Today I’m posting a tribute to my original USATF mentor, Carol McLatchie. This article appeared in yesterday’s “The Bulletin”, the Bend OR daily. Carol’s commitment to the sport is without peer, I am fortunate to have had her guide my early years. Husband Jim is my coaching mentor, what a great couple of people!
Bend woman to coach U.S. team
U.S. indoor distance team will receive help in Turkey from Carol McLatchie
By Amanda Miles / The Bulletin
Last modified: February 28. 2012 7:13AM PST
Day by day, year by year, Bend resident Carol McLatchie has built up an impressive resume in the running world.
Athlete, coach, manager, official — rare is the role she has not performed in the sport, ranging from the local scene to the international level.
And in just a matter of days, McLatchie, 60, will travel to Turkey, where she will serve as the women’s distance coach for the U.S. national team at the International Association of Athletics Associations Indoor World Championships, scheduled for March 9-11 in Istanbul.
“It’s a great honor, and it’s just like, OK, whatever I can do not to screw up,” says McLatchie.
The designation is probably, at least in part, a nod to her record in the sport.
“In some ways, it’s like a reward for volunteering in the national federation, with athletes, on committees, officiating, just contribution to the sport,” explains McLatchie, who says she received official notification that she had been named to the position in December.
As a coach for the U.S. team, her role is primarily to assist her athletes, which are the U.S. women’s 800-meter, 1,500-meter and 3,000-meter entrants. (These events are the longest races contested at the world indoor championships. In outdoor world championships and Olympic competition, both men and women compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase rather than the flat 3,000 meters, and in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.)
As McLatchie explained them, her tasks will largely be administrative in nature, such as learning which athletes want to share rooms, seeing if the athletes have special needs, tracking down items they may have forgotten, and keeping tabs on them at all times in case they are requested for drug testing. If any of the runners wishes to go on a long run during their free time, McLatchie will also help organize the excursion, as, she notes, the team’s hotel is not located near any parks.
“So that’s going to be a challenge, is how far do they want to run and when, what day, and what we can do to work it out,” McLatchie says.
McLatchie will travel by air out of New York on March 4 with the rest of the U.S. team, which will take a direct flight to Istanbul and arrive a few days prior to the start of the championships for a mini training camp.
The day after the championships end, the U.S. team will fly back to New York, and from there, McLatchie will make her return to Central Oregon.
She says she has never been to Istanbul, a city of some 13 million people (as of 2010) that is situated on the northeast coast of the Sea of Marmara and within a day’s drive of the eastern borders of Bulgaria and Greece.
This is not the first time that McLatchie’s involvement in running and track and field has offered an avenue to travel to a different part of the world. She was an assistant team manager for the 1993 U.S. women’s team that competed in the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, staged in Stuttgart, Germany, back when American track and field icons such as Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Gail Devers were still competing. And she has served as a U.S. team official in international half-marathon and relay events in countries such as Slovakia, Spain, Japan and India.
Her competitive running career has been similarly stellar. After taking up the sport in her early adult years, McLatchie won an elite-level national title in the 10,000 on the track in 1988. She also finished 12th in the inaugural U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the women’s marathon, staged in May 1984 in Olympia, Wash. Joan Benoit Samuelson won that race and went on to capture Olympic gold in Los Angeles a few months later.
And that’s not even the whole of her resume, which includes positions on high-ranking USA Track & Field committees. She will serve as a meet official for the second time at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene this summer.
When McLatchie returns to Central Oregon from Istanbul, she will resume volunteer coaching duties of the distance runners at Summit High School. Her husband, Jim, is in his third season at the helm of the Storm’s track and field distance squad.
But on the near horizon, Turkey beckons, the next position in a long line of service that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.
“It’s a honor and a recognition, which is cool,” McLatchie says of her Istanbul post. “But I just kind of keep moving forward and looking to see where I can help become a better official, better coach.”