Does USATF New York really want to discourage masters records?

Charles Allie of Pittsburgh at 2014 Winston-Salem nationals.

Heat sheets are posted for this Sunday’s USATF New York and New Jersey Championships — an indoor dual meet at the Ocean Breeze track in Staten Island. But according to one athlete not on the list, a potential record-setting masters relay is being rebuffed. Stephen Gould, an M60 sprinter, says meet organizers are barring athletes from outside those two states, including Hall of Famer and WMA Athlete of the Year Charles Allie, who was set to join three others for a WR attempt in the M70 4×4. Stephen writes: “NY’s isolationism has taken a stronger and stranger turn this year. Athletes in the Northeast were expecting to participate in the indoor championships at the excellent Ocean Breeze track in Staten Island. To their surprise, this meet has become a joint championship for USATF NJ and NY only. Many athletes outside USATF NY looked forward to competing in the USATF NY association championships. Indoors, it’s a chance to race at the legendary Armory track or at Ocean Breeze. Outdoors, they race at the fine Carl Icahn stadium that has hosted Diamond League meets. They accepted the oddity that the organizers refused to give any awards, not even ribbons, to outside competitors.”

Stephen continued:

Awards to outsiders are required by regional championships but not association championships. One competitor was threatened by Laura Primerano (who also runs the Ocean Breeze facility), the head of the association, with exclusion if he complained further about the absence of any award!

However, actually excluding all other athletes bar NY and NJ is not only unprecedented, it appears short-sighted in the extreme.

The organizers at NY have long complained about the expense of putting on the championships at venues like the Armory and now Ocean Breeze, and so it would appear to be good commercial sense to encourage outsiders. And the explanation for this exclusion is baffling.

John Padula, VP of USATF NY, said that the championship was intended also to be a head-to-head contest between NJ and NY and having competitors from outside would be confusing. However, as anyone who’s been to a national championship knows, the Hy-Tek software everyone uses can score or exclude scores as desired.

NY’s attitude is even stranger than that: They rejected a request to compete from the great Charles Allie from Pittsburgh, who would have run with two NJ/NY members and one other NE athlete in assaults on the 70+ world records for 4 x 200 and 4 x 400. I don’t recall another instance where an association didn’t want to see a world champion or a WR record at its championships.

(Ken note: I don’t see a 4×200 scheduled.)

It seems as if NY is now being run by people who lack a serious understanding of how T&F competitors think or compete. This is, perhaps, best demonstrated by John Padula, who, in response to a query about the scheduled 400m coming right after a 60m final, replied that the 60m dash does not require a lot of recovery, and over 10 minutes rest was sufficient.

I’m writing the NY folks for comment. Stay tuned.

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February 9, 2018

16 Responses

  1. Roxanne Brockner - February 10, 2018

    I wanted to run too but surprised that not even Long Islanders were allowed.

  2. Tom Tinsman - February 10, 2018

    Being from NJ I always liked to attend their indoor meet but could never understand why they didn’t give USATF awards to out of state athletes. Its not like there are a ton of master athletes attending. I now live in western pa and glad to see the Ohio welcomes athletes from PA.

  3. Ken Ogden - February 10, 2018

    One possible solution would be to stage an
    “exhibition” master’s relay allowing the attempt
    at a world record. Seems like that would of
    interest to both spectators and athletes alike.

    Meet organizers would be heroes, and the relay
    participants could go all out for the record.

  4. AMP - February 10, 2018

    I’m in a MidAtlantic club and attended last year when it was just a NY Association Championship. There were not a lot of athletes there. It was a great opportunity to run at Ocean Breeze and about five from our club made our way there. Everyone there was friendly and welcoming and I was hoping to get back this year. I was very disappointed to see the other associations shut out. Dual meet scoring is easy to sort out and outsiders can wear a back bib so you know they aren’t part of scoring when on the track. If they are worried about crowds, they can cap outside entries. Can’t imagine they don’t want the extra entries fees to help with costs Maybe next year!!

  5. Ruthlyn Greenfield-Webster, BSN, RN, BC - February 10, 2018

    I got the same response from John Padula when I inquired early January about the restriction This was his response: “It would be difficulty to score the meet if we let non-N or NJ Association members compete!”

    I’m pretty upset that I won’t be able to compete tomorrow as there are VERY FEW Masters meets here in the tri-state area! I used to compete at this meet every year in the past! But this year, although I live here in NY, I can’t compete because I’m a member of Southwest Sprinters Track Club which is affiliated with the Gulf Association.

    Makes no sense too because I looked at the entries and for the majority of events, there’s only one or two athletes entered per age group! I don’t really care about the medal…I’d just like to compete!

  6. Eric Braschwitz - February 10, 2018

    Wow! What a sad story about the state of the sport in America. Charles Allie has always been welcome at USATF North Carolina Association championships and it has been a great pleasure to know him at these events. Indeed, he has always been a great contributor to what the sport should represent and I would think any meet organizer would be lucky to have him show up.

    However, and quite surprising to me when I looked at the USATF rules on this, meet organizers can discriminate when determining who is invited to Association Championships as follows:

    Rule 3

    ASSOCIATION CHAMPIONSHIPS 1. All members of an Association shall be permitted to compete in that Association’s Championships. 2. An athlete who has competed in the Championships of one Association shall not be eligible to compete in the same Championships of any other Association during the same year except as a non-scoring guest at the discretion of the Association meet director or the appropriate Association sports committee. 3. Athletes who are not members of a particular Association may compete as invited guests on a non-scoring basis at the discretion of the meet director or the appropriate Association sports committee.

    This seems unfair since there are probably no more than 10 total indoor T&F masters association championship meets (with awards) of the 57 USATF associations, and I bet Three Rivers association does not have one. So what is one to do if one wants to compete? Perhaps find something else to do?

    As an aside, I gave up years ago with the idea of getting a medal from each of the 57 associations during a period of years traveling (similar to those road runners who run a marathon or half marathon in every state). (Cost of each medal is about $2 max to meet organizers to put some perspective on the value). My wife still laughs at me for this short-lived pursuit.

    Interestingly, this discrimination under USATF rules does not apply to Regional meets:

    Rule 331

    COMPETITIVE RULES AND STANDARDS FOR MASTERS TRACK AND FIELD 1. General (a) There shall be no Regional Championship restrictions to any Masters competitor involving eligibility to compete.

    By analogy, I would argue this should also apply to Association Championships. Should be a rule change at the next USATF annual meeting.

    Seems to me the USATF Masters T&F officers should step in here and take a position on this as the optics of this discrimination of invitation looks bad, at least to me.

    Clearly, barring Charles Allie (and any other masters athlete from outside these two assocations) from competing is in poor spirit.

  7. Mary Harada - February 10, 2018

    sad – rather than encourage masters athletes this meet discriminates against those from other associations. What are they afraid of?

  8. Lady Speedy - February 10, 2018

    It appears to be bias against masters runners by the head(s) of NY (who also run the venue) who has reportedly on good authority at National meetings expressed reluctance to host any masters meets at all. Part may be the low turn out in recent years both indoors and out where economics are an issue. National I think pays the salary or even if self-funded, they known and tolerate an attitude which makes no sense once a meet is paid for – what good motive to turn down more masters who pay more fees to enter, and have few places to run indoors. There are more insensitivities shown, large and small, including guest and competitor safety, convenience and respect. The rules can be changed. The best people can be found and encouraged to run each association, especially in NYC. Someone should let the sponsors know about unsportsmanlike policies since economics and pressure from sponsors will get attention if our welfare will not. Very sad and shameful with our risk of injury, dedication and hard work to be dissed. Makes me want to go back to my knitting.

  9. David E. Ortman (M64), Seattle, WA - February 10, 2018

    Response to #3:

    Although I can find no USATF rule on this, Masters Regional T&F Championship meets (while allowing all masters competitors to compete – Rule 331) do discriminate by not allowing out of region competitors to set Regional Masters Championship meet records.


  10. Bill Murray - February 11, 2018

    In the SE Region, the 7 Association Masters Chairs who comprise the SE Region, unanimously voted to only allow athletes who were SE Region members to set and hold regional records. Here is the link to the indoor records.

    Here is the link to the results since 2013

  11. Stephen Gould - February 11, 2018

    Bill: I think it’s common enough to have a record restriction like that – after all, how can I set an X Association record if I’m not a member of X association? It’s little different from not being eligible to set a record for a club that I’m not a member of.

    The issue is whether the assocations actively prohibit outside athletes from competing AT ALL. And clearly as one can tell from the results, SE region does not so prohibit.

  12. Bill Murray - February 11, 2018

    SG – associations should allow non association athletes and treat them as non scoring athletes, just like we treat foreign athletes at our national championships.

  13. Jeff Davison - February 11, 2018

    For the SCA and the West Region meets only SCA or West Region people can set meet records. But everyone is allowed to compete and be in the finals. We also are ok with non SCA and non West Region people to set AR, WR, or other countries records at these two meets.

    In fact we have people obtain Olympic qualifying marks since these meets are later in the track season and it’s hard to find late meets to get olympics qualifying marks.

  14. Jeff Davison - February 11, 2018

    The Striders Meet of Champions meet is not a region meet … and anyone can set a meet record.

  15. Jeff Davison - February 11, 2018

    Saturday June 2, 2018 come set relay records at meet in Bermingham, Alabama.
    Looking for Shuttle hurdle relay and other relays to be available

    Jeff Davison

  16. Peter L. Taylor - February 11, 2018

    Well, the Ocean Breeze meet is over, and it was a little bit different, at least from my perspective.

    Only 5 women ran the 60 dash, with our friend Renee “The Jet” Shepherd leading the way in a sparkling 8.28 seconds.

    There were 16 men in the 60, spread across 10 age groups, and yet all 16 ran a trial. For example, Michael Kish (M65) ran 8.23 in the trial and 8.26 in the final. Some sprinters did not come back for a final, even though one would think they had all qualified. Oh, well.

    Why all of the men had to run a trial is hard to determine, but it must have been a different kind of meet.

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