YOU BETTER RUN – It was 2016, and Dave Glass was half full.
The Kentucky bourbon ale perhaps influenced his decision-making.
No, he didn’t wind up getting a bizarre tattoo in a bizarre place, all he did was join the Atlanta Track Club.
That may sound pretty mundane, except that the 76-year-old has lived in the same house on Ridge Road in Glenville since 1977, over 1,000 miles from Atlanta, Georgia. He’s not making many club meetings, at least not the administrative ones.
They do keep minutes at the meetings he does attend, though. The races. Glass has been an active member of the ATC masters team on a national level in recent years, and has helped make the team one of the best in the 70-and-over division in the country, based on results at designated USA Track & Field races around the country.
He did that by winning enough national championship races — six of 10 on the schedule — in 2022 to finish first on the season-long USATF Grand Prix individual points list for his age group.
A retired design engineer who didn’t start running competitively until 1984, Glass is poised to take a run at another Grand Prix national championship in 2023 after having won the 5k — in Atlanta — on Feb. 25. He’s got a busy three-race April ahead of him, starting with the USATF 10-mile masters national championship on Sunday in Sacramento, California.
“There’s added adrenaline when you’re running nationally,” Glass said on Monday. “You’re competing against guys who age-grade in the mid-80’s [percentile] and sometimes higher. They’re top-notch, really.”
The Atlanta Track Club is enormous, the second-biggest running organization in the country.
The ATC executive director’s name will ring a bell, since it’s former Olympian Rich Kenah, husband of Cheri Goddard-Kenah, the former Saratoga Springs cross country state champ and 11-time All-American at Villanova. Among the runners on the ATC’s elite team is Maegan Krifchin, who starred at Syracuse University and won the Stockade-athon in 2012.
Glass has been a major contributor to the club’s performance at the masters level.
He was invited by Pat Glover in 2016 to join the Capital Region chapter of USATF, the Adirondack Athletic Club, then in 2017 went one step further by becoming a member of the Atlanta Track Club, since the ATC was much more active on the national scene.
“I ran as an Adirondack team member until 2017, which was when the club nationals were in Louisville, Kentucky, and I was staying at the same hotel as the Atlanta Track Club,” Glass said.
“The hotel had a sports bar, which had Kentucky bourbon ale on tap. Before I knew it I was signing on the dotted line.They painted a pretty picture of the benefits of running for Atlanta.
“And at the time Adirondack was not fronting a team that raced nationally. Atlanta had quite an active M70 team. They’re a good club.”
No one was more active in the men’s 75-79 division last year.
Glass made it to all 10 designated national championship races, winning the half marathon, 10-miler, 10k, cross country 10k, 12k and cross country 5k.
He made up for one that got away in 2022, the 5k on the roads (Glass was third), by winning it last month to keep his 2023 Grand Prix pursuit rolling.
Glass won in 22:54 (7:23 mile pace), 41 seconds ahead of runner-up Keith Yeates of Fairport.
“The race went well for me,” Glass said. “The previous year, I had finished third behind two speedsters, neither of which were in the race this year.
“The course is slightly hilly, and ever since last August, when I ran the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls [Massachusetts], hills don’t exist on a race course for me. If you do the Bridge of Flowers, you can never be afraid of hills again. So this wasn’t much. I think the change of elevation was about 80 feet.”
Glass tried to pace off 74-year-old Rick Katz of Boulder, Colorado, and Katz served his purpose, finishing in 22:58 for eighth place in the male 70-74 division.
“I chose a pretty fast runner that I know who is in the 70-74 age group and tried to stay ahead of him,” Glass said. “He tried to pass me, I went ahead. He tried to pass me, I went ahead. We weren’t competing head-to-head, but he served as my rabbit. The guy was pretty fast, but that age group is pretty quick.
“I never know what I’m going to finish in. I just hope to run fast. I don’t know, Mike, I don’t have that ability to sense how fast I’m running.”
For daily training purposes, Glass has two six-mile routes and two eight-mile routes around his home in Glenville.
That, and the fact that it’s a hilly area, provides him with a routine that can prepare him for a variety of distances, which is essential if you’re hitting all 10 of these USATF national races.
“I don’t really tailor it [training, to a specific distance],” he said. “I run the roads here, usually eight miles. If I do too many eight-mile days, I’ll aggravate leg problems. Last week I had an Achilles’ tendon problem, but I think I’m above that.
“I did eight today [Monday] without problems. So I’m hoping that I didn’t overtrain. I usually run eight, or six when tapering off before any major competition.
“There’s hundreds of feet of elevation change, from my house to Glenville Hills Fire Department and down to Sacandaga [Road]. I vary it up. It depends on how I feel. Same roads, though.”
Glass also routinely runs into familiar faces at his races around the country.
Between the time commitment and travel expense, those with the wherewithal typically hit many of the same races at the various USATF masters national championship events.
An example came in December, as the Grand Prix season kicked off at the cross country club nationals in San Francisco.
The weather was so severe — high winds, torrential rain — that a tree fell across the course between two of the races. Course markers were washed away, and “a lot of runners went off course and either ran short or long, and the results were all messed up. I finished fourth, and I think I was lucky for that finish,” said Glass, who finished in 39:18 for 8k.
“It wasn’t called off, but the consensus after the race was that something was wrong about that, because, quoting several runners, ‘I couldn’t have run that slow’ or ‘I couldn’t have run that fast.’
“The fellow that finished first, by the name of Gary Ostwald from Denver, somehow surged across the finish line to finish ahead of a guy who I’d say never lost a cross country race. He [Ostwald] somehow miraculously came in first. I can’t prove it, I can only suspect that maybe that’s how he won, that’s how he got ahead of these guys. But no one protested or complained about it, so it stuck.”
Glass ran into Ostwald again at the second leg of the Grand Prix, a cross country race in Richmond, Virginia.
That race consisted of four 2k laps, during which Glass’ fiancee kept track of his placement, holding up one finger to indicate he was in first for each of the first three laps.
“For the fourth lap I figured, ‘Well, I’ve got this race,’ ” Glass said. “Well, little did I know, Gary Ostwald, at about three-quarters of the last lap, surged past me and beat me by six seconds. Tremendous finish. To this day I don’t know how he did it, but what strength, what power. I was trying to keep up, but I could not.”
That’s OK, there are seven more Grand Prix races on the calendar, and Glass, who ran a 38:10.1 at Richmond, is ready for the next one, in Sacramento on Sunday.
He’ll be the guy from Glenville wearing the red Atlanta Track Club singlet, easily identifiable on the national scene these days.
“Very often, a craft beer company will appear after the race and offer free beer, which, you know, for runners, is like being in heaven,” he said. “So we get around and talk and josh. I know my competitors well.”
It’s that time of year again, when I search the Boston Marathon entry list by Capital Region zip codes to see who’s running on April 17, and I plan to have some update/preview stuff in this space sometime in the next two weeks.
In the meantime, I performed one search by last name, after this lifetime Boston Bruins fan saw a cool story earlier this month about Zdeno Chara planning to run Boston in support of two charities.
How cool is this: they gave him bib number 3333.
“I’m so happy to announce that I am running my very first marathon, and what better first marathon than the Boston Marathon on April 17th!” the future Hall of Famer said in an Instagram post on March 19.
My only question is, although he was known as an absolute fitness freak during 24 NHL seasons (during which he and the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup), how will Chara’s 6-foot-9 frame hold up biomechanically over the course of a full marathon?
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