Grumpy Old Men Running Around in ShortsPublished December 10, 2001 in The Post-Standard.
By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
On Sunday December 16, the Syracuse Chargers Track Club hosts the first of four indoor all-comers track meets at Manley Field House on the Syracuse University campus. The running competition starts at 8:30am with the 1,500 meters, followed by 55-meter hurdles and dashes, and ending with the 800 meters. Field competition starts at 7:30am with the weight throw, followed by the shot put, the pole vault and the long jump.
I ran in my first all-comers meet a decade ago. My mentor dragged me to Manley kicking and screaming. I imagined the all-comers meet as an early morning gathering of grumpy old men running in shorts. I was not disappointed. I watched some spirited competition, set two personal records, and even got beaten by a couple of grumpy old women running in sports bras.
All-comers meets get their name from their open status, welcoming all athletes who come to the meet. Commonly organized by a local track club, competition is open to both club members and guests alike. In northern cities lacking indoor facilities, all-comers meets attract a broad crowd ranging from high school to masters athletes, including college and elite competitors, not to mention their respective children and grandchildren.
A typical Chargers all-comers meet attracts athletes from throughout Central New York, all the way to Western Ontario and Ottawa. Despite the casual atmosphere which allows registration at the door, no entry fees and no awards, officials observe the strict rules of competition, and submit outstanding performances for national record purposes.
Since I joining the cohorts of grumpy old men running around in shorts, I developed a true appreciation for speed, or the lack thereof. With competitors ranging in age from 2 to 82, I can always find someone to beat even in my pitiful physical state. Competitors doubling as spectators even cheer me on, content in the knowledge that end-of-pack runners like me promote them into middle-of-the-pack runners.
If you enjoy road races in the summer, but miss out on the pleasures of winter racing, come try an indoor all-comers meet. You are guaranteed a PR, especially if you have never run an indoor 1,500 or 800. Besides, there is no ice or snow on the track, the turns are gradual, and the air is dry. You will also meet a couple hundred athletes with similar aches and pains, compare notes on injury and orthotics, and find new training partners for those long winter runs.
If you cannot make it to Manley next Sunday, mark your calendar for the remaining meets of the season on January 5, February 9 and March 16. The January meet features a 3,000-meter run, while February features the mile and the Pentathlon.
Kamal Jabbour's pentathlon has lately included the cinnamon bun toss and the cappuccino down. He runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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