Running in the 'Meda: Masters meet

Running in the 'Meda: Masters meet

Marty Beene

Photo by Marty Beene.

This Sunday, track and field fans have a rare opportunity to see some of the best masters (over 40 years old) athletes in the world only a few miles down the road, at Chabot College.

The Pacific Association of USA Track & Field's annual Masters Track & Field Championships will get underway at 9 a.m. with the 10,000 meter race (25 laps). I know this because it's the event I'll be running. It's quite unlikely I'll win anything, however, because even though I've been training for it for the past four months and am in tip-top shape, my friend Casey Strange (also in the 50-54 age group) is projected to finish at least five minutes before I do.

At 10 a.m., the steeplechase races will begin, followed by the 1500 meter race walk event. If you've never seen race walking up close, this is something you should definitely come out to watch to get an appreciation for these outstanding athletes.

After the race walk event, the rest of the track events proceed on a rolling schedule. The field events begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. and continue into mid-afternoon. Here are a few key people to look for at the meet:

Irene Obera will compete in the 80-84 age group in the 80 meter hurdles and 400 meter events. She has held several age group U.S. and world records for both indoor and outdoor track, and was inducted into the Pacific Association's Hall of Fame last year. She was ranked #1 in the world in six track events last year (five outdoor, one indoor). Obera is the current world record holder for her age group in that hurdles event, so I am definitely planning to watch that one.

Bill Dodson, another 80-84 age group competitor, was recently featured in a New York Times article about his attempt to set a record for a 50-kilometer race for an 80-year-old. He was on target for the record at the U.S. 50k Championships in New York, but then it started snowing. It got slippery enough that he fell twice during the final few miles, and he missed the record by a mere eight seconds. On Sunday, he'll be competing in much shorter events, the 400 meter and 1500 meter.

Ed Burke has many claims to fame, including being the first American to have made Olympic teams 20 years apart (1964 and 1984). As the oldest member of the U.S. team in Los Angeles at age 44, he was selected as the flag bearer for the opening ceremonies, a tremendous honor. Burke competes in the 75-79 age group, and may set a distinction this Sunday of throwing the most objects - he'll be competing in the shot put, discus, hammer, javelin, weight throw, and superweight throw. That sounds like enough work for month, let alone a single day!

Hope to see you Sunday morning at Chabot!

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups, and sometimes runs around in circles up to 25 times in a row. He can be reached at marty@BeTheRunner.com.