McConnell, M55, competed in his first-ever National Senior Games, running six races in four days. McConnell, who is currently 54, competed in the Men’s 55-59 age group, due to his turning 55 before year end. He placed third in the M55 age group in the 100m dash with a time of 12.95. His time of 26.21 was good enough to earn him a silver medal in the 200m dash and he ran the third leg of the gold medal winning 4x100m relay. The weather conditions in Houston were not conducive to fast times. It was hot and humid for all the races, with extremely strong wind gusts into the faces of the sprinters. “I posted my results on my Facebook page, complaining about the wind saying, just once I would like to run with a gale force wind pushing me instead of into me,” McConnell said. “Running into such a strong headwind, makes times meaningless and makes you feel like you’re running a lot further.”
Unlike younger athletes who get faster as they mature, Master athletes generally get slower each year. However, McConnell’s times have actually improved each year. “Yes, my times each year have gotten faster,” McConnell stated, “but, that’s only because I haven’t reached my peak as a Master yet.” It generally takes several years to get a sprinter’s fast-twitch muscles firing on all cylinders. Once that happens, Masters’ times plateau and then drop off. McConnell’s goal at that point will be to try to decrease at a slower rate than others his age group. And, more importantly, not to get injured, which is one of the biggest threats to a Master athlete’s career.
McConnell, a former Reading High School Class and state champion and an All-East, Northeastern University record holder, started sprinting competitively again in 2008 after taking a twenty-eight year hiatus. “It seemed that everyone I knew who had never run before was running in road races and marathons, and I thought I would love to get back to sprinting. I would watch my son, Christopher, compete at Andover HS and my competitive juices would get flowing, but I am not a distance guy,” Chris lamented.
Chris’s fortunes changed after reading an article in 2007 about Bill Collins and the whole world of Masters Track. After doing some research, he hired Richard Holt, from Momentum Sports in London, as his coach, for a year. In 2009 he joined the Greater Boston Track Club and switched coaches and began being coached by David Callum the sprint coach for the GBTC. For several years he ran for Greater Boston winning gold medals in the RI Senior Games and the MA Senior Games as well as the Master’s 100m and 200m in last year’s Bay-State Games. In 2010, he attained All-American status as designated by the USATF, in both the 60m and 200m dashes. In early 2011 he switched his red GBTC singlet for the red singlet of the Mass Velocity Track Club whose members are only Masters Athletes and mostly sprinters. “Their tag line is, ‘Not Far, Just Fast’, which says it all for me,” McConnell said.
McConnell, like most master athletes, only runs part time due to his career. McConnell is the CEO of Essex Investment Management Company, LLC, a Boston-based money management firm. “Finding the time to train is a challenge,” McConnell stated, “my job keeps me busy 24/7, but the benefits I get from improved fitness and stamina levels are worth every minute of practice.”
McConnell will be competing in the World Masters Athletics Championships in Sacramento, CA early next month.