Rachel Guest is USA’s W40 lion of Lyon with American hep record

Rachel jumps in her AR hep. Rob Jerome photo

Rachel soars in her hep AR. Rob Jerome photo

Liz Palmer is a connoisseur of fine wines — and masters athletes. She reminded me of the wonderful worlds Rachel Guest is having. She’s been on my radar, but I haven’t had a chance to do her justice. Liz helped me, providing this summary: “Rachel Guest turned 40 in April and turned her attention to the W40 American record in the heptathon at Lyon. The current AR is 4463 set by Caryl Senn-Griffiths in 2003. Rachel eclipsed that by over 1,000 points with a score of 5468 that earned her the silver medal in that event. The winner of the event was Marsha Mark-Baird, a two-time Olympian from Trinidad and Tobago. Rachel led the hep in total scoring until the javelin when Marsha overtook her lead and ultimately won the gold medal.  Rachel finished first in the hurdles, high jump and 200. Her marks: 80 hurdles (11.62, 1013 pts), high jump (1.61, 941), shot put (8.87, 519), 200 (26.04, 949), long jump (5.54, 893), javelin (31.56, 595) and 800 (2:49.14, 558). In addition, Rachel scored a bronze in the long jump, leaping to a mark of 5.56 (18-3) with Mark-Baird taking the gold. Rachel’s final event will be the 80m hurdles, where she has the world leading mark and is hoping for another American record — the existing standard of 11.47 seconds was set by Stephanie Thomas in 2005. Rachel’s season best is 11.62 and she is keeping her fingers crossed!” So are we, Liz. Go Rachel!

Here’s a great profile of Rachel from two years ago.

Although Rachel Guest first took up track and field during her years in high school participating in the annual district meets in junior-high, she was not fully exposed to athletics until her freshman year.

It was during a PE class while they were undergoing the presidential testing for fitness, that she broke both the school record in the standing long jump and the 50 yard dash. At the end of the session, the track coach, Paul Williams; introduced himself and asked if she planned on running track: “I told him yes and within the first few weeks of practice I was asked to be a part of our varsity team”.

During her early years in athletics, Guest remembers watching track and field legends like Jackie Joyner Kersee, Carl Lewis, Mary Decker Slaney, Gail Devers and admiring their accomplishments. “I should have known that I would eventually migrate to the multi events in hopes that I could be even half as good as the likes of Jackie Joyner as she was a huge inspiration to me. While I didn’t know anything about the events of the heptathlon when I first remember watching her compete; I knew I wanted to learn”.

Growing up, her parents and her sister were very artistic so when she came along as the athlete, you could say she became the “odd one” of the family. She briefly recalls this period of her life: “I always admired their creativity and wanted so much to be able to draw and paint, but that is not what came naturally to me and I promptly realised that athletics was my gift.

Guest competed on the varsity team for Cactus High School in Glendale, Arizona, for 4 years where she not only broke two school records in PE, but also broke the 200M, 400M and both the 4X100 and 4X400m records. She became a multi time region champion and was a state qualifier each year before going onto Scottsdale Community College where she became a heptathlete: “I broke 8 school records, became a multi region champion and was an All-American in my sophomore year. I then transferred to Idaho State University on a full scholarship where my track career was cut short due to a back injury. I had to make the very difficult decision to quit track and field after only competing one indoor season”.

In 2004 after suffering an injury to her hip and feeling very frustrated with the slow healing at the time, the head coach of a local club recommended a doctor that could help her to get back to her previous form. He also then introduced her to doing 5K’s: “I thought that I was past my time of competing in athletics so figured why not give this a shot”.

Not fully knowing what it was all about, I took on some advice to compete at a few Masters track and field meets but before going out and making a fool of myself, we pulled a few results to see how competitive it would really be. It was now 2005 and I had just turned 30 so I didn’t want to get myself into something I was not going to have a chance at doing well in.

After looking at the times the women were running in the sprints I thought I could have a chance so we worked on speed training for only 2 weeks and then went out and competed in my first meet. I won both the 100M and 200M and it was coming off the turn in the 200M that I thought “I am back”. My times were nothing to brag about but I was up for the challenge of seeing what I still had in me”.

While now mainly self-coached for most of her events, when Guest first got back into competing in 2005, she began training with Jim Prescott of the Arizona Blaze. She also made contact with her former coach from Scottsdale Community College, Juan Ramirez who remotely developed most of her training: “I was fortunate to also have my throws coach from Scottsdale Community College, Mike Chapman, available to help me with my throws. Juan also stepped in at that time to work on my hurdles, 800M and long jump. I trained with Ray Davis (Puma track club coach and Glendale Community College high jump coach) in high jump and the Glendale Community College assistant Pole Vault coach, Eddie Seese, assisted with my strength training and active rest”.

With her continued progression, she competed in her first World Masters Championships in 2011 in Sacramento, California and she shared both her emotions and experience at the Games with us: “I was so excited to represent the USA and to be able to do it on American soil. I spent many hours researching the women who I would be competing against to understand my competitors and to be mentally prepared for what challenges they may create for me in my events.

When I won the gold medal in the heptathlon it didn’t even feel real. I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to share the news with my friends and family back home. At those same championships I was the silver medallist in the 100M hurdles and the bronze medallist in the long jump. I cannot put into words what it felt like to medal in all the events I had entered to compete”.

Her 2012 season had some amazing highs and also a few disappointments. She had the opportunity to compete at the 2012 WMA Indoor World Championships in Jyvaskyla, Finland where she broke the American Record by almost 960 points in the pentathlon which was still only good for the Silver medal position by only 2 points. “I have to be honest; those two points still haunt me. I vowed that it will not happen a second time”.

Three weeks after returning from the Games, she suffered an injured plantar fascia which left her in a walking boot for over six weeks and ultimately was unable to compete during the outdoor season. In late 2012 she still was named one of the W35-49 age group female athletes of the year and will be recognized for her accomplishments this summer at the 2013 outdoor National Championships.

Her ultimate goals as a Masters Athlete includes breaking as many records she possibly can in each age group she will compete in. “I am hopeful that both my training and my body will help me reach those goals. But more importantly I want to help any way I can to increase the exposure of Master’s Athletics. There are so many amazing athletes in all age groups that continue to inspire me and many others by their pure strength and dedication. Our sport and all the athletes that compete deserve the recognition of what we stand for”.

To prepare for the possibility of earning selection for the 2013 WMA Outdoor World Championships in Port Alegre, Brazil; Guest only started competing two weeks ago. “I was not particularly thrilled with my times but it’s still early. I will be competing at the Arizona State Championships and the Grand Canyon State Games in June and both of these meets are check points for me in my events for the upcoming outdoor National championships in July. Being just 100 points away from the record, I have my sights set on the outdoor American record in the pentathlon”.

When she is not training or competing, she loves to spend as much time as possible outdoors with her very active family whenever possible. Her family has been a huge support and are very proud of her accomplishments. She also has a passion for dancing and in addition to coaching she is fortunate to also work at Prestige Dance Academy for the last seven years as an instructor and more recently managing the front office.

For athletes aspiring to one day take up Masters Athletics, Rachel offers the following advice: “Train smart! Remember that as we get older, our bodies have different requirements. It does not mean that we cannot do great things athletically as we get older, it simply means that we need to listen to our bodies and train for what we can handle. We also should remember that we only live once so we should make the best of it while we are here. Don’t let what other people may say or think of you getting out there later in life ever hold you back. I have gained some amazing friends and experienced some amazing things since competing in Master’s athletics”.

Be sure to keep on following our web site for more on Rachel Guest’s progression and for upcoming features on other Masters athletes who continue to make invaluable contributions to our sport.

Facts about Rachel Guest:

Gender: Female
Age group: W35
Date of Birth: 4/15/1975
Club: unattached
Lead coach: self
Event/s: Pentathlon, Heptathlon…and all the fun that goes along with multi events, pole vault
Country: USA
Region: Western Region
Education: Exercise Science
Email: fsttrck75@yahoo.com
Facebook: Rachel Guest
Sponsor/s: Strapped Jock, Lund Cadillac, Bizarre Wood Products

Notable performances:

Arizona state records in the W30 100M, 100M hurdles and the long jump
Arizona state records in the W35 100M, 200M, 100M hurdles, High Jump and Long Jump
W35 American record holder in the indoor pentathlon
Foods/ Nutrition: My Nutrition is extremely important. I love food so there are not many things I do not like. I do however have dietary restrictions, as I am gluten intolerant so I must stay very aware of the foods I eat.

Favourite training session: “I like training days were I do speed intervals and then transition into one or two of my other events. These training sessions help my body prepare for the demands of the multi competition”.

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August 13, 2015

9 Responses

  1. Peter L. Taylor - August 14, 2015

    The fabulous Rachel Guest. You don’t really need to say much more than that; Rachel has been on my personal screen for quite some time. This past April I bragged to the Penn Relays announcers about her perfect form, and that’s probably Rachel’s most remarkable characteristic.

    If you want to see what a big-time collegiate athlete looks like, go watch Rachel Guest now. Yes, the collegians would have an edge over her in actual performance, but she’s 40 years old, not 20 or 21.

  2. Rachel Guest - August 14, 2015

    Thank you Liz Palmer for taking notice in my performances here in Lyon. Your too kind to take the time to reach out to Ken about how things are going over here. I feel blessed to have people like you as a “cheerleader” for our sport. I have always admired your personal success and strive to make an imprint,as you have, on our world of Masters track and field.

    Thank you Ken for posting such a great write up. We all work so hard to be at our best and when it is acknowledged it feels good.

    Pete, your so nice to comment as you did! You have taken great care of me at every meet by announcing me in a way that gives me that extra little push I need.

  3. Mike Sullivan - August 14, 2015

    Great Job Rachel….

  4. Rob Jerome - August 14, 2015

    Always a pleasure to photograph you, Rachel. As you know, I also photograph ballet In NYC. Your dance background shines through in your athletic performances. Would like to hear sometime about what you see as the interconnection between dance and athletics.

  5. Tim Muller - August 14, 2015

    Fantastic performance from a fantastic Arizona lady!! Congrats, Rachel

  6. Doug thompson - August 14, 2015

    I first met Rachel the year she came back to the track. It’s been fun to see what she’s accomplished since then. Congratulations, Rachel!

  7. Peter L. Taylor - August 17, 2015

    Rachel won the final in the 80 hurdles by 0.03 seconds, as she ran 11.67 to Susana Estriga’s 11.70. The two engaged in a lockstep battle that was very exciting to watch.

    Maryvonne Icarre (above) has posted some wonderful photos of this epic race. I Googled “rachel guest; lyon; hurdles” and got to watch the exciting battle twice.

    Way to go, Rachel.

    Peter T.

  8. Tony Echeandia - August 24, 2015

    Rachel (aka White Lightening) is a incredible Athlete and more importantly and Great Person!!! She deserves all her accolades!!

  9. Mike Chapman - July 9, 2018

    I helped coach Rachel back in 1994-95 when she was a student/athlete on the Scottsdale Community College track team in Arizona. I was the head men’s coach at Scottsdale then, but did the coaching for both the men and women in the throws (Shot put, Discus, Javelin). As a coach you’re always learning about the athletes you coach, kind of like a sponge, seeing what things you can do for your athlete and watch where it’s going to lead your athlete. I found out early about Rachel, that whenever she is on the track or getting ready to throw or jump, there’s an aura that exudes from her which is just so graceful and extraordinary to watch as she competes. I knew then as I know now she is the type of athlete and person people should try to replicate. I have coached many athletes with their own identity in my 50 years of track & field, but to me I think time has proven that Rachel is just flat out sensational.

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