Story #23 in a series of 25. Written to celebrate the CIM’s 25th Anniversary on December 2, 2007. By Cynci Calvin.
Masters runners have played a key role in putting the CIM front and center as a top-ranked U.S. marathon. Below is a brief overview of masters’ running achievements and trends at the CIM.
CIM Masters Time Line
1983 – The Inaugural Running
Sister Marion Irvine at age 54 ran her astounding 2:51:02 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time. It continues to be the CIM’s course record for women 50 and older, and it is still the fastest U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time for a woman 50 and older. Cindy Dalrymple of Washington, DC won the masters women’s title in 2:47:13, and Jeff Wall won the men’s master’s division in 2:29:19. Mavis Lindgren was the oldest finisher (76) in 5:30:20.
1986 – Course Record by Over Six Minutes
A women’s masters course record of 2:41:09 (good for second place overall woman) was set at the CIM by Gabrielle Andersen, who was the inaugural CIM’s women’s winner in 1983. This time remains the third fastest women’s 40+ time at the CIM. Gabrielle is perhaps most remembered for her courageous 1984 Women’s Olympic Marathon finish where she staggered across the finish line nearly overcome by heat exhaustion.
1988 – U.S. National Masters Championships
Topnotch fields for both men and women assembled. Among the men, Bob Schlau of Charleston, SC was previewed as the favorite in the men’s 40-44 age division, and he did not disappoint with his 2:19:48 finish, a men’s masters course record at the time. Other age division champions included Michael Hefferman (45-49, 2:32:16), Darryl Beardall (50-54, 2:43:15), John Hepner (55-59, 2:56:41), John Keston (60-64, 1st in 2:54:36, Patrick Devine, 2nd in 2:57:37), and Jim Smith (65-69, 3:20:01).
For the women, favorite Laurie Binder faced some strong competition, but pulled out the win, beating Gail Scott 2:43:23 to 2:46:40. Other top finishers included: Joan Colman who went on to become a record setting masters track runner; Joan Ullyot, the author of several books on women’s running, a pioneer for women in the sport, and holder of the still standing CIM women’s 45-49 course record of 2:51:25 set in 1986; and Wenshi Yu, a prolific masters marathoner who continues to set and hold age division course records in marathons around the world. Marty Maricle won the women’s 55-59 division with a 3:30:32 time.
1989 – Helen & Barbara Appear
Two record setting age division phenoms made their California International Marathon debuts with both winning their age divisions: Barbara Miller (50) in 3:05:21 and Helen Klein (67) in 4:13:32.
1992 – Still Standing Course Record Set
Pierre Levisse of France made headlines with his stunning 2:15:35 finish, the fastest 40-44 men’s time run in the world that year and good for fourth male overall. This remains the time to beat for the men’s masters course record.
1995 – Women’s Course Record
Julie Coleby of England became the CIM’s new women’s master record holder with her fourth place overall finish time of 2:38:25. Kathy Ward surprised the field with a debut marathon time of 2:46:21 and qualified for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials.
1998 – Brad Hawthorne
The CIM was the Pacific Association/USATF Grand Prix Marathon Championship beginning in 1984, and the 1998 Pacific Association men’s 40-44 champion was Brad Hawthorne who qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials (2:19:48) and tied Bob Schlau’s second fastest ever CIM 40-44 men’s time with his 2:19:48 finish.
2002 – World Record!
Helen Klein set the women’s 80 and over World Best Marathon Time by 39 minutes with her exceptional finish time of 4:31:32. She set single-year age division records at the CIM in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Helen’s phenomenal running career began at age 55 and since then she has completed 87 marathons and 143 ultra-marathons.
2003 – The Russians are coming!
Firaya Sultanova sets the current CIM women’s masters course record with her 2:37:27 finish.
2007: The 80s Have It!
Helen Klein 85, Rancho Cordova Calif., does it again – this time setting a World Record marathon time for women 85 and older. Her 5:49:11 time blasted the previous world record of 6:53:50 set by Ida Mintz in 1990.
Sam Hirabyashi 80, Greenbrae, Calif., finished in a CIM age division course record time of 4:52:29. His time is more than two hours faster than the previous record set by George Billingsley in 2004 (7:06:35). His time places him 13th on the world marathon rankings list for men 80 to 84, according to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians.
2007 Masters Division Wins
Neil Holm of Courtenay, B.C. topped the men’s master field with a 2:32:22, good for 12th overall. Meghan Arbogast, 46, of Corvallis Oregon captured the women’s masters win in 2:45:46 and qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Over the years, the CIM, with its fast, point-to-point course has produced many more fast masters age division times. Along with Helen Klein and Barbara Miller, top CIM masters women deserving mention are Midori Sperandeo, Honor Fetherston, Joan Reiss, Eve Pell, Myra Rhodes, Sandra Kiddy and Hansi Rigney. Top CIM masters men to include are Alfredo Vigueras, Robert Nelson, Herb Phillips, Joe Bergasser, John Keston, Joe Hurtado, Paul Reese, George Billingsley and Sam Hirabayashi.