Was Dan King cheated of M60 mile WR? Meet may have lacked USATF sanctioning

Dan King's mile WR was celebrated on Runner's World. But without a meet sanction, it will never go into the books.Dan King's mile WR was celebrated on Runner's World. But without a meet sanction, it will never go into the books.

In late August, 61-year-old Dan King of Boulder, Colorado, traveled 1,600 miles to Columbia, South Carolina, and came away with a mile mark of 4:49.08 (see results) — crushing the listed M60 world record of 4:51.85 by Kiwi Tony McManus in 2012 and American record of 4:53.01 by Nolan Shaheed the same year.

On Runner’s World, Sarah Lorge Butler wrote: “Behind two pacers—Jackson Neff and John Minen, who earlier in the meet had run the open mile—King clicked off 72-second laps, going hard from the gun.” (The actual splits were 73.57, 71.31, 72.29 and 71.91.). She quoted Dan as saying: “I felt fantastic at that pace. I’d lose to all sorts of people if it was a slower race with a kick. But if I go all out at a pace I can sustain for one mile, and run evenly, I’m fast at that distance.”

Peter Brady interviewed University of Colorado alum Dan “the accidental miler” in mid-September. Shared how he dealt with recurring plantar fasciitis and remade his running mechanics (including running barefoot). And going vegan at age 50 (which was debated on letsrun.com.)

But I’m worried that meet organizers didn’t go the extra mile and secure a USATF sanction for the meet — South Carolina TrackFest.

Without a sanction — a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval — the mark won’t be eligible for an American record. Or a WR.

Over the past month, I’ve written to USATF HQ in Indy and TrackFest meet director Dave Milner, asking if his meet was sanctioned. Crickets.

Adding to my concern is the fact the meet isn’t listed on the USATF calendar, much less denoted with a black dot for sanctioned events.

I wrote Jeff Brower, our masters records czar, asking whether King’s record application had any glitches. On Sept. 13, he replied: “No application received, which is a pretty major glitch.”

So that day I contacted Dan the Man himself via Facebook.

“The race was a sanctioned event,” Dan told me. “The meet director said he would submit the paperwork but I don’t know if he did it yet.” Later, he told me: “Dave (Milner) was waiting on finish line photo, the starter’s credentials and my birth certificate. I’m not sure where it’s all at.”

USATF calendar doesn't event list the South Carolina Trackfest.

USATF calendar doesn’t even list the South Carolina TrackFest.

It concerns me that Dave and USATF have gone radio silent on this matter. Dan’s mile, according to this calculator, is equivalent to an open time (ages 20-30) of 3:50.17. (In my mind, it’s worth 3:40.)

This has been a horrible year for the sport, with few meets available. For Dan to travel that far to be denied a world record is a shame and outrage. He was promised a sanctioned event, and might not have gotten one.

Records lost for lack of USATF sanction are the bane of masters track. In the mile, for example, James Eklund, 81, ran a 6:59.38 at a Bay Area all-comers meet in 2016. The listed M80 American record remains 7:09.60 by Joseph King in 2008. In 2011, Mary Harada broke the listed W75 indoor record in the mile with a 8:21.50 at the Armory track in NYC. She knew meet wasn’t sanctioned, at least. I could go on.

Nobody questions the need for meets to meet USATF standards. A sanction helps assure that. With USATF easing its rules for acquiring a sanction in this pandemic era, meet directors have no excuse. If they want records to count, pay the money and get a damn sanction. (Costs vary according to size of event, starting at $60.)

My fondest hope is that I’m worried for nothing. Paperwork will be filed and Jeff will list Dan’s marvelous mile. But things aren’t looking good. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, Dan is soldiering on. “An endurance athlete who surprisingly has some speed left,” he recently ran 1500 at altitude, “not much of a taper, though, and no one to race with,” he told me. “I ran 4:43.6 so overall I was OK but I was trying for sub-4:40.” (The world M60 record is Nolan’s 4:24.00.)

Not bad for 25 running miles a week. (He also does cycling, elliptical training, plyometrics and even deep-water running.)

On Oct. 17, TrackFest director Milner is putting on a meet called the Columbia Distance Solution at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina. It’s not on the USATF calendar. No sanction.

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About the Author

Ken Stone
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and webmaster since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials. He worked for 10 newspapers and now reports for Times of San Diego. Write him at TrackCEO@aol.com or kens@timesofandiego.com. Story tips always welcome!

3 Comments on "Was Dan King cheated of M60 mile WR? Meet may have lacked USATF sanctioning"

  1. it has been about a decade since I helped put on a USATF sanctioned masters meet, aybe things have changed but back then a lot more was involved than just paying $60 to the USATF. While it is a very good thing to do and I support obtaining USATF sanction, it requires a significant amount of time and effort to bring in USATF officials, timing, having medical personnel on hand, track certification, rent for use of the track and facility, etc. So I can understand why meet officials might decide that since so few masters are potential record setters that putting on a more low key meet could make sense. The last several years, there seems to be less “Masters” meets around and anything that can make it easier to put on a meet seems worth considering.

  2. Not surprising at all. Sigh…

  3. This is awful. Thanks for keeping on top of it.
    Dan clearly put in a hell of a lot of work to go from running 5:20-ish a year ago to beating a WR by almost 3 seconds AND besting the great Nolan Shaheed’s American record by another big margin.
    Not to take anything away from Dan, but one of the reasons this needs get sorted NOW for all upcoming events is that the Nike Dragonfly Zoom X spikes are going to have a HUGE impact on masters track events and we can predict that all current world records will be quickly updated, by similarly big margins.
    I write this just having read the news, as the Guardian UK put it: “Cheptegei and Gidey smash world track records using controversial spikes”.
    Women’s %000m beaten by more than four seconds; men’s 10,000m updated by SIX seconds. Unheard of.
    “Both records will inspire controversy and awe given that Gidey and Cheptegui were wearing Nike ZoomX Dragonfly spikes, which contain a carbon plate and a unique foam, and have been billed as the “fastest shoes ever”.

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