Octogenarian Runners 2023

No Limits For These Octogenarians

A sprint finish in a 100-mile race – between two 80-year-olds!

We sometimes like to end the week with an unusual story from around the world but the finish to the recent USATF 100-Mile Road Championships in Las Vegas has just about blown our socks off!

Part of the Aravaipa Running Jackpot Ultrarunning Festival, the races in Cornerstone Park, Hendersonville, Las Vegas include the official USA Track and Field (USATF) 100-Mile Ultra Road Championships on a USATF-certified 85-lap course that is virtually flat around a lake – designed to give competitors the best chance to set records and achieve personal bests.

There is a 40 hours cut-off for the 'Short Course' used for the 100-mile title race. Meanwhile, there is also a 'Long Course' used the following day in a different part of the park for a more conventional ultra programme with options to race for 6 hours; 12 hours; 24 hours; 48 hours; 50 miles, or 100 miles in distance.

It was the USATF 100-Mile Road Championships on Friday/Saturday 3-4 March 2023 that caught the eye of runABC reporter Alan Newman. The 2023 USA champions are Jonah Backstrom (San Fransisco, 14:11:03) on his third Jackpot Ultrarunning race in Las Vegas – the only 100-miler he has ever run – and local star Sierra DeGroff (Las Vegas, 15:59:56) who finished fifth overall in her fastest 100-miler to date.

But it was further down the field the Las Vegas fireworks were happening – in the Masters over-80 category! Conventional thinking is that even multiple marathon athletes tend to scale back to half marathons, or even shorter races, once they pass their 70th birthday but that does not seem to apply to octogenarians David Blaylock (Draper, 80) and Edward Rousseau (Park Rapids, 83) who staged an intense battle for almost 30 hours in the Nevada desert city.

The more experienced Rousseau had gambled on a faster start but the younger Blaylock paced his race to perfection, taking the lead in the final five miles to finish 27th from 44 competitors in 29:47:29 to his opponent's 30:09:08. You can share in Blaylock's delight as he crosses the finish line, finger aloft to salute his victory, and almost immediately recovers from his efforts in this short video from Aravaipa Running's Twitter feed....

Incredibly, there were three more M80 category runners competing. Two 80-year-olds Ian Maddieson (Albuquerque, 37:15:39) and Denis Trefecanty (Santa Ysabel, 37:59:42) were comfortably inside the cut-off but Todd Leigh (Reno, 81) was pulled out with just seven miles to run as his 93-mile split of 36:29:08 would have taken him beyond the time limit.

The oldest female finisher was Louise Mason (69) from Chicago who completed the 100 miles in 30th position in 32:11:32. There were 33 finishers of the USATF 100-Mile Road Championships in 37:59:42.

Full results at Jackpot Ultras here.

Photo and video courtesy Aravaipa Running on Twitter

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