Several local runners are competing at the World Masters Championships this weekend in California. More than 4,800 athletes from 93 countries have entered the 19th World Masters Athletics (WMA) Outdoor Stadia Championships in Sacramento.
The field features athletes ranging in age from 35 to 101 years old. In addition to showcasing some of the most accomplished athletes in the history of masters and field, the list of entrants includes such names as Zola Budd Pieterse, the one-time barefooted prodigy of women’s distance running; Willie Banks, the former world record holder in the men’s triple jump; and Willie Gault, a 1980 Olympian and member of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl championship team who holds the world record for the men’s 50-54 age group in the 100-meter dash.
This marks the first time in 16 years that the WMA Outdoor Championships have been held in the United States. The Sacramento Sports Commission has been preparing for next month’s competition for nearly four years. Sacramento was awarded the event at the 2007 WMA Championships in Riccione, Italy.
The 1,915 U.S. entries represent the largest American delegation in the history of the event.
In nine days of competition – July 10 and 14 are rest days – 937 age-group events will be held at six separate venues. The local organizing committee implemented a “split day schedule” to minimize the potential impact of high afternoon temperatures. Each morning session will begin at approximately 9 a.m. and continue to 2 p.m. The evening schedule is 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
More than 80 percent of the 2011 WMA events will be held at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus. Hornet Stadium served as the site for the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials as well as four NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium and American River College’s Beaver Stadium will serve the secondary venues for the 2011 WMA Championships. Hughes Stadium has hosted three U.S. championships, and Beaver Stadium hosted numerous Golden West Invitational high school meets.
Granite Regional Park is the site of the cross country races on July 6 and July 7. The marathon will be held July 17 on the American River Parkway. The road race walking events will be held in Land Park on July 12 and July 16.