Track Runner Profiles
The following are brief profiles of interviewees. The full interview as well as insights will be featured in the upcoming book.
Chris Scotto DiVetta is a 52 year old middle distance runner, who lives in Novi, Michigan, and who has managed a demanding career as the COO of a major financial services company. Chris participated in track and field in high school and college, eventually achieving division one All-American status. Early in his career in finance, Chris stopped running altogether, because he was tired of the sport, and was very busy with his work. He found that he could not spend the time to train at the level he needed to in order to improve.
Chris was at his 30th high school reunion, and an old schoolmate was riding Chris about how he had run faster than Chris, and that he could outrun him today. This piqued Chris’s competitive spirit, and Chris challenged him to a race at the 50th annual Bishop Laughlin Games in New York. Chris convinced the organizers to add an alumni 400 meter race to the card, and with little preparation, Chris won the event in 55 seconds. The fire was lit, and that was the beginning of Chris’s master’s running career.
Chris loves master’s track and field, and is inspired by the 70, 80, and 90 year old athletes, and what they can accomplish. Chris is currently pushing to prepare for this year’s national championships, and he will retire from competitive running until his youngest sons tell him to get out of their hair. I’m certainly routing for Chris in this last race, until his next comeback.
Jim Woolvin Broun is a 57 year old hurdler, who lives in Sarasota Florida, and who once toured the country with the Woolvin James band, opening for artists such as Hank Williams Junior, Johnny Paycheck, and Alabama. Besides being a musician, Jim played various sports for as long as he can remember, including football, baseball, water skiing, snow skiing, cycling, and track. Jim’s elementary school was very close to the high school, and Jim used to love to go watch the high school hurdlers when they practiced. The high school hurdlers adopted Jim as a sort of mascot, and he learned to hurdle when he was in elementary school. Jim hurdled throughout high school and college, until he got a recording contract, and went on the road with his band.
In 2003, Jim by chance saw that a friend of his from college had won the master’s world championship in the high jump. Jim stumbled across masterstrack.com and saw the vibrant community of master’s athletes, and decided to hurdle again. It was a long road back for Jim, as he was carrying close to 200 pounds on his 5’9” frame. Jim worked his way back, and in 2006 won the world indoor hurdle championships. Getting back into hurdling has changed Jim’s life, and he absolutely loves master’s track and field.
Gary Leigh is a 54 year old sprinter from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, who had several very successful years in high-school and college track and field. He was honored as MVP four years in a row, and looks back fondly on his 6th place finish in the New York State high school track championships, and his 6th place finish in the junior college national championships. After college, Gary played and enjoyed volleyball and tennis for many years. About twelve years ago Gary turned back to running track following a marital break-up. Rekindling his passion for racing helped Gary through this tough period, and turned this negative situation into something positive that he has carried forward into the wonderful life he enjoys today.
In 2007 Gary placed second in the 100 meter event at the Senior Olympics in Louisville, Kentucky. He is working his way back from a string of injuries in 2008, and has his sights set on winning another medal at either the National Master Track and Field championships or the 2011 Senior Olympics.
Gary is competitive by nature, and loves competing in master’s track and field. He loves the camaraderie, and likes the fact that every five years he gets rejuvenated when crossing into the next age group. He feels that he is still getting faster, and finding his potential. Gary shared with me how he manages to stay in the game despite injuries, and even find new gears as the years pass.
Jim Morton is a 54 year old 400 and 800 meter runner who lives in Springfield, Massachusetts. Jim has participated in sports since he was five or six years old, participating in track, triathlons, and boxing. In high school, Jim always wanted to be a 400 meter runner, but there were many runners faster than him at his school. When he was 49 Jim figured that maybe those guys were gone and that he could be a competitive 400 meter master’s runner. He found that there were still quite a few masters 400 meter runners ahead of him, but that he was one of the fastest 800 meter runners in the country. Jim is a lawyer by training and found his way to being President and CEO of the Greater Springfield YMCA, where he works to improve the lives of youth in the Springfield area. He has established an indoor track team for inner city youth that enables them to train and compete through the winter months, so that they can be competitive in the spring outdoor season. There have been several success stories to come out of this effort including Massachusetts State champions, New England champions, and qualifiers for the Junior Olympics.
In 2005 Jim donated two thirds of his liver to a lifelong friend. He worked long and hard over the past four years to get back in shape and is currently focused on winning the World Indoor and Outdoor 800 meter championships in 2010, and hopes to run the 400 meter as part of a relay team at the World Championships. After all, he just loves to run the 400 meter race.
Gary Grobman is a 56 year old runner from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania who played sand lot baseball in his youth, ran track in high school, and was back-up place kicker on his college football team. Gary, who is a college professor and author, re-discovered track and field when he was asked to give seminars to staff members of the USATF, which is the national governing body for track and field. He had to register for the conference in order to hold the seminars, and once a member, started getting the mailings and newsletters. From these, Gary found out about the Mid-Atlantic Track Championship meet, being held near where he lived. He got inspired to run the 5K, entered, and took second place. At that same meet he also had his first and last encounter with the 3000 meter steeplechase, where he thought he might drown. Gary has sworn off the steeplechase, unless lifeguards are on duty and he’s allowed to wear a floatation device..
In the late 1970’s and 1980’s, Gary had a successful road racing career, and despite having a scary episode with his heart at the 2005 Boston Marathon, he rediscovered his love for track and field. Gary is currently training for the National Senior Games in Palo Alto, California, where he hopes to win at least one gold medal.