New for this year is an honest-to-goodness monetary award in the nontrivial amounts of $1,000 for any world record and $500 for any American record set at the event. For the mathematically disinclined, that means an athlete who achieves two American records will earn as much money as one who sets a single world record. Plot your strategies accordingly.
The real world benefit of setting these prizes is the attraction of some of the biggest names in masters track and field, including Nolan Shaheed with six world records under his belt for distance events in the men’s 50-65 age groups and Kathryn Martin, who didn’t start running until her 30’s but now holds nine individual world records and a whopping 23 individual American records in the women’s 50-65 age groups. Whew, that was a long sentence.
The Masters Festival is a track meet in the grandest sense of the term, with a full collection of running, jumping, and throwing events that would give the ancient Greeks a run for their drachma. There’s practically a race of every length we have measurements for, from the nonstandard 50m dash to the 5,000m long run (for which the number of laps required approaches infinity). And yes, there’s even a pole vault, which — let’s not kid ourselves — is going to be awesome.
Before the official events begin, teams from our local firefighters, police, sheriff's department, highway patrol, teachers, and search and rescue squad will take to the track for the Heroes Relay Race. This 4 x 400-meter relay celebrates hometown heroes and public servants, and rewards the winning team with an engraved plaque to hold on to until the next Heroes Relay. After all, while the hardworking individuals who make up these teams spend their days saving lives and shaping minds, nobody is truly a hero until their name is engraved on a plaque hanging on the wall. So expect fierce competition!
Do you have an itch to dust off your running shoes and hit the track again? Registration for the Festival is still open, but don’t delay — you can sign up online through May 17, or via snail mail through May 15. And hey, even if you don’t set a world record, you could still walk away with a gold-plated silver dollar if you take first place overall in the age-graded results. Not too shabby; not too shabby at all.