Heitzman picks up new national record
Paul Heitzman has his share of records.
He's amassed age-group records in countless races in the Midwest and holds numerous single-age records in running events across the nation.
But few of them are like this one.
Heitzman, in his first year of competition in the 75-year-old age bracket, reeled off the nation's fastest indoor 3,000-meter run, mastering the distance in 12 minutes, 52 seconds. The Eudora resident blew away the previous 13-year-old record by nearly 18 seconds.
"It really means a lot," Heitzman said. "Getting an American record is really difficult to do. That means you've done something that no other American that has ever lived has been able to do, of your age."
Heitzman recorded the time at the 2006 USA Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, and Heitzman said he's hoping it's just the beginning of what could be a very successful summer.
The indoor meets typically take place early in the season on a track inside an arena. There's little difference, Heitzman said, though indoor times tend to be a little slower.
This year, he's hoping the experience will pay off. Slowed by injuries in each of the last two summer seasons, the 75-year-old said he'd like to add more national records to the one just recently recorded.
"For the last couple years I've had a lot of trouble with injuries and this is the first time I've gone to this meet in a couple of years," said Heitzman, who also holds the 65-69 year-old 3,000 record. "I feel really good. I've trained hard. This is the first time I've been able to train for more than a couple months in a row without getting injured or sick."
It's already been a successful start to the season. He's run two five-kilometer road races and his events at the indoor championships in Boston. He picked up state records in both Kansas and Oklahoma in the road races, and added the American record in Boston.
"It's a really successful start," he said. "It's pretty meaningful, especially to a person who was a spectator for the first 60 years of his life. I never thought I had any athletic ability at all, so it's pretty significant."