On Sunday, February 11, 2018
UNEXPECTED FINISH IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
The Garmin Men’s 40 team began with six men on the squad but by the time the Millrose Games Masters 4 X 400 went off last week, the six were now four and the anchor leg was by his own admission the most unlikely guy on the team. Mark Williams of Columbia put the squad together and got them registered for the prestige event.
Bobbie Brown of South Orange who was a standout on the Notre Dame football team back in his collegiate years, and then spent some time in the NFL was supposed to be on the squad. He might have been the fastest if he had been able to run. But a strain in the week before the event took Brown out of the line-up. The same goes for Rob DeCarlo of Saddle River.
So, the six were now four. Williams, who had national and international wins under his belt in the mile and the 800 meters, including the Harstshorne Masters Mile in 4:31.81 in January, was expected to be the fastest man on the team. Peter Kashulines of Mountain Lakes at 54 was the most senior member of the squad. His specialties were the 800 and the mile with a 2:08 in his race log in 2017.
A standout at Morristown High School in the field events, Jason Lattimore of Morris Plains had added sprints to his resume in his senior year at Morristown. He had only recently joined the club and probably the only one who actually runs the 400 meters in regular competition.
And then there was Morristown’s Gary Rosenberg whose sub five-minute mile streak you read about here last year. Williams had decided to start with the fastest man and work down to the slowest. That put Rosenberg in the anchor leg spot, he told me when we talked this week.
The club had run a team in the 2017 Millrose and had finished sixth out of seven teams, so their expectations were more along the lines of “don’t finish last”.
“Mark told us that the two fastest teams are not coming, so we’re “’oh good, that means we won’t get crushed,’” said Rosenberg.
“I didn’t really want to anchor but what are you going to do? We are going to be so far out of this that it doesn’t matter,” he said he was thinking.
It actually didn’t play out that way though. Williams lead off with a 55 second quarter and he handed off to Kashulines in third place out of the nine teams on the track.
“We figured we’d hand off somewhere near the front and then just keep going backwards,” said Rosenberg.
But Kashulines put them in second place at the hand off.
“Well, that was unexpected,” Rosenberg said he was thinking. The team that was hoping to not finish last was actually gaining ground. Lattimore moved them up one spot and now he was handing off to Rosenberg and no one was in front of them.
Going through Rosenberg’s mind is that he hadn’t raced a quarter in some time, has no speed and has no confidence that he could run fast. Brown or DeCarlo were supposed to be in this race. But there he was on the track at the Millrose Games Masters Relay and he is leading a race that his team had hoped to just not finish last.
Running scared Rosenberg went through the first lap in first place, waiting for the inevitable to happen. Waiting for everyone to come by him.
As he came off the first turn on the second lap, the second-place man began to come around and with an elbow flying, he bumped Rosenberg.
“It threw me off balance. I was running hard and if someone touches me I can’t hold my balance,” he said. “I’m already giving it everything I have.”
“I started falling and I thought I could catch myself. The next thing I know I am on the track.”
Back up on his feet Rosenberg is now in fifth place and trying to get moving again, hoping he can catch up to the guys in front of him. But his momentum is gone and although he passed one man, three others finished ahead of him.
“It was disappointing and I’m not saying that if I didn’t fall we would have won,” he said. “But I think it is safe to say that we would have come in second.”
The man that Rosenberg passed was in the same team age division, so despite the bad luck of going from first to fourth in the final lap, they came home with a medal.
“I never expected to leave with a Millrose medal so it was kind of cool,” said Rosenberg shrugging off their rags-to-riches-to-rags tale.
“Better luck next year,” surely applies.
Contact Madeline Bost at firstname.lastname@example.org