© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated

Forty-one-year-old long-distance runner Deena Kastor of Mammoth Lakes, California, ran the second fastest American masters (40-44) half-marathon on Sunday, March 23rd in Dallas, Texas at the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. She finished in 71:57 to win the race in very windy conditions. Prior to the event Kastor told ESPN that she feels that she is in shape to run a 71 to 72 minute half-marathon. She did just that and nearly took the American masters record of 71:50, which was set by Colleen de Reuck in 2006, at the age of 42. The world record is 69:56 by Russian Irina Permitina from 2008 at the age of 40. Kastor’s race on Sunday was the 12th fastest masters half-marathon in the world, all-time.

Asked to speculate how much faster she might have run given better conditions and tougher competition – she won by six and a half minutes – Kastor told Athletics Illustrated, “I can’t speculate how much faster I could have run since the wind was so brutal. My cap almost flew off my head a couple of times in the first few miles, so I ignored my watch and decided to simply run strong.”

It is no surprise that at the age of 41 she continues to run at a very high level. Kastor currently holds or has held at least seven American distance records including the current marathon record of 2:19:36 and the current half-marathon record of 67:34. She is also the bronze medallist from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games Marathon. Kastor won the Chicago and London Marathons. Her marathon best continues to be ranked high as it currently stands as the tenth fastest in the world, all-time.

Twice she won the silver medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and she is an eight-time national cross-country champion. She was featured in the 2007 documentary Spirit of the Marathon, which chronicled her training and eventual victory at the 2005 Chicago Marathon.

How fit is Kastor, right now? As she said it is difficult to speculate; however, she added, “I also ran by myself the entire time, but thanks to Dallas citizens coming out of their gorgeous homes early in the morning, there were people cheering on the sidelines. Other people in the race claimed they were 1-3 minutes off their fitness times, but I would rather run another race to figure out what my current potential is.” If Kastor ran as expected, while others were 1-3 minutes off of their anticipated time due to wind, perhaps she would have come close to the masters world record, which is two minutes faster than her finishing time Sunday – the median time in the arbitrary range of 1 to 3 minutes of expected finishing times by other athletes.

“I certainly want to run another fast half-marathon soon. My schedule is booked until June, so I have time to think about it. Until then, I hope to continue training while traveling for the NY MORE Fitness Half Marathon, speaking engagements and appearances for my sponsor ASICS. I value these appearances just as much as I value racing, because it is these weekends that connect me with the masses of this amazing sport.”

In regards to breaking de Reuck’s American record, she said, “Record breaking is enticing, but everything needs to fall into place. It was never my intention to run the Rock ‘n Roll Dallas Half to break an American masters record. Instead, I had this race on my calendar and trained to be ready for it. My previous race was all the way back to last summer at the World Championships. I really just wanted to have a fun experience when (if) I returned to racing again; the Rock ‘n Roll series was perfect for me.  I love their events in that they truly celebrate health, fitness and charity through running. Despite a hectic travel schedule, I got into great fitness getting ready for Dallas. If I can build off this fitness for my next performance, I will be excited for what I can accomplish, but that being said, I’d need people to run with and calm weather conditions to boot!” Which is precisely the speculative hope that makes one wonder if Kastor can break the world masters record as it appears that the American record is clearly within her grasp.