TRACK & FIELD: Sierra Gold Masters Track and Field Festival to feature Heroes Relay, elite athletes, monetary prizes | TheUnion.com

TRACK & FIELD: Sierra Gold Masters Track and Field Festival to feature Heroes Relay, elite athletes, monetary prizes

Some of the best Masters athletes in the world will make their way to Hooper Stadium Saturday, looking to run, throw and hurdle their way to glory at the second annual Sierra Gold Masters Track and Field Festival.

"It's more than just a track meet, it's truly an event," meet director Clyde Lehman said. "We want it to be celebratory. We want it to be a real festival."

Only in it's second year, the Sierra Gold Masters Track and Field Festival is already grabbing national attention. Last year's festival was such a success, it garnered sponsorship for this year's event from the National Masters News and MastersRankings.com.

Lehman said he expects a big turnout with athletes traveling from all over the United States to compete.

"Right now we have people registered from New York to Hawaii and many, many states in between."

Masters track and field super stars such as Nolan Shaheed, Monica Kendall and Myrle Mensey are all expected to be competing at the festival.

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Shaheed is a premier Masters distance runner who holds American records in 13 individual, and two relay events, in age groups ranging from Men 50-and-over to M65. He also currently holds six world records in the 800, 1,500, and mile run.

Kendall holds six American records in javelin and shot put in every age group from Women 45-and-over to W60. Kendall was ranked No. 1 in the world last year in shot put and No. 2 in javelin. She was also ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for discus in 2016.

Mensey currently holds 14 American records in the W60 and W65 age groups for hammer, weight and superweight throws as well as throws pentathlon and ultra weight pentathlon. She is the current world record holder for the W65 throws pentathlon and indoor weight throw. For 2016, she was ranked No. 1 in the world for weight throw, super weight throw, throws pentathlon and ultra weight pentathlon. In 2013, she was named the USA Track and Field Masters Overall Female Athlete of the Year as well as the 2013 USA Track and Field Masters Thrower of the Year. In 2014, she was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

In addition to a high level of competition, another major draw for the festival is the monetary prizes that will be doled out to any Masters athlete who sets a national or world record at the event.

"If you set a world record, we'll give you a check for $1,000," said Lehman. "If you set an American record, we'll give you a check for $500."

The festival will feature athletes between the ages of 30 and 90 competing in track and field events in throwing, jumping, sprints, hurdles, distance running and pole vaulting. The festival events get started with the javelin at 11:30 a.m.

Opening ceremonies for the festival are set for 6 p.m. with events to follow throughout the evening.

The Opening Ceremony will feature Taiko drumming performed by Taiko Confusion, Grass Valley mayor Howard Levine will give a welcoming speech and local Masters athlete John Darlington will sing the National Anthem.

The Heroes' Relay is new this year and will also be a part of the Opening Ceremony. The relay is a 4×100 meter relay that will kick off the Sierra Gold Masters Track and Field Festival featuring teams from various organizations and professions such as police, sheriff, highway patrol, search and rescue, firefighters and teachers.

"Hopefully it will develop into something that has bragging rights and something the community looks forward to," said Bob Arnds, a Sierra Gold team member who is organizing the relay.

First, second and third place teams will receive world class medals. The overall winning team will also take home the perpetual championship plaque engraved with the relay team's names.

"Even if Masters track doesn't ring a bell or connect with you, come out and support our heroes, the people that are true heroes that save our lives and property all the time," said Lehman.

The festival will run for most of the day, with the first event scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and the final event set to go at 9:20 p.m.

"I think it shows possibility," Lehman said of the festival. "It doesn't matter your age, this will show you the possibilities. We can't use age as an excuse. People will say 'I'm too old, I can't throw, I can't run.' The (Masters athletes) show that it's just not true."

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com. Drue Mathies contributed to this article.

Know & Go

What: Sierra Gold Masters Track and Field Festival

When: Events start 11:30 a.m., Opening Ceremony 6 p.m., Saturday

Where: Hooper Stadium, Nevada Union High School

Cost: $5

For more info: http://sgmtff.org/

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