2021

M75 Gary Patton engineers record-breaking season, wins USATF Masters Athlete of the Year

Last December, Masters Hall of Famer Gary Patton turned 75 and set his eyes on some middle-distance records. First up, in January, was Paul Perry’s 6:10.98 American age-group record in the indoor mile. Gary scorched a Wichita State track in 5:55.26 — a rare sub-6 for a 75-year-old. (The listed WR is 5:41.95 by Canada’s Earl Fee.) But the Kansas meet lacked a USATF sanction, so the mark was rejected. Not to worry. Gary — a retired engineer in Rock Rapids, Iowa (about 50 minutes east of Sioux Falls, South Dakota) — kept cranking. The result: American outdoor records in…


At Ames Masters Nationals, Flo Meiler Continues World Record Spree as 87-Year-Old

With meet organizers and USATF enchiladas spiking their “wear green or red wristbands” edict on vaccination status, USATF Masters nationals opened Thursday at Ames, Iowa — the first major meet since 2019 Ames nationals in 2019. Thankfully, competition supplanted controversy. While waiting (likely in vain) for USATF brass to answer my wristband questions, check out photos by Rob Jerome and highlights of Day 1, graciously provided by Mike Mahon: Ames, Iowa — Florence Meiler (Sprinticity/Shelburne, Vt.), 87, set two age-group world masters records to highlight the first day of competition at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships Thursday on the campus…


Vax wristbands lead ace photographers Dave Albo, Rob Jerome to bail out of shooting Ames masters nationals

Dave Albo is one of the great track photographers of our day — not just a nifty M65 shooter of geezers at masters nationals who runs a mean 400. On Saturday, he asked my opinion of whether he should bow out of shooting Ames nationals this coming week on account of its recently posted COVID-19 protocols — which include mandatory wristbands. Athletes must show their vaccination status — wearing green bands for having gotten their shots and red for not. (Ames picked up the baton after sizzling Sacramento, the original 2021 nationals site, got cold feet over COVID spreading potential.)…


Forever home found for 1977-2006 set of National Masters News — shipping being paid

Update: Fast out of the blocks, a group has offered to take the Sheahen materials. Original post: In 2013, after former National Masters News publisher Al Sheahen died, his family let me collect his old materials. Much of it was scanned and posted at mastershistory.org This includes a rare complete set of National Masters News (and company records) from 1977 to 2006, plus original photos. I no longer have room for these materials, but would happily give them all to someone who wants them or can share with a library or school. Sheahen, who lived in Van Nuys and Sherman…


Ralph Romain dies at 88; lanky Trinidad sprinter was WR legend at 200 and 400

Ralph Irving Romain was an education expert who worked for the World Bank and UNESCO. He taught history at New York’s Medgar Evers College of CUNY. In the 1960s, not long after his native Trinidad and Tobago gained independence from the UK, Ralph was the Caribbean nation’s education minister, writing a 15-year plan through 1983. “Equipped with training at the graduate level at Cambridge University, Romain took on the challenge of creating an educational system designed to allow equal opportunity to quality education for all the children of the country,” wrote Ralph Henry in the nation’s oldest newspaper. “He was…


GeezerJock magazine reincarnated as free newsletter, with veteran sportswriter at helm

In 2004, a Chicagoan’s idea for a masters sports magazine caught my attention and fluttered my heart. It had me at its title — GeezerJock. Despite the cheeky name, editor Sean Callahan and partners were serious, and I joined as a contributing track writer. In 2005, it even named an obscure 54-year-old sprinter named Bill Collins as its inaugural Michelob ULTRA GeezerJock of the Year. But in 2008, after months of editorial excellence but poor circulation (and changing its name to Masters Athlete), the book I called Sports Illustrated for age-groupers folded amid the Big Recession. (The same publication pandemic…


Sacramento 2021 masters nationals spiked? Email newsletter provokes questions on when, where

Yesterday’s newsy email from USATF Masters has raised concerns that our 2021 national outdoor meet won’t be held in Sacramento as previously awarded. All we know is: “Summer 2021 – USATF Masters Outdoor Championships: To be announced soon.” But the newsletter also says: “July 17 – Northwest Region Masters Outdoor Track and Field Meet: Seattle, WA – details forthcoming soon.” Given that the Sacramento Sports Commission website shows dates of July 15-18 for Sacto masters nationals, we now have dueling mysteries: When and where will outdoor nationals be held? (Meanwhile, the official USATF Masters website says: “USATF Masters Outdoor Track…


Superstar announcer Pete Taylor recovering from new stroke, delays return to booth

Pete Taylor, our Hall of Fame meet announcer, has been through the medical ringer over the years, but always bounced back. I’m hoping his luck holds as he faces yet another challenge. “On February 16,” Pete writes, “I suffered my third stroke; very soon thereafter I was lying in a bed in Inova Fairfax Hospital (Falls Church, Virginia) to begin a 3-day stay on an inpatient unit there.” His second stroke was in March 2012. “The date of my first stroke is not known, as I only know about it because the radiologist in 2012 indicated that I had had…


25 years and counting: Masters Track & Field Home Page launched in February 1996

Whenever I hear “OK boomer,” I smile. It’s meant to be a slur on my g-g-g-generation for being digital dunces, among other thing. Well, I just reply: I started my first website before you were born, whippersnapper. Case in point: My Masters Track & Field Home Page (every site in the late-1990s was a “home page”) went live in February 1996. The exact date? Lost in the mist of time. The URL migrated over the years, ending up as masterstrack.com and now masterstrack.blog. Between December 2002 and May 2018, I posted nearly every day. Then I got lazy, thanks to…


Olympian, masters star Willie Banks back smiling on Zoom after December bout with COVID-19

Monday’s Zoom session featuring Dick Fosbury, Linda Cohn and Willie Banks was happiness and light, with lots of helpful and inspirational nuggets. But my head snapped at one point when Willie, smiling and upbeat, matter of factly mentioned in passing that he had COVID-19 in December. Say what? He never returned to the subject, so I wrote him the next day. Did I hear you correctly? Yup. With symptoms of light fever, headache, body aches and cough, he was tested Dec. 11, 2020, and heard his results — positive — two days later. He has no clue how or where…