A big THANK YOU to Candy Puterbaugh for taking the time to research and write this article.
Some of you may have seen the article in the National Masters News written by Candy Puterbaugh about the origins of our club. Some might remember first hand (most of us do not) that our club was started in the 1960’s by Manley and Helen Bakkensen and Betty and Porter Martin, the Portland Track Club. It was formed to give former college athletes a format were they could continue to compete. For those who have not seen the article, below are some excerpts …always good to look at ones roots!
Portland Track Club meetings were held at Porter’s real estate school in southwest Portland. John had copies of the minutes from 1969 to 1976--informal typewritten newsletters mailed to members, which included schedules, rosters, results and records. A 1970 roster listed 38 male members. By 1972, women were added. Porter chaired the club until 1973, then passed the baton to Manley. Porter continued as vice-chairman for the girls’ and women’s program. John always held a position on the Board, from treasurer to vice-chairman for men’s track and field. Meets were held at various tracks, and sometimes at colleges. John remembers contacting colleges and organizing meets against college teams.
The club’s evolution was evidenced in the minutes. Through the years, age groups became more differentiated. In 1973, “Seniors Information” (for ages 30-39) became part of the newsletter, noting: “This year we will try to keep up-to-date information on all Senior performances, including cross-country”.
In 1974 a letter went out to all seniors from Lynn Eves, PTC Senior Coordinator: “The Portland Track Club wants to give you an opportunity to run in competition with people your own age. Senior competition begins at age 30.”
Masters competition was for ages 40 and over. By 1975 divisions were:
I - 40-49
II - 50-59
III - 60-69
IV - 70+
The entry of the term “Sub-Masters” is another story. A 1973 newsletter noted: “Jim Puckett is trying to get the AAU to change their Masters’ age from 40 to 30. We should hear from the AAU soon. If they agree to change, this would mean more meets for the 30-39 group.”
Jim Puckett was one of the earliest members of the Portland Track Club, joining in about 1966. He was head coach at Mt. Hood Community College then, continuing there for 30 years. He was director of some AAU national masters championship meets, of the World Masters Track and Field Championships in Eugene in 1989, and was selected to coach an AAU championship team that toured Europe in the summer of 1969.
A plane ride in 1973 changed the course of masters track and field. “Lynn Eves, an ex-(Oregon State University) Beaver and Canadian runner, called me and talked me into entering a masters meet in California,” Jim said. “In Oregon we had to run against college kids. In California we could run against people our own age.” The masters division then was 40 and over, and Lynn and Jim were 28. Jim joked that he’d have 12 more years to wait to get fat! On the return plane trip, the two talked about starting their own masters program, lowering the age to 30, and calling it “Sub-Masters”. That division still exists today, Jim said. “Next was changing the 10-year age brackets,” he said. “There was a big difference between, say, a 30-year-old and a 39-year-old. We got it changed to five-year age brackets. Then we’d go to meets and hear guys saying they couldn’t wait until the next year to be 35, or whatever! Now every age group is a total track meet, like eight track meets in one. And there are many women.”
A 1975 PTC newsletter reflected the changes in the club and its age divisions.
The club’s first official-looking letterhead showed in large letters:
Portland Track Club Age Group & Women - Open - Sub Masters - Masters