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Sub Master (and Master) Runners on the road and the track


What is is a Sub Master (or Master) Runner? This is not an easy question for most runners and fans. Most runners and fans know as a runner ages they  slowly lose their speed  and endurance in sports.

 What they also know is a small percentage of runners age very slowly when it comes to running fast. Take for instance, the great Ethiopian athlete Haile Gebrselassie in his 30s.

Haile is the former World Record for the 10,000 and 5000 meters.  He is also the World Record holder in the Marathon at 37 years old. Some say he is a fast master runner, but you won't catch most calling him that.

At the age Haile is today  in 2010--37 years old, he is in no way  a sub master runner the way people think of submasters. If you need a reminder, just take a look at his Olympic time.

Haile ran a remarkable time in the 10,000 meters with a 27:07. This race was the fastest ever for the top six runners in the same race. In the 2004 Olympics at the age of 31, he ran for a fifth place finish.  

I mean a person must have had to just crawl out of a cave, or just came from the planet Neptune not to appreciate the athletic achievement of this man or relegate him to the cetegory of submaster.

 Same thing when you think of Johhny Gray.  I  just can't see someone walking up to the great Johnny Gray, after just winning five Olympic trials and saying 'you are a sub master 800 meter runner, Gray'. I think Johnny Gray was the most exciting 800m  runner of all time.

How many runners can just run out in 49 seconds, and just keep going like it was just a day in the park? It may look easy sitting up in the stand eating a hot dog, but it is not so easy out on the track.

We are talking about a runner doing this in his late 30s, in a race where it is hard to keep up at 30 years old.  

 If you think this is a joke, ask someone who raced Gray. I had my first encounter at the Steve Scoot Invitational in the 800 meters. Me and my long time teammate and training partner  Jack Armour a 1:45.6 half miler.

 Jack and I  were seeded in the fast heat, with five Santa Monica California five top  800  meters runners. The Announcer took about five minutes just calling out all their wins.

 After all that he moved to Gray's profile and it was like the who's who of the world of track. I said to myself, "I wonder if I can run with this guy? How could I not try it?"

 I was in lane two and Johnny Gray was in three.  Jack, knowing the way I train and race, walked up to me and said "let him go Joe." After all, he ran against Gray for over ten years, I should have let Gray go. .


Take a look at Steve Scott, another great  runner and former USA mile Record Holder. How many times has he run under 4:00 flat for the mile in his 30's, He also ran many  times under 3:40 in the 1500 meters.

I know there are many other great runners in their late 30's I am not mentioning. The point is some never compete like what people ordinarily think of as master runners.They get out and race harder and faster than most open runners so why call them masters just because of their age? 

Yes you may see a race or two where they  finish in the back, but look at the time. Most of their times, might win 80% of  open races here in the USA. 

Will you call Michael  Johnson a 19.30 ~200 meters and 43.2 ~400, former World Holder a master runner? Why not, he trained and competed when he was in his 30's, not late 30's, but  his 30's.

 I trained with Jack Armour, for almost ten years, and six of them when Jack was in his 30s. When he was 37 years old, Jack was able to run under 1:48 with the right race.

 The last race we ran together,  we ran a 1:51 ~ 800 and we had a bad day. Suffering from a Achilles injury made it very difficult to train the last five months of the year. 

We can also look at Jim Sorensen, who ran a 3:44.8 ~1500, and 1:50.4 ~ 800 at 39 years old. I think you can win 70% of the Open and College races with those times.

 What makesit move amazing is that Jim only competed about five times a year in his 30s. I don't know many open runners in the 20s can top that.

When I was 34 years old, I ran a 1:50.40 ~ 800 and 3:51.11 ~ 1500 meters. I could have won the Master USA Indoors and Outdoors Nationals  easily. 


So I ask you:   What is a Sub Master runner. 

Joe Carnegie