Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Sport

Mandela – A Remembrance

Nelson Mandela once said that “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire.”  Mandela-sports-quoteSport does have the power to inspire, as did Mandela. Though boxing was his sport, he was also a cross-country runner. It was jogging that was his companion through 27 years in prison.  It’s reported he jogged seven miles of day, sometimes in a cell, sometimes in the prison courtyard.

English: Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robbe...

English: Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island Français : Cellule de Nelson Mandela, Robben Island Deutsch: Nelson Mandelas Gefängniszelle auf Robben Island Myanmasa: Robben Island (ရော်ဘင်ကျွန်း)ပေါ်ရှိ Nelson Mandela’s (နယ်လဆင် မန်ဒဲလား) ၏ထောင်အခန်း (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early in the morning. Twenty-seven years, seven miles a day, jogging in limited space. Sometimes followed by push-ups. Early in the morning. Before work detail.

No Garmin to record those miles. A treadmill?  I doubt it.

This vision rather diminishes any discomfort or boredom on those days when ice and frigid temperatures make me see reason, opting to step on the treadmill. It offers blinking lights, measured miles, set pace, neat storage space for my water bottle. Disgruntled that my spirit can’t run free down the path along the river this day, I run the miles.  Not 7, but a few. Not years, but a day or two. Considering this, I am both in awe and feeling silly with the notion that such strength and focus can even be comprehended.
Sport – and Nelson Mandela – wil continue to inspire this runner.

Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993.

Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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USATF Masters Championship 5K

Funny thing about running, new experiences can occur after decades of racing the same distance.  Running a weekend 5K generally isn’t noteworthy.

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Last weekend’s Syracuse Festival of Races was for me – for at least three reasons. It was:

1) a first experience running in a USATF Masters race (I’m a little late in starting, since I was age-qualified 26 years ago).  The Festival of Races hosted the USA Track & Field Masters 5K Championship Race for 2013.

2) a first experience standing within four feet of the Start line before the race start.  USATF Masters participants lined up at the Start in front of runners in the general 5K.

3) a first experience having my shoe come untied during a race, not just at a 5K but at any of the hundreds of races I have run.

Within 20 feet after crossing the start line, I felt the sting of a shoestring tip snapping against my shin.  My initial hope was the shoestring belonged to someone running beside me.  No such luck.  I was near the outside of the course and quickly hopped to the curb to avoid becoming a hazard to any of the other women running.  Within 30 seconds, my shoe was retied and I worked myself back into the moving stream of runners. but not before the Masters pack had left me far behind.  Now, I was where I usually start at a 5K – back in the middle of the pack.

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F65-69AG awardees Sue Gustafson (24:32) , Jan Holmquist (22:08),  Lenore Webber (25:04) with USATF LD Runners Div. Chair Don Lein

That 2) and 3) would occur at 1) was a disappointment.  That I finished 5th out of 7th in my F65-69 age group with a 27:05 was not. The level of performance among the Masters runners was inspiring.  I felt honored to be running with such talented women.

Stumbling across this race was a gift to begin with. My travels were taking me through Syracuse NY and as usual I looked for a local running group or race.  I could have registered for the 5K without registering for the championship, but why not step it up?  I looked through the information on registering. To participate in the Masters 5K, registrants were required to be U.S. citizens (✔) , members of USATF ( ✔) but no performance standard required (✔).

I’m pleased I made that decision.  The USATF staff were welcoming.  At the reception room pre-race evening, I picked up training trips from other runners, both members of track clubs from around the country, including runner and author John Farah, and a few unaffiliated runners like me.

John Farah after a 23:47 finish in the 70-74 AG

John Farah after a 23:47 finish in the 70-74 AG


Race day, USATF had a tent for Masters runners offering water, coffee, bananas and a temporary dry space as sporadic rain came down. We left warmup clothes in that space as well. I could get spoiled with this treatment.

Awards were presented at an optional brunch following the 5K. I could rave about some of the finish times announced, but will instead leave you with a link to the results

If USATF membership and their races, Masters and overall, are of interest to you, take a look at their 2014 National Championship Series race schedule.ffl