PORTLAND – Sue McCarthy returned to her athletic roots two years ago when she began competing in track meets. A Division III All-American sprinter in college, McCarthy is competing in masters track and field.
And doing very well.
McCarthy, 47, recently won a gold medal and two silvers at the USA Masters indoor championships in Albuquerque, N.M. She won the 400 meters, and was second in the 60 and 200.
McCarthy, who also won the 200 and was second in the 400 at the Eastern Masters meet in January, said she got back into track because her workplace has a corporate team.
“Since college, I’ve been active doing outdoorsy things,” said McCarthy, a psychotherapist in Portland. “The place where I work offers corporate track and field. I hadn’t worked in a place before that offered it. I wanted to take advantage.”
After college, McCarthy became interested in hiking, cycling and distance running.
“Distance running wasn’t my thing. Sprinting has always been my favorite,” she said.
While in high school on New York’s Long Island, McCarthy’s coach told her she had natural talent. She was a four-year member of the varsity track team and set a Long Island high school record in the 300 with a time of 37.07 seconds. She was named all-league and all-county.
In college, first at SUNY Cortland and then SUNY Stony Brook, McCarthy was named a Division III All-American all four years. In 1987, she set outdoor school records at Stony Brook in the 200 (25.07) and 400 (56.46) that still stand.
After many years away, McCarthy rediscovered her passion. She competes for a New England-based team called Mass Velocity.
“It’s my family,” she said. “The team camaraderie is excellent. Whenever you finish a race, there’s always someone putting an arm around you.”
Asked how long she would like to compete, McCarthy said, “forever.”
She said the benefits of physical activity are many.
“It’s a sense of being capable of doing whatever you want to do,” said McCarthy. “It could be working around the house, climbing a mountain or whatever you like to do. Physical activity definitely gives you a boost mentally.”
Also, she cited the satisfaction of setting a goal and attaining it.
“I’m really producing good work. I know I’m never going to get back to the times I had in college because of age, but I still have some improvement until I reach my limit,” she said.
McCarthy is between seasons and doing light training but will soon resume her regular regimen. During the winter she trained from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. twice a week at the University of Southern Maine. Kim Williams, a teammate from South Portland, often trains with her.
“Sue is very talented and trains really hard,” said Williams, who competes in the pentathlon. “It was good to see her do so well at the USA Masters. She was fantastic in the 400. She took off and was leading in the first lap and then edged the second-place finisher at the end.
“It’s amazing that she can still run 200 meters under 30 seconds at her age. Sue has been a great addition to Mass Velocity.”
McCarthy’s 60-meter time of 8.51 ranks in the 91.08 percentile for her age group (45-49). Anything 90 and over is considered national caliber. She has a 200 time of 28.55 and also a 400 time of 1:06.07. They rank 86.12 and 85.41, respectively.
A single parent, McCarthy is raising an 11-year-old daughter, Logan.
“She’s my biggest fan,” said McCarthy. “She comes to watch me run whenever she can. “
Susan Wiemer of Freeport is another friend who occasionally trains with McCarthy and Williams. They serve as motivation for one another. Wiemer, 45, won gold medals in the 60-meter hurdles, shot put and pentathlon at the national championships.
“Sue is very talented and gracious,” said Wiemer. “She’s faster in the 100. I’m faster in the 400 and my time in the 200 is a little better, but we’re very close.”
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]