|Andrew Darien and three teammates set a world record at Boston University’s Terrier Invitational last month.|
Brandeis alums track down world mark in distance medley relay
Four years ago, Brian Moore and three of his former teammates from the track & field squad at Brandeis University were pleasantly surprised at their performances at an alumni meet.
“A bunch of us guys [around] 40 jumped in and did pretty well,’’ said the 42-year-old Moore, a Newburyport resident. They joked that they should form their own masters age-group running club, deciding that “we’ll never get a poker night because our wives will never let us do it,’’ he added.
“That turned into an every Tuesday night workout, and within a year we realized we were still pretty decent. In the last three or four years, every one of us has placed in the top 10 nationally in the 40-plus division.’’
Representing the Eliot Track Club - named after the Eliot Lounge, the infamous post-Boston Marathon bar - they registered a breakthrough performance last month, setting both an American and a world record in the indoor distance-medley relay.
Competing at Boston University’s Terrier Invitational meet, the foursome clocked a time of 10 minutes 55.1 seconds, beating the previous record of 11 minutes 2 seconds.
Andover’s Jayme Fischman, 40, ran the first leg, the 1,200 meters; Doug Williams, 42, of Marblehead, took the baton for the next 400 meters. Andrew Darien, a 41-year-old resident of Cambridge and a history professor at Salem State University, churned out the next 800 meters before handing off to Arlington’s Chris Simpson, 43, for the 1,600-meter portion of the race.
The squad nearly set the world record last year, with Boston resident Mark Gomes, 41, running the 1,600-meter leg and Sullivan on the 1,200, but was disqualified after a race official miscounted a lap. The club’s 4x800 relay team had barely missed the age-group world record the previous week at the Reggie Lewis Center.
Moore, who shares running the 400 with Williams, said he was bummed that he was out of town during last month’s meet, but happy for Williams, a fellow 1992 Brandeis grad. Simpson and Wakefield’s Andrew Junas, 43, are the other two Brandeis alums on the Eliot team.
Williams “and I have been training partners going all the way back to when we were 18 years old, so I was happy for him,’’ said Moore, who used to coach the Greater Boston Track Club. “He’s also been running better than I have this year.’’
Aside from trying to stay healthy, the runners said that the more difficult challenge is juggling work and family.
“The hardest part is being dedicated to a hobby and other people on the team when we all know that running is a distant third on the priority list to family and work,’’ Williams said.
Darien, who joined the team three years ago, said the key to success is working out as a group each week.
“We all make some sacrifice, and we all have awesome wives that give us reprieve on weekends and Tuesday nights to run races and work out,’’ said Darien, adding that he wakes up at 5:30 every morning to get a run in and make it to work by 8.
Darien made the track team at the University of Michigan as a walk-on in the late 1980s, regularly outpacing the scholarship athletes by the time he graduated. He hung up his spikes after graduation, not returning until 16 years later when his son’s preschool teacher, Simpson, told him about the Eliot Track Club.
Simpson told him, “We’re going to try to get together and run,’’ recalled Darien, who was a Big Ten Conference finalist and an All-Academic conference selection as an undergraduate.
“It’s an excuse to get together at Harvard on Tuesday nights, and you won’t have to read bedtime stories or put your kids to bed and we’ll have beers afterward. I started doing it and realized we’re pretty good.’’
The team, which will compete at BU’s Valentine Invitational on Saturday, followed by the New England championships on Feb. 19, has its sights set on the 4x800 masters record of 8:07.48, just below its best time (8:08).
“To place well at nationals every year and every few years at the world championships is our primary goal, as well as at the US championships,’’ Moore said, “and we have the opportunity to win races as a team or break relay records.’’
Justin A. Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.