September 10, 2022 2 min read 1 Comment
Roger Vergin was determined to set a new U.S. mark in the Men's 85 Decathlon. He did it at less than 100 percent. Photo: courtesy Rob Jerome.
By Ray Glier
Roger Vergin has a remedy for the pain that starts in your lower back and runs down your leg. This fix worked for him, but maybe you should check with your doc first.
Just run a 100-meter race.
No, really. 100 meters was his prescription.
Vergin, who has now won seven consecutive USA Track & Field Masters Combined Events Championships, has been battling back pain for 14 weeks. The tenderness hindered his performances at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in July in Lexington, Ky.
He kept grinding through treatment.
At the Combined Events Championships in St. Louis (August 27-28), Vergin (Ver-jeen) entered the Decathlon (M85) and hoped for the best. His goal when 2022 started was to set a new U.S. record in the Decathlon, but that was in jeopardy with the health issue.
The first event in St. Louis was the 100 meters. He ran.
It was as if a stimulator had been implanted in his back. The pain was calmed.
“The pain doctor attributes that to the sprinting increasing the blood flow and somehow quieting down the nerve impulses causing the pain down the leg,” Roger said.
“With a little bit of fast-paced warmup and then the 100 sprint, I was pain-free and stayed that way through the long jump, shot put, and high jump. By the time of the 400-meter, the pain had returned somewhat but was still not too bad.”
Vergin would not slow down. He went on to set an American record in the Decathlon for M85 with 6,021 points, breaking a mark that had stood for 11 years. He was the only entrant in this M85, but the fact he amassed the points is the bigger deal because it placed him second in the world for 2022, according to mastersrankings.com.
Vergin also broke the U.S. M85 record for the 80 meter hurdles, which had stood for 15 years, clocking 18.75 against the previous mark of 20.00 set by Ralph Maxwell in 2007.
“Going into 2022, I expected to break the record by several hundred points,” Vergin said. “After my injury in May and my limited subsequent training, I went into the (St. Louis) meet thinking I would have to do every event reasonably well to break the record by even a single point.
“I did eight events well. I messed up the high jump and then struggled through the 1500 meters, but the other eight were at least satisfactory and some were excellent.”
His gold medal total in national and international events is up to 105.
It was a gritty effort considering what Vergin had to go through just to compete.
He has been in physical therapy twice a week for months. He has received an epidural steroid injection, and sticks to a regimen of stretching exercises three times a day. Roger hangs from his feet using an inversion table twice a day.
"The pain has been reduced, but it is still there," he said.
Healthy, Vergin might have set the Decathlon bar high for many years. Less than 100 percent, he still may have a mark that will endure for years.
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