August 05, 2023 3 min read 2 Comments
Jeannie Rice winning the 1500 in Greensboro. Photo credit: Rob Jerome.
By Ray Glier
She is a juggernaut on asphalt, why wouldn't Jeannie Rice fly on a track surface?
And to set world records at the same time as transitioning to a new surface?
And stamping on new marks while adjusting her pace from longer races to shorter races?
It's a pretty impressive replication of talent.
At the 2023 USATF Masters Outdoor Championships, the 75-year old Rice set three world records, the last a wicked 6:14.88 in the 1500m to beat the field by nearly a minute. Her time took six seconds off of the existing world record.
The marathon star told Runners World it was her first time running on a track.
Rice also set world marks in the 5,000 and 10,000 and said she was prodded to run on a track by, among others, the Masters great long-hauler, Gene Dykes.
“When Jeannie and I were discussing our 2023 racing schedule, I told her, ‘You absolutely have to enter the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships. You’ll be a sensation’. I was happy to have been proven right.”
Was this the first time Gene prodded her to get on a track?
“Maybe not,” he said, “but it’s probably the first time I insisted.”
Rice ran 22:41.46 in the 5K averaging 7:18 per mile pace and took more than 12 seconds off the previous 75-79 world mark.
Rice ran the 10,000 meters in 46:53.07, scraping 3:07 off the previous record, set by Melitta Czerwenka-Nagel of Germany in 2005.
It was not a bad performance at all for somebody who prefers to run 26.2 miles as a champion marathoner. Rice ran 3:33 at the Boston Marathon this year.
It would have been Jeannie’s show alone in Greensboro, except for the presence of Sue McDonald. The California mom also set three world records.
McDonald clocked a startling world record in the 300m hurdles at 48.89 in the 60-64 division. She beat the field by 15 seconds in an event she rarely trains for.
McDonald was nearly as dominant when she broke the world record in the 400 with 1:02.34. It shaved four seconds off the previous mark.
Sue also won the 800 in 2:29.97, a new world record for the age group. She won the race by 10 seconds, though you could almost say she coasted to the win. Earlier this year in Los Angeles, Sue ran a 2:22.52 and that record, not the run in Greensboro, will likely be certified as the world record.
While Rice was a surprise at her new events, McDonald had her own flash with something sort of new. She last ran the hurdles full-time in junior college 40 years ago and had practiced them maybe three times in 2023.
What did she do with limited hurdles workouts? A world record.
“Muscle memory,” she chuckled.
"I just relied on my speed from the 400, the endurance from the 800, and my college experience, but it's not something that I train for," Sue said.
Her favorite race is still the 400 and McDonald gave the Europeans plenty to think about next month at their championships in Italy with the 1:02.54.
There was some heavy lifting in the swelter of Greensboro in the 400, 800, and hurdles and various prelims. McDonald had a strategy to save her energy.
What she decided to do was bank on the 2:22.52 she set in the 800 in May in Los Angeles as holding up as a world record. So Sue decided to not push her hardest in the Greensboro 800 final so she could have some gas left for the final day Sunday. She could win the 800, she said, but not bust a gut in doing so.
McDonald got under 2:30, which was the goal, and claimed the gold (2:29.97).
About the meet itself, McDonald said, "Yes, I definitely was very happy with the way things turned out."
She is not done yet for 2023. McDonald is going to do the heptathlon at the USATF Masters Outdoor Combined Events National Championships in Walnut, Ca., August 12-13.
We should expect a surprise the way McDonald's year is going. Here is the story Geezer Jock did on her in May.
The strength of Masters track & field in the U.S. showed throughout the championships in one age division after another. Just a couple of notes:
The Southwest Sprinters men’s 55-59 team erased the world record in the 4X100 with Derek Pye, Khalid Mulazim, Allan Tissenbaum, and David Gibbon in 45.60. They broke a world mark that has stood 16 years. Tissenbaum is 63.
Elizabeth Deak won the women’s 65-69 400m to break the previous world record of 1:11.45. She went 1:07.23 to win her race by nearly 10 seconds.
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