With Olympic fever in the air, the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex plans to stage an event of national prominence. No need to book a flight to London, the USA Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships are coming to Lisle.
"If people want to see the best, most fit adult athletes in the world competing and breaking records, then come to the meet," said Bob Weiner, national masters' media committee chairman for USA Track and Field.
Weiner said the event will spread the word that speed, strength and endurance are possible for all ages.
"Our events are adult track and field," said Weiner. "It is open to everyone."
Each year, athletes from across the country compete in the USA Masters over four days the first weekend in August. The meet in Lisle is Thursday to Sunday, Aug. 2 to 5.
A full range of track events include races from 100 meters to 10,000 meters. Field events include javelin and discus throw, long and high jump, hammer and weight throw, shot put, pole vault, triple jump and hurdles. Stamina is challenged in the steeplechase, pentathlon and racewalking events.
The Masters division features athletes over the age of 30 testing their skills in track and field events with their peers. Groupings are in 5-year increments, with the oldest group being 100 years and older. Yes, Weiner said, there was a 101-year-old competitor. There is a man registered for the USATF Masters in the age group 85-89 in 80-meter hurdles.
"I saw a man set the record in the 200-meter indoors and he was in his 90s," said Lorette Cherry, Illinois secretary of USATF. "I had tears in my eyes, the man was so amazing."
"In Masters, you look forward to your birthdays, because every five years is another age group to compete in," said Weiner. "When you are a year older, you then compete at the youngest age of the next five-year division, and that is an advantage."
The event is open to all who want a physical challenge. If you run a mile between 4.5 and 9 minutes you are within the range of contenders, according to Weiner.
"Any time is acceptable," Weiner said. "If you run as a jogger and you want to see how you can do in a competition, you are welcome to enter."
The USATF Illinois, based in Lisle, hosts this year's competition and leads the bid process that Cherry attended. The event, which Lisle will host for the first time, was the result of an extensive process that began in 2009. The results left national board members pleased with the Lisle Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex proposal.
"People love coming to this Chicago area because there is so much for them to do," Cherry said. "You will be surprised to see the quality that comes to our meet; it is so amazing to see that determination in our athletes."
The Benedictine facility has hosted national youth events on two previous occasions, as well as the 2006 NCAA Division II Women's Lacrosse Championship.
"The latest numbers we have from the Illinois group is that we should expect about 1,200 athletes," said Jay Allen, LCVB sales manager for the Lisle visitors bureau.
The successful bid reflects all the resources Lisle and the university have to offer events of this caliber. The extensive bid defined hotel accommodations, access to convenient transportation and a variety of food venues, in addition to all the equipment and field requirements.
The sports complex has a nine-lane Olympic quality track with a 3,000-seat stadium. Cherry said with more stadium seating, Lisle could host more events.
"We are bringing new people and outside money to the area," Allen SAID. "It is also a great showcase for Benedictine and Lisle to have this national event."
Allen said that LCVB will provide free shuttle service for the athletes to and from hotels and will add local information to the USATF Illinois welcome packets. It also will staff an information table to answer visitor's questions.
Athletes, trainers, officials, spectators and family members will come to the area. Although it is too early to know exact numbers and names, organizers said Lisle can expect to have some prior Olympians and world champions at the games.
"The events are very social, too," Weiner said. "Everyone is there for the competition and the camaraderie."
USA Track and Field has 57 associations that cover the United States with its national offices in Indianapolis. Go to USATF.org and USATFillinois.org for a complete rules book, meet history and score results from the past 10 years in all events.
To find out who else is registered in the Masters, so far, go to USATF.org and then click on events calendar, national championship, scroll down to find Aug. 2-5 and click on entry list. Each event has its list. Then, be an active participant in the Olympic spirit.