World-Class Field Competes
BY DIANE SHERRER
ITHACA, NY--Its lonely at the top, with only rabbits for company and the weight of records hanging on every tick of the clock.
An international field of the worlds best Masters runners competed on January 21 at the 39th annual Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile held on the Barton Hall track at Cornell University.
With greatness comes the anticipation of the tumbling of records. For the elite men, there were none. But the elite women claimed two records for their own.
Tony Young, 43, of Redmond, WA won his first Hartshorne elite mens title in 4:20.72. The top-ranked Masters miler in the world won a prize purse of $300 for the victory and a performance bonus of $400 for breaking the time standard of 4:26.
Mike Egle, 44, of Glenview, IL placed second in 4:33.03, earning $150 in prize money.
In a flurry of microsecond maneuvers over the final 50 meters, 43-year-old Gladstone Jones of the Bronx placed third in 4:35.12. The Central Park Track Club 800m specialist outkicked both Jim Derick of Big Flats (4:35.29) and Tom Dalton of Schenectady (4:35.77) for the final $50 share of winnings.
The elite mens Veterans (ages 50 to 59) mile was won by Jerry Kooymans, 50, of Markham, Ontario, Canada. Kooymans was awarded the Charlie McMullen Memorial Award named in honor of the Hartshorne Masters Mile multi-champion who died in 2003, at the age of 52, of cancer.
In the elite womens race, Marisa Hanson, 42, of Pleasant Valley won her first Hartshorne title in 5:02.69, breaking the existing meet record of 5:08.55 set in 2003 by Patti Blanchard of Dieppe, New Brunswick. (Blanchards time remains a womens 45 to 49 age-group world record.)
Hanson, a former two-time All-American in the 400m hurdles at Ithaca College, won a prize purse of $300 for the victory, $400 for breaking the 5:15 performance standard, and a $200 bonus for the meet record.
Lesley Chaplin-Swann, 47, of McDonough, GA placed second in 5:16.74 and 43-year-old Mary Grene of Andover, KS was third in 5:17.28.
Carolyn Smith Hanna, 55, of Pittsford posted a time of 5:43.75, which set a pending American and world indoor-mile record for women 55 to 59. (The old record of 5:43.96 was set in 2002 by Joni Shirley.)
The mens elite race was expected to be a runaway time trial, with Young racing the clock in pursuit of a M40 American indoor record (sub 4:11), and the meet record (4:17.84), which has lasted for 13 years. Egle, one of the four premier Masters milers in the world, and all the others, were prepared for rabbit (pace-setter) Scott Weeks of Groton to lead the field through the half in 2:05.
I was hoping if we came through at 2:05 or 2:06 at the half, I could maintain it, said Young, the 2005 national Masters indoor M40 champion in the 800m and the mile. I was surprised, when on my own the last two laps, how badly I felt and how tough they were. I didnt feel so good, so I said to myself, OK, lets run a 4:12 and be done with it.
It was time that was always on Youngs mind, not so much tactics or the probable victory.
I wanted to do my own thing, and I figured if I did that, Id win by 10 seconds, said Young, who has run 800m outdoors in 1:52 and a 4:05 indoor mile at the University of Washingtons 300m track, not acceptable for ratified records. But every time I attempt a time, its physically and mentally frustrating. Sometimes you get it, and sometimes you dont. But I didnt feel that pressure at all today; I just wanted to give it a good show. Im disappointed because a 4:20 is a workout time for me. So, Id like to say, Lets go at it again!
Egle, the 2004 Hartshorne Mile champion and 2005 runner-up, probably would be willing to go at it again, too. A gold medallist in the 800m and 1,500m at outdoor nationals--and a top Masters at the Chicago Marathon in 2:37--Egle was eager and inspired to race with Young.
I knew the rabbit would take it out really fast, so I wanted to run for time and go with Tony as long as possible, said Egle, who competes for Fleet Feet Racing in Chicago. I hit my best split at the half [2:10], and I was happy with that. But I ran out of gas the last three laps. Tony was too strong for me. Hes the best Masters miler in the world, and Im amazed by his talent. He sets the bar so high, and every time you have the chance to run against the best, you cherish it.
The elite women standing next to Hanson on the starting line also knew they were about to race against the very best. They all knew Hanson had run a 5:03 indoor mile a week ago in the Armory in New York City.
Because of that performance, Ithacas Natalie Whelan, the elite womens rabbit, was instructed to pace the women to a split of 2:30 at the 800m mark.
I was really nervous because of what was expected of me, and of the other women who were racing, said Hanson, who qualified for the 1992 Olympic trials in the steeplechase. I was hoping I could at least match the 5:03, and not disappoint myself or the meet directors. At first, I also was disappointed there was going to be a rabbit because I wanted the race to unfold naturally. But I soon realized it was actually to my benefit that [Natalie] was there.
Hanson, directly on the heels of the rabbit, passed through 800m in 2:31 with plenty of energy reserves to spare. At times, it looked as if she would pass the rabbit.
Roughly six seconds back, a second-tier race within a race was playing out among Chaplin-Swann, the outdoor national Masters gold medallist in the 800 and 1,500; Grene, the 1,500m gold medallist at the World Masters Championships; and Stiner, who holds the still-pending F40 American record in the 1,500.
Not only was Chaplin-Swann racing for position, she was aiming to break what she thought was the F45 indoor mile record (5:18.10) before Stiner could do it.
I had a pretty good idea Marisa would take it, said Chaplin-Swann, who recently set pending F45 American records in the 800 (2:22.37) and 1,500 (4:53.62). My race was really with Sarah, and thats whom I was concentrating on all the way through. The pace went out a bit slower than I expected, and when Sarah passed me around the third lap, I just sat on her shoulder.
Meanwhile, Hanson continued to widen the gap, not really knowing what was going on behind her.
I knew they might be close, but I didnt see any shadows, said Hanson. I said to myself, Youre here to run fast, and you know what you have to run each lap--37s. I wanted to keep rolling with the momentum I had going. Getting the meet record means a lot to me, and Im thrilled. I didnt expect it, but I was hoping to be able to do it and I feel lucky.
Chaplin-Swann edged Grene for the runner-up position, and Stiner, the 2005 Hartshorne Mile runner-up, placed fourth (5:20.22). But at the finish Chaplin-Swanns joy turned to disappointment when she learned the F45 American record had been lowered last week to 5:11.1.
I was happy, but a little deflated at not getting the record, Chaplin-Swann said. I did beat Sarah, and shes one heck of a runner. Well all meet again, and the F45 record will flip-flop this year. It should be a fun season.
Reprinted with permission of The Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, NY.
1. Jack Meegan 6:29.75
1. Andri Goncarovs 5:22.36
1. Richard Raflaub 4:50.69
1. Jerry Kooymans 4:43.32
1. Tony Young 4:20.72
1. Ruth Yanai 5:55.77
1. Marisa Hanson 5:02.69