FALSE START #6 by David E. Ortman

[December 1999 National Masters News Reprinted by Permission ]


"A foolish consistency is a hobgoblin of little minds". There, I feel better already. Yes, I must confess I am looking forward to lower hurdle heights when I hit fifty. Letís face it. There would not be many High Hurdlers in the menís masters division if we still had to run the 42" college and open 110m Hurdle height. I suppose I could "five step" them, but Iíd need a hurricane of a tail wind to ever think that I could "three step" them. Heck, 42 inches is close to the U.S. Masters standard for M75 High Jump!

Besides, hurdle running is dangerous. Thatís why the hurdles (including the steeplechase) are usually the most watched events. Just as people flock to a car race track or an air show, what they are really hoping to see is a spectacular hurdle crash. In fact, if a hurdler can somehow knock down two or three of his/her competitors by sending hurdles flying it is even more exciting.

My best hurdle showing occurred back in 1973, running track for Bethel (KS) College . We began our outdoor season with a small triangle meet at Southwestern College and Coach put me in the 440 yd Hurdles. I smashed the first hurdle, nailed the second one and by the time I got down the back stretch my hurdling shoe flew off straight up in the air, which meant that I was hitting hurdles with my bare foot. I think I broke three or four hurdles and the Southwestern Coach said they couldn't afford to have me run them any more. But our Coach was amazed that I was still able to break sixty seconds and thought I had some promise. Ever since, give the crowd a show has been my motto.

However, at the risk of getting a shot put dropped on my hurdling foot, I fail to understand why in Masters Track & Field the weights get lighter as one gets older. For masters men, there are four different shot put and hammer weights, three different discus weights and two different javelins. Frankly, I donít think I need to throw a lighter shot put or discus when I hit fifty. You see, one of my goals is to break 35 feet with the college and open 16# (7.26k) shot put. I once putted the round orb 34í6" and it just wouldnít feel right to break 35 feet at age 50 with a 6k shot put. Same is true for the college and open 2k discus. Iím still trying to hit triple figures (100 ft.). I hit 98 ft. once, but Iíll be darned if Iím going to go home happy breaking 100 ft. with a lighter 1.5k discus when I hit the M50 division.

This notion of old guys needing lighter weights falls by the weighside (many puns intended) considering the heightened interest in the 35#, 56#, Super-, Ultra- Beyond the Ultra - and things as heavy as refrigerators- weight throws. I mean, whatís up with this "I want to pick up something as heavy as my car and throw it seven inches, but once I get into the shot put ring, I canít throw anything heavier than a marble"?

So I say, from college to the grave let there be one shot put and let that shot put be 16#. And keep lowering those hurdle heights!

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