- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sometimes complaining loudly actually works. That’s the case with next year’s USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The venue for the July 9-12 competition was supposed to be Clermont, Fla. The obvious question is who would schedule a major meet in Florida in July?

And this came after a barrage of complaints from athletes and spectators after the prestigious meet for athletes 30 years of age and older was held in Orlando, Fla., in August 1999. Entrant numbers were down significantly, with weather being the top culprit. Then there was Baton Rouge, La., in August 2001, when oppressive humidity drew even more complaints.

It was even hotter in 2006, drawing near 100-degree temperatures in Charlotte, N.C. The weather sent not only some athletes to the hospital, but some volunteers, too. The heat forced state officials to ban organized sports during much of the afternoon for two days.

So why was the 2009 event set for sweltering Florida? Clermont was the only bidder.

As soon as the venue was announced, vocal opposition came faster than the 100-meter dash. But it was the fact that athletes were not signing up for the meet that sent USA Track & Field Masters chair Gary Snyder into action. Snyder announced last week that the meet would move to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

The feedback has been fantastic. Oshkosh, which recently played host to the NCAA Division III track and field championships, has a marvelous facility, complete with a nine-lane mondo Super X track with Olympic-style, 48-inch lanes and wide turns surrounding a synthetic turf infield.

The new challenge for meet officials is organizing this 1,000-athlete event in just eight months.

A questionable result - On Ken Stone’s blog on Masterstrack.com four days after last weekend’s New York City Marathon, he wrote that a source exposed 60-year-old Ermes Luppi of Italy as a cheater when he showed up atop his age group with a 2:39:53. Stone even posted a picture of Luppi in the running store he owns in Modena.

That time is unreal for a guy his age - nearly a world record - especially in light of his 5:24 in his only marathon last year. Soon after, Luppi’s result was scratched from the results.

Rosa Marchi, an Italian running and track reporter, posted on Stone’s blog that “I wrote him today and Ermes confirmed that he didn’t run in NYC Marathon.”

Apparently he gave his number to somebody else. This happens often with chip races, most times between husband and wife.

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