After high school, I attempted to be a hurdler for the University of Montana during the spring of 1984. I went to several practices as a 'walk on' and ran some time trials. However, my 30-inch inseam just wasn't long enough for the 42-inch barriers. I could hurdle over them, and even three step between them. Yet, I just didn't have enough speed to be competitive. One day at practice the college coach pulled me aside and said, "Paul, you've got a lot of heart, but not a lot of inseam. I think you're as good at collegiate high hurdles as you're going to get." It was at that time, in 1984, when I stepped away from track and field and began to explore my endurance limits.
Since 1984, I've accomplished various goals in long-distance running -- even being blessed to complete solo runs across the United States, Germany, Alaska, Montana, and the Mojave Desert. Along the way I coached high school kids in both track and cross country running, and was fortunate to be a torchbearer for the 2002 Olympic Games.
Now, 40 years since stepping away from the track... I'm going back.
I'm about to turn 59 years of age and in this year leading up to age 60 I want to work on getting flexibility back and digging deep inside to see if I can find some of the speed I once had. I haven't done speed work in 40 years! I'd like to see if I could run the 100 meter hurdles in the USATF masters (age 60-64 division). I recently watched a video of the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships for age 60-64 in the 100 meter hurdles and was intrigued. It brought back a lot of memories, and as I watched I wondered if I could get back into hurdling shape. So, I decided to take on a completely different challenge in running by going back to something I last did 40 years ago.
If you visit my Instagram account at www.instagram.com/Grandpa_Hurdler you'll see that over the years I've done a little 'backyard' hurdling now and then, just playing around with it to see if I could still hurdle over a collegiate 42-inch barrier. The last time I did it was in 2017 at the age of 52. What I would be training for is to be able to do a flight of 10 hurdles set at 33-inch height with a three-step stride in between each. If I could do that in 20 seconds or less, I would be considered competitive for the 60-64 age class within the USATF (USA Track and Field). As I write this, I honestly don't know if I can do it. I've dug out the hurdles I had stored in the back corner of my garage and am going to do some stretches and drills to see if I can remind my brain and body how to do this. Forty years is a long time to be away from something!
I'll provide some updates at this blog as this experiment unfolds. I can't believe that it has already been 40 years since I left competitive hurdling. I'm now the parent of 7 adult children and a high school teen, and am a grandfather of four. My wife is supportive of my giving the hurdling idea a shot and I'm sure is secretly praying I don't break a hip! I'll be posting some pictures and videos at my Instagram account (link above) if you'd like to follow that.
When I ran track in junior high and high school, I really enjoyed it. My running strides over the past 40 years have taken me to many places... even across states and countries. In a way, aiming to return to hurdling is going back to where my competitive running started in 1979 -- the hurdles. I guess you could say I've come full circle... or full 'oval'.
Paul J. Staso
- United States in 2006 (3,260 miles solo in 108 days at age 41)
- Montana in 2008 (620 miles solo in 20 days at age 43)
- Alaska in 2009 (500 miles solo in 18 days at age 44)
- Germany in 2010 (500 miles solo in 21 days at age 45)
- The Mojave Desert in 2011 (506 miles solo in 17 days at age 46)
- Various Photos From Mileposts Gone By
- Students Worldwide Who Ran With Me Virtually
- Roadside Sights From My Running Adventures
- Some Cycling Moments From The Past