Volume 73, Number 45 | March 10 -16, 2004

Runners are off for German races

By Albert Amateau

Francis A. Schiro is skipping his usual morning training sessions on the track at E. Sixth St. in East River Park this week.

Schiro, 51, left for Stuttgart, Germany, on Mon. March 8 hoping for a glorious triumph in the first Indoor Masters World Track and Field Championships.

“I’m in shape,” he told an interviewer on March 3. “I’d better be in shape — they’re waiting for me in Germany.”

Always positive and full of confidence, Schiro was especially pumped up last week, high on the elixir of victory after he and his Sprint Force America team had smashed a world record on Sun. Feb 22 in the 4-x-400 indoor sprint medley relay for runners aged 50 to 59 at the Metropolitan Athletic Congress event at the 169th St. Armory in Washington Heights.

Three minutes and 56.77 seconds after the gun fired at 5 p.m. on Feb. 22 to start Schiro in the sprint medley for runners 50 plus at the Washington Heights Armory, the Sprint Force America anchor, Carroll Blake, 53, crossed the finish line.

“The old record was four minutes 51 seconds,” Schiro recalled, “We had tough competition in the Central Park Track Club. Alston Brown, who holds the world half-mile record for 50 and older, anchored them. But we buried them.” Roger Pierce, 59, and Ed Gonera, 52, of Rockland County, a co-founder of Sprint Force America with Schiro, are also on the sprint medley team in Stuttgart this week.

Schiro lives with his wife on E. Fifth St. and conducts a handcrafted gift business on Ludlow St. and trains in East River Park several days a week. “It’s an all-weather track and you can find a cross-section of the East Village, a multiplicity of people of all ages,” said Schiro.

A star runner in high school, he took up running again as a 45-year-old and six years later is still going strong. Schiro led the Sprint Force America 4-x-400 sprint medley relay to victory in Puerto Rico in July of last year.


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