By Bob Burns
Lisa Balestrini of Roseville won a silver team medal in the women’s 45-49 cross country race on the opening day of the World Masters Athletics Championships in Sacramento.
On a Granite Regional Park course that was toughened up when the regular circuit was washed out by an unseasonably wet spring, Balestrini was the eighth individual across the finish line in Wednesday morning’s 8-kilomter race. Balestrini and U.S. teammates Rosalva Bonilla (fourth) and Sheryl Miller (seventh) claimed a silver medal in the team competition behind the winning threesome from Great Britain.
At the front of the W45 pack, South African legend Zola Budd Pieterse set a fast early pace but was overtaken in the closing stages by Spain’s Soledad Castro Solina, who clocked 28:52.1 over the 8-kilometer distance. Budd Pieterse, the two-time Olympian and world record setting at 5,000 meters, placed second in 29:19.9.
Balestrini finished eighth in 33:18.6. Jeanette Allred-Powless of Roseville finished 13th.
Kathyrn Martin claimed the first U.S. gold medal of the 19th WMA Championships by winning the W55-59 cross country race in 32:52.5. Nearly 5,000 athletes from 93 countries entered the WMA Championships, which began Wednesday and continue through July 17.
Three other Pacific Association runners had top-10 finishes in the cross country competition. Amy Phillips of El Dorado Hills finished just out of the individual medals in the W35-39 race, placing fourth in 34:14.5; Tatjana Trout of Los Gatos was sixth in the W40-44 race in 35:51.9; and Maria Briones of Oakland took sixth in the W55 race.
For more about the Day 1 Cross Country: WMA cross country story courtesy of Lynn Walker
While the distance runners were sweating out the first day of competition at Granite Regional Park, competition at the three track venues Sacramento State, Sacramento City College and American River College consisted of heptathlons and decathlons.
In the men’s 55-59 decathlon at Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium, David Kohls of Lafayette got off to a terrific start by clocking 12.83 seconds in the 100-meter dash, the opening event. After five events, Kohls is second with 3,460 points. Austria’s Georg Werthner, a fourth-place finisher in the 1980 Olympic decathlon, leads with 3,829 points.
George Patterson of Sacramento was fourth after the first day of the M50-54 decathlon. Patterson had 3,524 points through five events. Kenneth Thomas of Houston led with 3,771 points. Allen Eggman of San Francisco stood 10th after the first day with 3,094 points.
Lisa Magley of Sacramento is fourth after the first day of the W35-39 heptathlon with 2,116 points. Rachel Guest of Surprise, Ariz., led with 2,737 points.
In the men’s 40-44 decathlon at American River College, Wale’ Aka Bashorun of Mill Valley was fourth with 3,089 points.
Joseph Ols of Los Gatos was 10th after the first day of the M4-549 decathlon. Gary Wuest of Sacramento was sixth in the M65 decathlon after the first day.
Marie Kay of Australia, already the world record holder in the W45 heptathlon, is on pace to challenge the W50 record after Wednesday’s first four events. Kay scored 3,809 points in the first four events and is gunning for the W50 world mark of 6,028 points, set by Switzerland’s Christine Mueller in winning the 2009 WMA title in Lahti, Finland.
Thursday’s WMA schedule includes additional cross country and multi-event competitions. For complete results, see wma2011.com.