Charles Allie dramatically demonstrated the capabilities of masters track athletes by racing to a new World Record M70 of 25.75 during the 200m Masters Exhibition Event (MEE) at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa on June 21.
The crowd’s reaction clearly demonstrated it was another major another PR coup for the MEE program. Although there was very little lead time to put this masters event together, New MEE Chair Linda Carty, along with outgoing chair Joy Upshaw, managed to fill most of the lanes with athletes willing to help their sport. And, they represented very well.
In the mixed gender event, all the men; Allie, Ty Brown (27.66), Roger Pierce (28.72), and Paul Milewski (29.81) dipped under 30 seconds while the two women, Leandra Funk (32.48) and Ann Hegstrom (37.76) delighted the crowd with their races. Hometown girl Hegstrom especially received cheers when she stepped out onto the track in her Iowa racing top.
Tim Hutchings, the very knowledgeable, former elite runner who announces Diamond League races for NBCSN, appreciated the work these masters athletes put in and expressed his admiration in the race video. The competition received 5-minutes of TV commentary, all positive, all celebratory of Allie’s efforts and the entire masters field. Provided notes by MEE Chair Carty, each athlete was mentioned and celebrated on air. This is a huge step forward for this program, which was formerly relegated to pre or post meet slots.
The Masters Exhibition Events are intended as showcases for MTF. Although the athletes compete, it may be in mixed age, ability and sometimes gender races. The intent is to provide needed exposure for Masters Track and Field and to illustrate that anyone can participate. Watching healthy, older athletes age 50-plus provides a very positive impression of our sport.
As the MEE events happen only at the discretion of meet directors, it is vital to fill all the lanes, and show that there is great crowd support. The athletes who agree to participate receive the same privileges, credentials and attention as the elite athletes at the meet. It is a rare honor to be on the track with heroes of the sport, it helps promote MTF, and as anyone who has ever participated in it can tell you, it is loads of fun. Consider registering for the next MEE at a future BIG meet. And when you see them, thank and congratulate Charles, Ty, Roger, Paul, Leandra and Ann!