AT 37, Maria Michta-Coffey was the senior citizen of the entire gold medal brigade at USA Nationals.
But don’t dare tell this Long Islander and multi-tasking mom — valedictorian at her C.W. Post graduation, proud microbiology doctorate-holder now a physician’s assistant — that her best racewalking days are in the rear-view mirror.
She called her 1:38:37.5 triumph energizing, invigorating and a note to American walking’s younger generation that they’ve still got some catching-up to do.
MMC lapped her closest pursuers as she sped to her record 47th national gold medal (all distances) and ninth all-told at USA Outdoor Nationals. This was her first in 5 years.
But here’s where you put an asterisk next to her dominating 50-Hayward-lap performance. The catch is that she — and closest pursuers Stephanie Casey and Miranda Melville — too — rank past No. 50 on the WA charts at 20K, so this will almost surely be the lone women’s event on the Budapest slate without an American presence.
But — hold everything — Michta-Coffey still figures to be lacing ’em up in the Hungarian capital. In January, just back of Melville’s 2:57.22 gold, she’d taken the USA National 35K silver in 2:58.39 with Casey at 3:00.05.
Thus, she reckons those three Santee performances are going to be WA-certified qualifiers, giving Team USA a full threesome for this second staging of the global 21.7-miler.
Contesting the 35K is “really my choice,” said Michta-Coffey. “The longer races now are better suited for me.”
But there was no doubt about the destination of this ’23 gold after the 6:30 a.m, starting gun.
Michta-Coffey claimed the lead in the earliest strides and was never seriously challenged, reeling off lap-after-lap-after-lap at metronomic 1:55-ish pace. After 50 circuits, the gap was a definitive 2:11.3. As she crossed the Hayward line, Casey and Melville were starting their final 400s.
The silver-bronze decision — Casey’s 1:40:48.8 to Melville’s 1:40:49.0 — was stunningly close.
WOMEN’S 20K WALK RESULTS
(July 08; track)
1. Maria Michta-Coffey (OisWUSA) 1:38:37.5;
2. Stephanie Casey (TS) 1:40:48.8;
3. Miranda Melville (NYAC) 1:40:49.0;
4. Katie Burnett (unat) 1:42:28.9;
5. Robyn Stevens (unat) 1:44:30.2;
6. Celina Lepe (unat) 1:45:43.6;
7. Lydia McGranahan (unat) 1:47:34.6;
8. Katie Miale (NEW) 1:52:41.9;
… dnf—Janelle Branch (TS).