Ballou and Brown shine at USA Track and Field Masters Indoor Championships

CONWAY — A pair of local runners — Terry Ballou of Center Conway and Darin Brown of East Madison — both put their best foot forward when they competed in

CONWAY — A pair of local runners — Terry Ballou of Center Conway and Darin Brown of East Madison — both put their best foot forward when they competed in the USA Track and Field Masters Indoor Championships at the Prince George Sports Complex in Landover, Md., March 16-19.

Ballou, 50, who runs for an all-women team called the Athena Track Club, finished second in the 800 meters; third in the 400-meter run; and helped her 4X400 relay team to the gold medal in the 50-54 age group.

Competing on March 16, against a field of eight other runners, Ballou placed third in the 400 meters in 1:06.23. The race was won by former University of Tennessee All-American and Olympic Trials qualifier Alisa Harvey, 52, of Manassas, Va., in 1:02.35. Roxanne Brockner, 52, of the Northport, N.Y., was second in 1:05.90.

“I really wanted to break 66 seconds,” Ballou said. “The track there is not banked, and it’s not really a great surface for fast times.”

On March 18, Ballou finished second in the 800 meters, running 2:30.65. Harvey won the race in 2:21.73.

“I was pleased to run 2:30 in the half (mile), given the track,” Ballou said, adding “Alisa is amazing. She made four Olympic Trials. I’m just proud to be in the same race as her. There’s a lot of camaraderie and mutual respect in master’s running. It’s a fairly small community. In fact, in two races, there was just one woman who I hadn’t raced before.”

Also on March 18, Ballou and her Athena Track Club teammates cruised to victory in the 4X400-meter relay, topping three other teams in 4:54.45. They won by 38 seconds.

Brown, 51, who runs for the Mass Velocity Track Club, was fifth in the 3,000 meters; ninth in the 1,500 meters; and his 4X800 relay team placed fourth in the 50-54 age group.

Competing on March 16, against a field of 12 other runners from across the country, Brown ran a time of 10:25.73 to finish fifth in the 3,000 meters. Charles Novak, 50, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, won the race in 9:49.59.

On March 17, Brown was ninth in the 1,500 meters in 4:48.10 in a talented field of 22 runners. Novak again took the top spot, running 4:19.24.

Later that day, Brown and his Mass Velocity teammates teamed to finish fourth in the 4X800-meter relay in 11:01.76. The race was won by the TNT International Racing Club A team in 10:29.52. There were nine teams in the race.

Given winter in the Granite State, training is often a difficult task for runners such as Ballou and Brown.

Ballou actually found a track in Turks and Caicos last month while on a family vacation.

“Believe it or not I found a track and was actually able to get in two good workouts,” she said. “I was also able to get over to Plymouth State five times (and run on the indoor oval). What really helped was Kevin McDonald (head indoor and outdoor track coach) at Fryeburg Academy let me use the indoor track.”

The oldest competitors at this year’s championships were a 102-year-old female and a 100-year-old male, who competed in the 60-meter dashes. Julia Hawkins, 102, was the lone female in the 100-104 age group. She covered in 60 meters in 24.79. Orville Rogers was the only male in the 100-104 age group, finishing in 19.13.

“They’re the highlight of the meet,” Ballou said. “Everyone is on their feet cheering, it’s pretty amazing.”

While Ballou is still looking to turn in fast times, she isn’t just running against the clock.

“I like to beat people,” she said, smiling. “I think ever since I was 8 years old, if I’m in a race, I want to win it.”

Ballou may run at the Penn Relays April 26-28 and then plans to compete in a number of road races this summer and fall.

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