March 31, 2004

FEATURE STORY

National Masters Meet Includes Former NFL All Star, Body Builder, And More
by Bob Weiner, National Masters Track Media Chair

75 year-old Earl Fee of Mississauga, Ontario epitomized the fire and spirit of last weekend's National Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships in Boston. With a smile and yet a determined fire in his eyes in his last lap of the eight, he blazed a 5:41.3 new world mile record for 75+. The crowd of 1000 competitors, spouses, and meet officials roared approval and support during and right after his effort. It was only one of three world records he set at the meet, including the 400 (66.28) and 800 (2:32.47).

USATF-New England President Gary Snyder, whose group hosted this meet as well as the US Open Championships two weeks earlier, both at the world-class Reggie Lewis Track, said, "This meet is the best. To see people 30 to 90 compete is inspirational."

Everyone was particularly inspired when track-stopping former national female body building champion Catherine Stone-Borkowski, 42 years old from Ringwood, NJ, won not one but two national championships here, with a strategically brilliant hold-for-the-end sprint in the mile (5:18.85) and a going-away victory in the 800 (2:25.26).

Kathy Martin, of Northport, NY, 52, tripled with wins in the 3000 (10:23.84), mile (5:24.03), and 800 (2:28.07) -- breaking the American 3000 age record and missing a world 800 record by one second. Her performances and her gracious charm showed why she was picked to star in Nike's TV ads.

Sid Howard, 65, of Plainfield, NJ appropriately owns and manages "Super-Fast Deliveries" (for furniture, household, and business items) when he is not running--but that isn't often. Back from winning double gold at the World Indoor Championships in Germany earlier this month, Sid repeated his wins here in the mile and 800, but did not need to best his recent American records of 5:23.1 and 2:19.4. All around the track, Howard is recognized as one of America's best ambassadors for the sport and mission of masters track with his enthusiasm and support for everyone involved from athletes to organizers.

Todd Christensen, 46, five-time Pro Bowl All-Star for the Oakland Raiders, participated in the meet for the first time and had a ball--taking two quite remarkable seconds in the shot put and hurdles and telling the Athletes' Meeting that "Very few will go home with medals but everyone wins by participating." Tom Gage, 60, of Billings, MT demolished the American super weight record by 10 feet with 74' 10 ".

In all, 26 world and 42 American records were set during the three-day meet. But maybe the best part was riding the meet's shuttle buses from the hotel to the track and listening to the chatter: "In the '69 World's..." "In '88 in the Triple Jump..." "That first sub-four mile by Beatty at Millrose..."

Masters Track and Field is unique, memorable, and memory-borne.