STEVE CHANTRY LEADS THE PACK IN THE M50
MEMORIAL MASTERS MILE.
SUE PEARSALL PHOTO

Hinton and Harvey Repeat at Hartshorne;
Two Records Fall

BY DIANE SHERRER

ITHACA, NY--John Hinton pulled one more surprise out of his spike bag full of tricks at the 41st annual Hartshorne Memorial Masters Mile held January 19. The 45-year-old elite miler from Chapel Hill, NC arrived at the Barton Hall oval on the Cornell University campus armed with a No. 1 seed, the title of defending champion, and numerous national Masters track gold and silver medals to his credit. So, flying low under the radar screen and catching people off guard is no easy feat.

In the Hartshorne men’s elite race, Hinton won his second-straight overall title, clocking 4 minutes, 20.18 seconds (4:20.18)—the seconds fastest time ever recorded in the event’s 41-year history.

Alain Boucher, 45, of Canata, Ontario was runner-up in 4:30.60 and 40-year-old Kent Lemme of Williamstown, MA was third in 4:31.33.

But Hinton saved the best trick for last. Once the victory was secure, he walked over to the race officials and informed them he had just set a pending American and world record by roughly one second for men ages 45 to 49.

On a perfect day, the Hartshorne elite races had the potential of producing a maximum of five American or world age-group records—it would get two. But Hinton was never part of that equation, because pre-race, officials thought he was age 44, not 45.

“It was better that way--no pressure,” Hinton said about his very first indoor record. “I need motivation. I walked into Barton Hall, looked at my bib number and saw the words Hartshorne Mile. I said to myself, ‘This may be the day.’”

There were other elite milers in the race who wanted it to be their day, namely Boucher and Lemme.

At the starter’s gun, the trio was tightly bunched for four laps, led through the 800-meter split in 2:10 by rabbit Scott Weeks of Cortland.

“I knew from last year, when I wanted the meet record, that I went out too fast at 2:07 pace at 800 meters,” Hinton said. “This year, I tried a different strategy by going for a 2:10. I wanted to feel comfortable, then go from there. Once Scott dropped out of the race, I was feeling loose and good. I got a new life, and my mind started calculating that with two laps to go, if I run a 65-second quarter, I can get the American and world record!”

At 1,200 meters, it was good-bye Hinton.

“John is a machine,” said Boucher, fifth in the 1,500 meters at the 2007 World Masters Track Championships. “My strategy was to hang onto John as long as I could, but when you don’t have it on a given day, you don’t have it. I may not have pure speed, because I was a steeplechaser. But, I’m mentally tough, I hung on for second, and I think I made it a race for John today.”

For Lemme, it was the identical match-up he’d had with Boucher at Nationals and with the same result.

“We both were in contact with Hinton through the 800, then I slowed down,” said Lemme, the 2007 national Masters 5K men’s 40-44 cross-country champion. “With one lap to go, Alain was in striking distance for me. I charged after him, but ran out of race.”

The other record-setting performance of the day was achieved by Frank Condon of Chico, CA who clocked a pending new American record of 5:22.02 for men ages 65 to 69. The 69-year-old super Senior, who owns the American records in the outdoor 800 and mile, was seeded in the section I race, for pacing purposes, with men 20 years his junior who could run times in the range of 5 minutes and 5:30.

 

W40S ELITE 800 RACE.
SUE PEARSALL PHOTO
“I felt great the first seven laps, then my wheels fell off,” said Condon, who was right on target until one lap to go. “I did want that record, so I had to stay focused. “I turned the last corner, saw the clock, and said ‘Oh my god, it’s going to be tight!’ It was the most exciting indoor race I’ve been to.”

In the women’s Elite race, defending champion Alisa Harvey, 42, of Manassas, VA won her second Hartshorne title in 4:52.33. The 11-time All-American at Tennessee is the only woman to break the 5-minute barrier in the women’s Masters mile’s 28-year history, and now she’s done it twice.

Zofia Wieciorkowska, 44, of Stratford, CT placed second in 5:08.95, while 41-year-old Kim Sheffield of Sarasota, FL was third in 5:10.74.

Harvey, the current world record holder among women ages 40 to 44 in the indoor mile and American record holder in the indoor 800 meters, was considered unbeatable. Right before the race, Wieciorkowska approached Harvey and said, “I’ll have to eat a horse to beat you!”

Rabbit Hollie Rhodes of Elmira led Harvey through 35-second quarters, setting a blistering pace. Wieciorkowska, Sheffield, Canadian Patty Blanchard, and former Ithaca College All-American Marisa Hanson were pushing each other and trading positions.

“The race was absolutely exactly as I wanted it to go,” said Harvey. “It just flowed. Once Hollie dropped, I felt alone. I didn’t want to push too hard, and have the women catch up to me. I then was thinking about the meet record, so on the bell lap, I gave it my all. But I couldn’t get it.”

Meanwhile, the race for second was in full swing. Sheffield and Hanson, in particular, put the hammer down on Wieciorkowska.

“I really did not care about Alisa because she’s so good, and goes for the good results with her rabbit,” said Wieciorkowska, second at the world championships in the 800, 1,500, and steeplechase. “I went slower this year, because it cost me last year to go out too fast. At six laps, the others started to pass me, but I wanted to stay in second place. On the last 200 meters, I had saved my energy and had a kick so strong.”

The men’s elite Veterans race was billed as the fastest assembly of 50 to 59-year-old track runners outside the world championships.

Colin Corkery, 50, of Needham, MA won the overall title in an elite Veterans meet record of 4:42.94. Corkery was presented with the Charlie McMullen Memorial Award created in honor of the Hartshorne Masters Mile three-time champion from Rochester who died in 2003 from cancer.

Nolan Shaheed, 58, of Pasadena, CA placed second in 4:45.59 and 52-year-old Jerry Kooymans of Markham, Ontario was third in 4:47.24.

“I didn’t know any of these guys, and they didn’t know me,” said Corkery, who won the men’s 50-to-59 division at the 2007 Fifth Avenue Mile. “I didn’t want to stay on the rabbit (Eric Davis of Ithaca), because that would have been too fast. Instead, I ran one place back, where I could be comfortable for the first half, and see what happened.”

What happened is it became a four-man race among Shaheed, Corkery, Kooymans, and defending Vet champion Steve Chantry of Virginia, all trading off the lead.

Kooymans grabbed the lead during laps six and seven, with Corkery and Shaheed on his tail.

“I’m not a miler, and couldn’t kick with the true milers,” said Kooymans, who holds Canadian records in the 800, mile, 3,000, and 5,000. “So I put pressure on before the final quarter. Then the kickers went by me on the last lap, but I think I helped Colin break the meet record.”

Shaheed was one of the kickers going by Kooymans on the bell lap.

“This is my first indoor race of the year, and I had no idea what I could do,” said Shaheed, a three-time gold medalist at the 2007 world championships, and the world record holder in the indoor mile. “I was clueless! I was in a trance for the first six laps of the race, then I started to feel good. On the last lap, I put the pedal to the metal.”

Corkery worked his way past Chantry, Shaheed, and Kooymans.

“I thought it would all come down to the last three laps, so I stayed as relaxed as possible,” Corkery said. “When Kooymans went by me so strongly, I thought he might win. But when I sped up, I gained on him. I thought I was the better kicker, so that gave me the confidence to pass again, and win it.”

The inaugural women’s elite Veterans mile was won by Patty Blanchard, 50, of New Dieppe, New Brunswick who posted at time of 5:22.20.

Suzanne Myette, 50, of Binghamton was second in 5:50.19, and 56-year-old Coreen Steinbach of Pompey, was third in 5:22.20.

Blanchard, who recently set a world record among women 50 to 54 in the 800 meters (2:25.02), raced in the elite women’s W40-44 race for pacing purposes. She finished fifth overall in that race, but vied only for the elite Veterans title.

“I had planned to go out at a 2:34 pace for the 800 meters, but did not feel quite like myself early in the race,” said Blanchard, who won the 2003 Hartshorne elite mile in a then world-record time of 5:08.55 for women ages 45 to 49. “I fell apart in the fifth lap. But I like to race with risk, taking chances with nothing to lose. I’m very pleased with my race, and it’s wonderful to be back.”