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.”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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