|(At the start)|
|(Jean Pommier, far more awake than me)|
|(Poland, UK, France, Columbia...from everywhere!)|
|(M80 Ed Whitlock crushing the 1500m)|
I went through the warm up motions, already showing signs of unusual fatigue and sore spots from a wonderful 2,500-mile family road trip over the last three weeks. On top of that, I had a grand total of nine hours sleep in the previous three nights. Well done, Scott, nice prep! But it's tough to create excuses when the three guys warming up next to you are in the highly competitive 70-75 age group. Can you imagine the kinks and sore spots they are working through? Crazy. So I figured it's best to just go out fast and make the most of a PR-possible course of five loops along the American River. Luckily, I ran into ultrarunner Jean Pommier, fresh off getting 8th in his age group in the 10k a few days earlier, and knew that I could just hang onto his shoulder for the first half to be in the 1:18-1:20 range. Jean looked like he was going for 100k with his handheld water bottles, but I suspect he would be a contender for his M45-49 age group for sure. If I needed to slow a bit, ultrarunner Annette Bednosky would certainly be in the 3-hour range (I know this because she said "3:10'ish", and she usually comes in faster than expected).
We made a quick loop around the CSU-Sac campus before getting onto the American River Parkway, and the pack quickly split up with a few dozen running sub-2:45 pace. The Bay Area's Tony Torres, very capable of a 2:30 marathon, was up front and feeling good that neither the Ethiopian or Kenyan marathoners (posting sub-2:20 qualifying times) could make it. I hung on with Jean, who was going fast enough that our conversation was sparse at best, citing only the deja vu of running this bike trail in the dark (a la the American River 50 or Helen Klein 50). By the time we completed the first lap (mile 5), the sun was illuminating the cloud filled sky. Just as predicted, Jean was pulling us at a 6:09 min/mile pace with ease.
|(Early AM on the course)|
|(Jean takes us over the footbridge to finish the first lap)|
|(77-year-old Mogens Dam from Denmark going strong, and wondering what the hell I'm doing with a camera)|
We began lapping the slower runners quite regularly at this point, and I was really impressed with how fast they were going. M80, F75...nobody was walking, not even on the climbs. They were all true and trained athletes, and to be honest, I was jealous of all the hardbodies. Boy, I sure wish I can look that good in 30 years! Most of all, I loved seeing the smiles on all of their faces. There is no place any of them would rather be.
|(80-year-old Michio Kumamoto smiles on his way to Gold for Japan in 5:56)|
Hector pulled me all the way to mile 25, then kicked it up a notch to sprint to the finish and urge on one of his teammates. I came in 26th place in 2:52:04, not bad for an off day. Jean did great, coming in 2:47 for the bronze in his age group and securing the age group win for Team USA, as did Annette who won gold in her age group with a PR 3:01 (see what I mean?). Nice! I got some hydration and cheered on the runners, simply astounded by some of the finish times. USA's Terry McCluskey finished less than a minute behind me to win the...gulp!...M60-64 age group! Damn, that's quick. He didn't think so, and pointed out that the whole M60-64 podium would go sub-3. Whoa! Columbia's Hernan Rio clocked at 3:17 at the ripe age of 71...and our very own M40 Tony Torres won in 2:32 (all results). Everyone brought their "A" game for sure.
|(Some of Team USA members chatting at the finish)|
|(Hans Heidelberger goes 3:01 at age 57...and sacrifices a nipple for his country)|
|(Team Mexico had some great finishes, like Meliton Bautista Carba's 3:05 in the M65-69 age group)|
|(The man who set the pace for me nearly the whole race, Hector Juarez, after his 2:51:58 finish)|
|(Top Masters women - the hilarious Verity Breen from Australia, USA's Sara Gigilotti, and winner Sally Gibbs from New Zealand)|
The next WMA is in Brazil if you are interested. Thanks to all the great volunteers and officials for a fun event!