SANTEE, CALIFORNIA - When the going got tough in the quadrenially-staged USA Olympic Trials 50-Kilometer Racewalk, the five Shore AC entries truly got tough and got going.
The five entrants made Shore AC the best-represented club in the nation in this grueling
31.1-mile test of willpower and determination, efficiency and expert technique, staged over
a loop course on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 in this Southern California community.
All five finished the race - directed by the celebrated Mr. Tracy Sundlun - wIth honor and distinction. The performances of all five, 3000 miles away from the club's East Coast base, brought immense pride to all their Shore AC teammates, who are well aware of the club's historic role of racewalking leadership over the past five and a half decades.
Anthony J. "A.J." Gruttadauro, a recent graduate of West Virginia Tech, was first Shore ACwalker over the line, placing fourth in four hours, 42 minutes and 31 seconds.
Immediately behind A.J. with a 4:47.00 clocking in the concurrently staged Women's USATF National
Championship, was Shore AC teammate Erin Taylor-Taylor, second placer in the women's event.
For the past half-decade, and more, Erin has been a ceaseless advocate for the staging of the 50K as a
standard event for women - as well as men - in global and hemisphere championship meets. Her stirring efforts - surely helped along by attorney Paul DeMeester, led to the women's 50K being included in the World Championships of London (2017) and Doha (2019) but - most disppointingly - no success yet in getting the 50K onto the Tokyo/Sapporo program for August 2020.
Placing sixth of the men in a gallant 5:02:01 was USAF Airman Michael Mannozzi of Shore AC. Hugely busy in his meteorolgical studies, the new airman has had little time to train properly. He nevertheless "hung in there" for a top-six finish.
One place behind in seventh was Shore AC veteran Dave Talcott, whose 5:06:51 performance also won the Masters 55-59 divisional title.
"Anchoring" the Shore AC delegation, with a 6:26:48 finish, was club veteran star Barry Blake, who set a personal 30K record en route. Now a retired engineer, Blake has found more training time, resulting in improving performances and technique at all distances from one mile up.
Over-all winners were Andreas Gustafsson (4:12:11) for the men and Robyn Stevens (4:37:31) for the women.
All these 50K people ask the rest of the track and field world to remember this: their event is nearly five miles further than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. They are the grittiest of the gritty, the
toughest-minded of all in their sport.
--- By ELLIOTT DENMAN,