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Posted: March 17, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Athletics: Benoit Samuelson, Rono, Raschker headline record entries for USA Masters Indoors

LANDOVER, Md. - The 2009 USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships at Prince George's Sports and Learning Center in Landover Md., Friday-Sunday, March 20-22, have attracted some of the world's top masters athletes, including at least 12 Olympians and 58 reigning world record holders. With the theme of lifetime fitness, the meet is open to all athletes 30 and up. The oldest competitor is 95.

Nearly 1,000 athletes - a record for the USA Masters Indoor Championships since the meet's 1974 beginnings and the most for any masters indoor meet ever in North America - will compete.

National Track & Field Hall of Famer Joan Benoit Samuelson, 51 of Freeport, Maine, the 1984 gold medalist in the first Olympic women's marathon, is targeting the American and world 50+ records in women's 3,000 meters. The opening-day event is slated for 12:30 p.m. on Friday. The M50 3000 features another 1984 Olympic marathoner, John Tuttle of Atlanta.

Kenyan-born running legend Henry Rono will run the mile Saturday at 12:30 PM and 800 meters Sunday. In an unprecedented record binge in 1978, Rono broke four open world records in 81 days - the 10,000, 5000, 3000, and 3000 steeplechase - and continued breaking records through 1981. Now 57, he remains committed to high quality running as a master. He also coaches in Albuquerque, N.M., and recently published a book.

Two-time Sullivan Award Finalist Philippa Raschker, 62, of Marietta, Georgia is in several running and field events. Twice in the last five years, including 2008, Raschker made the short list of the top five for America's top amateur athlete of any age. Among her competitors for the Sullivan award were swimmer Michael Phelps, skater Apolo Ohno, basketball star Lebron James, and football quarterback Tim Tebow. Raschker won ten gold medals at the 2007 World Masters Outdoor Championships in Italy and was voted the outstanding competitor. She also is the reigning USATF Masters Athlete of the Year.

In the mile and 800, Rono will compete with 59-year-old Nolan Shaheed of Pasadena, Calif., a USATF Masters Athlete of the Year and multi-world champion, who also is a renowned trumpeter/jazz musician. Shaheed was musical director for Marvin Gaye and played lead trumpet with Count Basie, Natalie Cole, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Phil Collins, and Anita Baker. He has also performed and toured with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. Shaheed will play the National Anthem after his mile race Saturday. National Champion Horace Grant of Houston is a favorite in the M55 800.

The MD-DC-VA area is home to an unusually large number of masters athletes. Among local national stars in the meet are five-time Olympic trials qualifier Alisa Harvey, 43, of Manassas, Va. In the 800; 1976 Olympian Jim Barrineau, 53, of Burke, Va., in the high jump; 20-time world and national sprint titlist Larry Colbert, 71, of Bowie, Md., who is coach of the Glenarden Track Club; U.S. masters high jump record holder Bruce McBarnette, 51, of Sterling, VA; and many-time masters age group athlete of the year, James Stookey, 79, of Dickerson, Md., in the 60m, 60h, LJ, and TJ.

Other top entrants include Canadians: 1988 Olympian Renee Belanger, 46, (800 Meters), and Earl Fee, who has set records in every age group he enters and said he will assault the world 800 meter record in his new M80 division. The meet's international flavor also includes top competitors from Brazil, Great Britain, and Mexico.

Other stars already entered include 2004 USATF Masters Athlete of the Year Kathryn Martin, 57, of Northport N.Y.; USATF 2008 age group masters track & field athletes of the year Christel Donley, 74, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Oneithea Lewis, 48, of Oakland Gardens N.Y. Masters' "Good Will Ambassador" and multi-world champion Sid Howard of Plainfield, N.J., has turned 70 and will assault the mile and 800n records. Frank Condon, 66 of Chico, Calif., will star in the M65 400, 800, and mile. Mary Louise Michaelson, 67, another multi-world champion from New York City, will excel in the 800, mile, and 3000.

The oldest competitor entered is 95-year-old Leland McPhie of San Diego, who is slated to compete in no fewere than seven events: 60m, high jump, long jump, shot, weight, super weight, and triple jump. Close behind is 94-year-old Frank Levine, 94, of Norristown, Pa., in the 3000, mile, and 800. Oldest D.C.-area competitor is Charles Boyle, 85, of Annapolis, Md., in the 3000 Meter racewalk.

Individual event finals begin 10:30 AM Friday, 9AM Saturday, 9:30 AM Sunday. Events include:
· FRIDAY, March 20: Indoor Pentathlon (multi-event), 3000m Run, Weight Throw.
· SATURDAY, March 21: 60m Dash, 60m Hurdles, 400m Dash, One Mile Run, 4x800m Relay, Long Jump, Shot Put, Pole Vault, High Jump (men), Weight Throw (women).
· SUNDAY, March 22: High Jump (women), 200m Dash, 800m Run, 3000m Race Walk, 4x400m Relay, Triple Jump, Weight Throw (men), Superweight Throw.

Potomac Valley Track Club (PVTC), which won the bid for this year's nationals, is hosting and directing the meet, with support from USA Track & Field's Potomac Valley Association (PVA).

For more information on the 2009 USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships, visit USATF.org.

For media information, and for advance or onsite interviews of athletes or organizers, contact USATF National Masters Media Chair Bob Weiner 301-283-0821 or cell 202-329-1700, email weinerpublic@comcast.net.

About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.

For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.


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