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Four U.S. Records Smashed at USATF Masters 5K Road Championships


SYRACUSE, NEW YORK -- It was raining records at the USATF Masters 5K Road Championships at the Syracuse Festival of Races last weekend, as four new U.S. records and two world bests were registered. Kevin Castille led the masters men around the course in 14:46 and Janet McDevitt took the women’s crown in 17:41. Championships were contested up through M85-89.


Standing out from a host of excellent performances were record-breaking efforts by Tom Bernhard, 65, Libby James, 80, Kathryn Martin, 65, and Brian Pilcher, 60. The most dramatic performance was by the newest octogenarian record holder. James beat the U.S. record for W80-84 by over 4 minutes, lowering it to 25:11. She obliterated a record that had stood for 27 years, adding this to her W75-79 record. It also establishes a new world’s best mark by over three minutes.


Martin knocked a half minute off of the existing record for her age group, lowering it to 19:57. Race Director, David Oja exclaimed, “For the first time in the history of the world, a woman 65 years or older has run a 5K road race in under 20 minutes!” As with James, Martin’s U.S. record also tops the list of world’s best times. Martin now holds the U.S. 5K record for both W60-64 and W65-69.


Martin noted “I am pretty happy with the record but truly I could have and really should have done better. There is always room for improvement. I’ll be back next year. Kudos go to the Race Director, David Oja and his wife, Linda, for this outstanding event. None of this would happen without them and all they do for the runners.”


Bernhard lowered the M65-69 record by 41 seconds as he ran 17:31, taking down a record that had stood for 11 years. The only runner in the world to ever run a faster time is the renowned Canadian long distance runner, Ed Whitlock. Pilcher took 20 seconds off of the M60-64 record of 16:58. Only two men in the world have run faster times at that age. He adds this to his 55-59 5K record.


"It's hard running fast coming off of logging the miles for Chicago Marathon prep, but I figured it would be a good shake-out run anyway. It's great to have the 5K record already. Next up is the Chicago Marathon--and then all the distances in between-if I can."


Bernhard, like Martin, reminds us that with champions, no matter how well they do, there is always the feeling that they could have run just a little bit faster. “Any time you break an American record, it’s very special and I’m happy to have broken the record in my favorite event in spite of having run the most poorly paced race of my life. I really feel I can do better and look forward to trying to improve my time next year. It’s things like this that keep us motivated.”


And James puts it all in perspective: “Of course it is exciting to be a record holder, but more than that, I am thankful to be part of a sport where there are so many amazing and wonderful people willing to participate and support running with their enthusiasm and hard work. The Festival of Races in Syracuse is the ultimate evidence of that. All summer, I’ve been trying to get below a 25-minute 5k. I have not done it. And it doesn’t matter. I’m just grateful that I am part of the running community.”


From here, Martin goes on to the World Masters Athletic Championships in Perth, Australia where she will compete on the track in the 800m, 1500m and 10,000m. One week after nailing the 5K record, Pilcher will be running the Chicago Marathon, aiming to bring down the M60-64 record of 2:42:44 set by Clive Davies in 1979.


Contributed by Paul Carlin, USATF Masters LDR Media Chair



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