"I committed to the lead group early
and I guess it got the competitive juices flowing."
Steve Spence, after his Aug 9, 2003 5-Mile Road Race Masters' Record
1992 Olympic marathoner, and 1991 World Championships marathon Bronze Medalist Steve Spence bettered Bill Rodgers' Masters' 5-mile road race American Record at the 16th Annual Tom Ausherman 5-miler in Chambersburg, Saturday, August 9. Spence, the head coach of the T&F and Cross Country programs at nearby Shippensburg University, finished 6th in 23:47 on the certified loop course on a humid morning. The mark betters the 23:51 record run by Rodgers at the Indiana Governor's Cup on September 24, 1988. The time also breaks Rodgers' 24:06 age group record for 41-year-old men. Spence turned 40 in May of 2002. The only faster mark by an American Master is John Tuttle's 23:25, which has not yet been ratified as the AR. That race was run in 1999.
Spence told PennTrackXC that he has been doing some volume, but must have been more fit than he thought after doing a lot of local cross country summer races as his speed work. "I committed to the lead group early and I guess it got the competitive juices flowing." The race quickly developed into a lead pack of 12 guys, splitting the first mile in about 4:40. "About half of the group heard the mile time and must have thought it was too fast, so they backed off and I stayed back with them through about the halfway point. But the lead guys had only opened up about a 40 meter lead, so I made a move to chase people down. Peter Sherry (13:55.10 3rd place in the 5K at this year's Maine Distance Festival) was the only one who went with me. Sherry gapped me a little but I knew the turnover was still there when I came through 4 miles in 19:01." Spence did a little quick math, and knew he had a shot at the record.
"The best part of the race was doing a 25-minute cool down with my three daughters, Neely, Reynah, and Margeaux. They cheered for me the whole way. But yeah, the American Record is cool, too."
The race was won by Henry Kipchirchir of Kenya in 23:03, 18 seconds off the course record 22:45 set by countryman Joseph Kariuki. In addition to Spence, three other former Olympians competed in the race, including Morocco's Mo-hammed Ar-Ar, 2nd in 23:25, Romanian 1500 runner Olteanu Ovigu, 7th in 23:54, and 10K specialist Kate Fonshell (Penncrest HS, PA), 32nd in 27:57.
The race story, full results, plus photos in the Chambersburg Public Opinion.
The story of Steve Spence launching his Masters' career in a June, 2002 article by PennTrackXC.