Mary Slaney Back on Track, Wins the 1,500 in 4:09.14 at Eugene
Distance runner Mary Slaney returned to track competition for the first time since 1985 Saturday by winning the 1,500 meters at the Oregon Twilight meet in her hometown.
Joaquim Cruz, the Brazilian who won the 800-meter gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, also made his 1988 debut and won the men’s 1,500 meters.
Slaney won the race in a meet-record time of 4:09.14 at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. Claudette Groenendaal, a former NCAA champion in the event, came in second at 4:11.84, followed by the Oregon’s Annette Hand at 4:18.33.
“I’m not a hurdler, but I got over a big psychological hurdle by running this race,” Slaney said. “I was prepared to stop at any point if I felt the slightest twinge. I didn’t, so now I feel that problem is over.”
The problem was an injured Achilles’ tendon that forced Slaney to miss the 1987 season after one road race. She sat out the 1986 season for the birth of her daughter.
Slaney, who holds the world women’s mile record and every American women’s record from 800 to 10,000 meters, skipped the 1988 indoor season because she continued to feel tightness in the leg.
“My objective was to run easy and relaxed,” she said Saturday night. “Since I had no twinges or cramps I feel this can be the start of a good spring. Next I will run a 3,000 in two weeks.”
Slaney has said she will compete in the 3,000 meters in the U.S. Olympic trials.
“The weather was perfect and cold was not a factor,” she said. “I don’t have to run really fast until the Olympic Trials, and I have to be able to peak in September.”
Cruz, a former University of Oregon runner who also calls Eugene home, won the 1,500 meters with a time of 3:41.47, just ahead of Eric Peterson of Oregon at 3:41.79.