership. One idea is holding a low-key meet concurrently with worlds. (Cheaper entry fees and less pressure for rookies, I imagine.) “Add a low key competition category for ‘participants’ – no medals – no records – just compete,” Gary writes. “This would attract new athletes not only for the championships but lifetime members for local clubs etc.” He’s running against a German lady not admired in some German circles. (I’m not aware of a third candidate.) So it looks as if Gary and Margit Jungmann will be going mano-a-mano. Eventually, I’ll shoot both of them a set of smarmy questions. If you have topics I should cover, post your queries here or shoot me email.

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January 23, 2018  10 Comments

Masters invited to sprint/hurdles camp at JDL Fast Track in N.C.

Our friend Steve McGill, a hurdles expert and author of a Rod Milburn biography, is offering another sprint/hurdles camp. He says: “I did one in November and one masters athlete came, and she really enjoyed it and really learned a lot.” So Steve is inviting masters to his next one at JDL Fast Track in North Carolina. It’s 9 a.m to 4 p.m. March 31 – April 1. Steve will coach, along with Hector Cotto and Jenna Pepe. Cost is $250 or three or more athletes $230 each. “We teach sprinters and hurdlers efficient mechanics and technique,” the camp website says. “Our ability to teach and explain and to provide individualized attention as needed is what sets us apart.”

Inaugural Speed and Hurdle camp was held at JDL Fast Track in November.

January 22, 2018  3 Comments

WR rampage by M65 Ritte, W75 Lafayette-Boyd, W55 Matheson

Carol is keeping ahead of Wolfgang in her jump.

Germany’s Wolfgang Ritte, dubbed the Masters Bubka by Bubba Sparks, broke the M65 indoor world record in the vault twice on Jan. 19, ending at 3.95 meters (12-11 1/2). Wölfie turned 65 on Jan. 7. He bettered the listed WR of American John Altendorf — 3.86 (12-8) at the Reno Pole Vault Summit in 2013. In Edmonton, Alberta, over the weekend, Canada, W75 Carol Lafayette-Boyd reportedly smashed world indoor WRs in the long jump and triple jump. She long jumped 3.97 (13-0 1/4) to better Christiane Schmalbruch’s record of 3.71 (12-2). She triple jumped 8.46 (27-9 1/4) to cream Christiane’s record of 7.87 (25-10). Loretta Amerongen also reports Carol broke Canadian records in the 60 – 9.66 (Kathy Bergen’s world record is 9.49) and she also broke the Canadian record in the 200 — 33.45 (Kathy’s world record is 33.06). Awaiting results here. Finally, the UK’s Bridget Cushen reports on the WMA site: “Competing in the Scottish Masters 3000m Indoor Championships on 4 January (actually Jan. 7), 56-year-old Fiona Matheson broke her own W55 10.21.52 sec record set almost a year to the day in the same stadium. The 2014 WMA W50 Indoor 1500/3000m silver medallist in Budapest in 2014 was running in a mixed-age category when she lowered her own record by almost 3 seconds to establish a new W55 world record of 10:18.87 sec.

January 21, 2018  2 Comments

Shocker for track world: Track & Field News folds print edition

The last print edition of T&FN featured high jumper Mutaz Barshim.

This really hurts: Track & Field News on Tuesday announced that it has mailed its last print edition. (Only online from now on.) I’m preparing a story for Times of San Diego. If you have a “Bible of the Sport” story to tell, please post a comment or shoot me a note. I’ve been a subscriber since 1970, when I was a sophomore in high school and first saw the magazine (black and white at time) at an Orange County invitational pro-level meet. (John Carlos was there.) I was a listed contributor in the late 1970s and 1980s, covering Jim Ryun’s retirement press conference at KU and doing the first (and maybe only) non-staff-written Q&A interview (with Al Oerter around 1979). I was rough on editor Garry Hill for his infamous “nobody gives a rat’s ass about masters track” comment of 20 years ago. But I was a fan of the mag. This is the end of an era to end all eras.

January 16, 2018  16 Comments

Ontario Masters meets pioneering mixed-sex 4×400 relay records

Mixed-sex relays run in any order.

Last April, the IAAF held a mixed-sex 4×400 relay, reporting thusly: “The beauty of the mixed relay is its anarchy, the absence of a set running order of sexes allowing for final legs like the one we witnessed here.” To Duncan Greenshields of Ontario Masters Athletics, the beauty is the record-setting opportunity. As OMA records czar, Duncan is thrilled to announce his province will soon have a bunch of new records. “Your opportunity to set an Ontario Masters relay record just DOUBLED!” he writes. “Did you know the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will have a mixed Men/Women’s 4x400m relay? Yes it will! And we’re starting here in Ontario, too…. We are beginning with Mini Meet #2 (Jan 21st) with a 4×400 relay!” He concludes: “But don’t run only for the record. Run because a relay is fantastic fun. And you will be part of making history.” Nice. Masters meets have experimented with mixed 4x100s, but to me the beauty is it makes possible for more people to run relays. Easier to get two guys and two gals together in a given age group than four guys or four gals. Best of luck, Duncan!

January 15, 2018  2 Comments