Sunday, April 2, 2006
Albuquerqueans Find Many Benefits to Being World-Class Athletes
By Rick Wright
Journal Staff Writer
Two Albuquerque Olympians have found that being a world-class track-and-field athlete isn't all about running or jumping.
It's also about seeing the world.
Trish Porter, a 1988 U.S. Olympian, recently returned from Austria, where she won a world masters age 40-44 title in the high jump. Porter also set an American age-group record with her winning leap of 5 feet, 5.25 inches.
Porter took advantage of the trip to ski Austrian slopes and to visit some of that country's most famous landmarks.
"I sat outside the Grand Hotel (in Zell am See, near Salzburg) and had a latte overlooking a lake with the Alps right in front of me," she said. "It was gorgeous, breathtaking."
Two-time Olympic (2000, 2004) distance runner Elva Dryer returned a month ago from a five-week stay in Kenya, where she trained under renowned German running coach Dieter Hogen in anticipation of her planned marathon debut this fall.
But Dryer said she gained far more than a few running tips while in Kenya.
"It was great, awesome," she said. "It was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life, running-related or just in general."
Dryer got the opportunity because her manager, Tom Ratcliffe, works with a number of Kenyan runners. She stayed near the village of Iten at a high-altitude camp (about 8,000 feet above sea level) established by Lornah Kiplagat, now a Dutch citizen but a native of Kenya, and her husband, Pieter Langerhorst. Kiplagat has done training in Albuquerque.
"There, the culture really is running," Dryer said. "At 6:30 a.m. as the sun comes up, there are hundreds of people out running.
"Just think if you went out to run on the Tramway bike path one morning and you saw 100 runners. ... Well, for them, that's a daily thing. It was very easy to be motivated because running is just what people do."
This being an off year in track and field the middle year between Olympics Dryer said she'll focus mostly on road races this spring and summer leading up to a fall marathon.
Porter won her masters title in Linz, Austria, beating Great Britain's Wendy Laing for the gold medal on fewer misses.
"I hadn't competed indoors in 17 years, and I'd never done it internationally," she said. "It was just a beautiful facility and a fun meet."
Porter's immediate competitive future includes the New Mexico Games and the U.S. masters outdoor Masters nationals this summer.
And beyond? Porter said she was leafing through a masters track-and-field magazine and took note of the women's age 80-84 world high jump record.
That, she said only half-jokingly, is her long-term goal.
"I'd love to keep going as long as I can stay healthy," she said. "I love doing this."
LA LUZ LOTTERY: Rodger Sack, La Luz Trail Run race director, reminds aspiring entrants that this year's field will be determined by lottery. The deadline is May 5 not a May 5 postmark, but one early enough to get to Sack by that date.
Would-be La Luz runners should send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Sack at 6900 Gisele Dr. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.
The drawing to determine the lucky (?) 400 qualifiers for the 9-mile, 4,578-foot altitude-gain ascent to Sandia Crest will be held the weekend of May 6-7 at a time and place to be determined. This year's race is scheduled for Aug. 6.
As of Friday, Sack had received 255 SASEs from New Mexico and 13 other states and one foreign country (Great Britain).
RESULTS: Santa Fe native and former Lobo Matt Gonzales continued his impressive debut season on the U.S. road-racing circuit, finishing second at the Gate River Run 15K in 44:09. United States Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflizighi won in 43:43.
Dryer, in her first major race after a long injury-related layoff and less than a week after her return from Kenya, finished sixth in the Gate River Run women's division in 51:21.