Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Grand Masters Set World Best

On Friday at St. Olaf in Northfield a team of 50+ Grand Masters broke the record for the four by 1,600 meter relay. All four(pictured here from left to right: Brad Givot, Dan Morse, Bobby Paxton, and Dave Tappe. Photo by Maiken Givot) answered questions about the run for DtB.

DtB: How did you come up with the idea of going after the record?

Bobby Paxton: I came up with idea of setting a record after talking with some great master's runners from New York. They talked with pride how they had four grand masters who ran a 4X1600 in 5:05 pace which exceeded the world best. I told Mike Bjornberg at that time, that I believed Minnesota had some of the best master/grand master runners in the world and deserved to get some press. I told him that when I turned 50 that I would talk to my fellow Minnesota grand master runners about making an attempt at breaking the world best.

Dan Morse:
This idea was hatched by Bobby Paxton a couple years ago after talking to some guys from the east coast at a meet in Boston and then seeing the records listed in National Masters News. He knew we were very capable of breaking the record. We were going to try last year but I had some Achilles problems and the rest of the team said they would rather wait until I could run.

Brad Givot: Our Team Captain Dan (Morse) came up with this idea, bless his heart. I first heard about the idea in the summer of 2006 from Dan. I had not competed since 2000, and I only ran lightly four days a week and swam for all of my difficult training.

I had a serious ice fall injury with a permanent disability back in the beginning of 2005 and there was a limited amount of running I could actually do. I stopped running for several months after my ice fall injury. Dan inspired me to get back into shape. In the summer of 2006, I trained like there was no tomorrow. I was planning to race with Dan's team in January or February of 2007.

In fact, while vacationing in Paris during New Years of 2007, I forfeited morning croissants and French coffee in order to run repeats up and down the steep hills of Montmartre every morning. When I returned from Paris and heard that the competition was off, I was very disappointed and I stopped training hard.

Dave Tappe: The first I heard of the idea of going after the record was from Dan on one of our Saturday morning runs about a year and half ago. Dan said it has been in the works for a few years as he was injured last year and everyone basically waited for him to get healthy.

DtB: No thoughts of using a sub last year and going for it?

DM: I would have been okay with them substituting for me, but they didn't want to.

BP: There was never a thought of replacing Dan --- he is the consummate team member who will give his all to further his team's goals.

DT: No thoughts of using a sub. Dan was the one organizing the event.

DtB: Why these four guys?

DM: We first tried to get all Run N Fun or former Run N Fun guys. There are six to eight other 50+ guys that are at least as fast, if not faster, than the group we used. If I were to put the best on the track, I wouldn't include myself. Fortunately, I'm fast enough to contribute to beating the time of 20:47. Last year the team was Brad, Perry (Bach), Bobby and I. Perry got injured and we called in Dave. I got injured, and we delayed the run until this year. This year it was Brad, Don Landin, Bobby and I. Perry was injured, Charlie Roach was skiing. Don got the flu, and we called Dave.

BP: I am really proud to be a Minnesota runner, and wanted the world to know that we are deep in national and world level runners.

DT: You'll have to ask Dan that question. I got the call on Wednesday to be a sub for Don Landin who was unable to run due to the flu. Dan wanted to get of hold of me as soon as he could so I wouldn't go out and run myself into the ground Thursday night at the Dome.

DtB: How close did you have to run to your current PBs for the 1600 to do what you did on Friday?

DM: I ran 5:11 at the Meet of Miles after three weeks of a cold. I ran 4:57 at Rice Street last year.

BG: This was my first race since TCM 2000 when I was 44. However, I had not raced the mile in over fifteen years. When I was in graduate school at Cornell University, I could run a half mile in under two minutes without much problem, but I had many doubts about what I could do now that I was 51 years old.

Thanks to Coach Dennis Barker at Augsburg, I was able to practice some 1200 meter and 800 meter time trials to restore my confidence. I was pretty sure that I could run pace for the indoor world record, but I was not sure if I could run under 5 minutes.. When I received the baton for my anchor leg, I noticed that I would have to go 4:53 or faster for the team to make it under 20 minutes. I was concerned, running my first race in many years, that If I ran too hard I could either tie up or get injured running.

I ran my anchor leg hard, but conservatively in order to preserve the world record pace that my teammates had already paced well beyond.

BP: I have had a few injuries since turning 50 but when I was 49 I ran the TC marathon one mile in 4:59. I know that in future attempts to surpass the record that I will perform better. I had no worries about breaking the record because all four of us are capable of breaking 5:00 in the mile.

DT: The last time I ran a mile on the track was a little over a year ago at the Meet of Miles and that was around 4:55, so another year older and slower.

DtB: How confident were you of getting the record if everything went right?

DM: Very confident. I thought we could run 20:00. Having a 47 seconds cushion made the new "World Best" a forgone conclusion in my mind.

BG: Dan said the goal was to go under 20, that means an average of under five, so everybody must have felt capable of going under or you were counting on one of you to go way under. I thought we could all run about 5:00. I thought someone would run a few seconds faster.

DT: Good question! I was fortunate, I only had to think about for a couple days. I knew that Dan and Bobby were both capable of running a five minute mile. Meet Brad for the first time at the meet, but in talking to Dan on Wednesday, he stated Brad was very capable of holding his own. Fortunately, not knowing I was going to run a mile race a week later, I did a speed work for the first time in a long at the Dome, which made me think I would be able run around 5:00 to 5:10. However, to improve my chances, I stopped at TCRC on the way down to the meet and bought my first pair of spikes since the college days. I was just hoping to hold my own and one of the other guys going way under.

DtB: How did the race unfold?

DM: Dave summed it up well. After Bobby's lead it was just a matter of how much under the world best we would run.

DT: I was the lead off runner and got off the line a little slow being I wasn't ready for the gun, however made it up and more in the first lap, definitely went out to fast but was able to hold on to finish in 5:00.9. After finishing the first and being excited that we were on course for the record, I immediately starting running a warm down running clockwise around the track to cheer the guys on. Bobby ran the second leg and he looked smooth and relaxed in running around 5:06. Dan was third, looking strong and determined he ran just under 5:00. Brad had the anchor and I knew we were going to break the record then and thought we had a chance to break 20:00. Brad ran very well for a guy that hadn't run a race on the track for years in running around 5:07.

DtB: Was everybody aware of their splits?

DM: I was.

BG: I knew just where we stood when I received the baton for the last leg of this race.The announcer, The St. Olaf woman's coach, and the women runners, and the crowd were tremendous. It is always more difficult to run a time trial than a race and this would have felt more like a time trial. Thanks to the unselfish support of all of these people, it felt more like a great competition than just a time trial. My legs were kind of telling me, you are a swimmer now, not a runner, but I heard so many important voices cheering for me I just could not let up. For me, it has always been things like camaraderie with teammates or the kindness and love of other people and friends that can inspire me to go more deeply within in order to accomplish what is difficult and not ordinary.

BP: I didn't hear my splits and without someone to compete against it was hard to know how fast I was running, that being said, I ran pretty well.

DT: I didn't hear the splits, however being the lead off runner I was able to see splits on the clock which one can see as they are coming down the home stretch; St Olaf has a great facility there.

DtB: How close you were to the record?

DM: Not close at all. Dave put us ten seconds up, Bobby another five seconds. When Brad got the baton he had 27 seconds to spare.

DtB: What team had the old mark?

DM: O'Brian-Irland-Bodine-Stabler, Syracuse, NY on 12-12-1981.

DtB: What are the plans for the future? Any other Masters record attempts planned?

DM: Nothing planned. I wouldn't be surprised to see the best 50+ guys show us how it's really done.

BG: I have six children and one grandchild. I thought that this would be the last race of my life. However, with three superb teammates like mine, an inspiring captain, and an old pair of legs that seem to have one or two even faster gears left in them how can I be sure that this is my last race.

DT: Don't know, haven't planned yesterday yet. Actually training to run Boston for the first time in April. As for Masters record attempts, I'll rely on Dan take a look there.

DtB: Did the announcers at the meet tell everybody that this was a record attempt? Did the crowd get into it?

DM: Dick Daymont did a great job of getting the crowd into it! We got cheered by many, many people and by name.

BP: St Olaf rolled out the red carpet. The announcer was great, the fans cheered loudly, the atmosphere was electric.

DT: Dick did a terrific job in announcing the race. He announced to crowd that we were going after the record, and as the race unfolded he was able to calculate splits and announce just where we were in out attempt. He created the atmosphere any runner would appreciate in running an event like this. The crowd did get into it. Dick had a lot to do with it. As he announced before the race, "These are guys are old so you'll have to cheer loud" and they did. We got a lot of congratulatory comments after the race. I think we surprised a few people as to how fast some of us old farts can run.

DtB: Any other thoughts on the experience?

DM: It was a lot of fun. The crowd was great. The venue great. The Daymonts were so gratuitous and made us feel welcomed and special.

BP: I want to get more guys fired up and do it again next year with many old fart teams competing against each other to set records and to put Minnesota in the fore-front of masters running. Dan Morse is to be commended for all his hard work to make this happen! It is one thing to come up with a good idea, it is another to make it a reality!!

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