My name is Phillip Pillin and I was a 1980 graduate of Poland Seminary High School where I ran cross country and track. I then went to Bowling Green State University where I continued my running and racing career near the back of the pack graduating there in 1984 after having some of the best running times of my life.

Needless to say, I, like many BGSU Cross Country and Track & Field alumni were, and still are completely frustrated with the University’s decision to drop Men’s Track & Field.  That is a whole other letter of discussion, but it is related to this letter. I continued to run and race after graduation and continue to do so. I have been involved with our great sport for 45 years in many different capacities. This letter is not about me, but how we can move our great sport forward. 

     USATF is the National Governing Body of Track & Field, Road Racing, Racewalk, Mountain, and Ultra, and Trail.   Early on, I was at odds with USATF Lake Erie and USATF for what I perceived as the lack of events for post collegiate athletes in our great sport. (Perhaps it hasn’t changed much- and I’ll always push for more opportunities!)

    In the fall of 2016, the late Larry Seifert, then President of USATF Lake Erie Association asked me to become the Association Cross Country Chairperson and I then went to my first USATF Annual Meeting. At the Annual Meeting this past December (held virtually), I was elected USATF Midwest Masters T&F Regional Coordinator to serve the Masters T&F athletes in the states of Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.   While in road racing, Masters starts at 40, in T&F, Masters starts at 25!

     Road races have always been popular (though with COVID 19, I see many races becoming virtual, and in my opinion, that is not good), and in recent years, there have been more ‘charity’ races and less prize money races for the ‘faster’ athletes and sometimes it seems that our sport is looked at as a ‘fundraising opportunity’ rather than a sport that counts times and places, distances and heights.

    Track and Field, while extremely popular with youth, middle school, and high school has seen opportunities drop at the college level- especially on the men’s side. Track and Field is virtually ‘nonexistent’ past college graduation- the reason for starting Masters T&F at age 25!

    Rod O’Donnell has written some excellent articles in RUNOHIO about these issues. ( http://runohio.com/index.php/news-features/news/134-keeping-track-by-rod-o-donnell-2020-ohsaa-state-cross-country-championships ) In my opinion, all of us who run road races need to be a ‘fan’ of our sport including T&F and an advocate for rewarding the ‘winners’.  While we celebrate our individual accomplishments in a road race, the winners also need to be acknowledged for the hard work they put in and have some financial gain in various races.

    This early summer, under the guidance of newly appointed Road Race Chairperson Melissa Klim-Miller, a recent YSU runner and graduate, USATF Lake Erie Association will launch a road race series with prize money. To be eligible, a person must join USATF Lake Erie.  I also plan to have a fall cross country series possibly with prize money.  Check out the USATF Lake Erie Association website, Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram for more information.

    I would like to finish this letter by saying that I am here to serve you. We can debate everything I have written and then some. We need a strong sport for our own individual health benefits and for the ‘health’ of athletes striving to achieve their goals all the way to the Olympic aspirations.

    Thank you for reading RUNOHIO and subscribing to this great publication! (https://runsignup.com/runohio) 

    Feel free to email me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (330) 881-2058 if you can offer any additional assistance or have any additional questions. 

Thank you very much,

Phillip Pillin


USATF - https://www.usatf.org  

USATF Lake Erie - http://www.lakeerie.org  

USATF Ohio - https://ohio.usatf.org  

USATF West Virginia - https://wv.usatf.org 

USATF Kentucky - https://kentucky.usatf.org  

USATF Michigan - https://michigan.usatf.org  

USATF Indiana - https://indiana.usatf.org  

USATF Wisconsin - https://wisconsin.usatf.org