September 16, 2022 4 min read 6 Comments
Photo: Courtesy Rob Jerome. Charles Allie beat prostate cancer. Now he is aiming to beat his rivals as he plans a 2023 comeback.
By Ray Glier
Charles Allie drives either a slick Corvette, or a rugged F-150 truck. The contrariety in the man’s life doesn’t stop with his rides.
He is a retired teacher, but he is not retired as a track athlete. He had prostate cancer in 2021 and early 2022, but he won’t consider himself fragile. His legs are what he’s known for, except in his neighborhood, where he is everyone’s favorite handyman.
Here is the biggest contradiction: he should be on the down slope at 75 years old as a sprinter. He's not.
The rascally Charles is looking at 2023 as if he is a new edition of a bestseller. He intends to make next year epic, especially with the National Senior Games in his hometown, Pittsburgh.
“I’m looking at setting some world records,” said Allie, who will run the 75-79 age bracket in the 100, 200, and 400 in 2023. “You have to take advantage of being the youngest in the age group. It comes around once every five years.”
The man refuses to be formatted as “retired” or “old” or “fragile.”
For almost 20 years, Allie was a fixture on a national and international stage in Masters track. He has been ranked No. 1 in the world in the 60, 200, and 400…all in the same year and in multiple years, according to mastersrankings.com.
At the top of the Men’s 65 age scale, Allie was No. 1 in the world in the 200 meter dash in 2017 at 69. He was so good in his "prime" he blew up the notion that the older you are in an age cohort, the less competitive you should be,
Then came the cancer diagnosis in late 2021 and the treatments that carried into 2022. Weight gain was forced on him from hormonal therapy and an extra nine pounds on a sprinter is hardly optimal. The radiation took away some muscle mass from his thighs and that impacted explosiveness.
The great Charles Allie went to a meet early in 2022…and didn’t even medal.
It was the 60-meter dash at the Armory in New York at the 2022 USA Track & Field Masters Indoor Championships. He false-started in the prelims. Officials let him stay in the race and he qualified into the finals.
He finished fourth in the 70-74 age group.
“I had to put myself out there and see where I was,” Allie said. “Everybody was watching and I’m sure they were wondering when I didn’t even medal.
“But I needed to be there and talk to others with the prostate issue and be around the other athletes. I didn’t want to take the time off to get my strength back and fully recover. I had to show up and be around the athletes, win or lose.”
Allie competed in 14 races in 2022. When he competed in the National Senior Games in May, with a little more training and after his therapy had ended, he had regained some form. Rules permitted Allie to jump to the 75-79 age group and, as one of the youngest competitors, he won the 50 (7.52 seconds) and finished second in the 100 and 200 to Kenton Brown.
“Kenton was thrilled to beat me and he should have been; I was the same way when I was coming up and beat a guy who had been a champion, that’s what competition is all about,” Allie said. “Losing motivates me more. I need to try harder.”
In the USA Track & Field National Masters Outdoor Championships in Lexington in July, Allie had to compete in the 70-74 age group and finished second in the 100 with a 14.27. Michael Kish, 71, ran 13.22 for the gold.
Allie was third in the 200, which Kish also won.
The prostate cancer slowed him down, but Allie got through 14 races in 2022, including relays, without any injuries. So far.
Charles is down to 159 pounds. He is sweating, running, and pushing for 154 or 155 when he starts his quest in 2023 to be the most dominant masters sprinter in the world....again.
“I didn’t realize it would take that long to lose three or four pounds,” Charles said. “I weigh myself every morning. I need to do some offseason cross country running and ride my bike and get in the gym. I have free access to a gym with Silver Sneakers so I will pick that up.
“Right now, I have a sore Achilles, so I’m just resting.”
Charles has his program planned 2023. Poland for the world indoors. Louisville for USATF masters indoors. The National Senior Games in Pittsburgh. The USATF outdoors in Greensboro. The world outdoors in Sweden.
Allie is not going to reinvent himself with a new training regimen. He trusts the workouts he has used in Masters track, which are three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
“I’m more of a 200 and 400 guy,” he said. “My 100 time is lacking. I have a better shot at world records in 200 and 400.”
When he needs speed work, Allie can call Allan Tissenbaum, the fastest old guy on the planet, who also lives on the same side of town in the Steel City. It used to be Allie could train with some of the kids on the youth track team he helps coach, but many did not come back after the pandemic.
Charles does not take the good genes he was blessed with for granted. He doesn’t do supplements. He just exercises. And he eats right. He is fighting the doctor over whether to take cholesterol meds.
“I’m an Oatmeal person,” he said with a laugh when I asked him what he takes.
That Corvette Charles drives is a 1996 silver model, a convertible with a red interior. Different, right? It is considered a Collector’s edition, they didn’t make too many. Just like its driver.
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