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Sprinters with local ties win gold at World Masters

Courtesy of Debbie Hoffman 
Debbie Hoffman of Los Altos, left, and former Los Altos resident Joy Upshaw were on the winning 4×200 relay team (women’s 50-54 division) at the World Masters Indoor Championships.

Debbie Hoffman wasn’t sure about traveling to Hungary for the World Masters Indoor Championships, a track and field competition she had never participated in before. Nudged by her friend and training partner, the Los Altos resident chose to go – and is so glad she did.

“Joy convinced me to run in the World competition in Budapest,” said Hoffman, referring to former Los Altos Hills resident Joy Upshaw. “What a great experience.”

The experience resulted in two medals for Hoffman, who competed in the women’s 50-54 age division at last month’s meet.

She and Upshaw joined forces with Shemayne Williams (New York) and Lorraine Jasper (Pennsylvania) to win the 4×200-meter relay race. They grabbed gold with a time of 1 minute, 53.81 seconds – just good enough to edge Germany (1:54.08).

“The Germans were our toughest competition,” Hoffman said. “They decided to run their fastest runners first. When I received the baton on the third leg, we were around 40 meters behind. I gained some ground and then I passed off to Joy. Her run was epic. She made up all that distance and passed the German anchor with 5 meters to go.”

Hoffman won’t soon forget how the spectators reacted to Team USA’s come-from-behind victory.

“The crowd went crazy,” she said. “Several people told us that our relay was the most exciting race of the whole meet.”

Hoffman and Upshaw additionally earned medals in individual events at the international meet, held March 25-30.

Hoffman bagged a bronze in the 400 dash (1:05.17). A collegiate sprinter at Rutgers University, Hoffman has won the 400 at several National Masters Championships since returning to racing five years ago.

Upshaw claimed the 60 hurdles (9.48 seconds) and 200 dash (26.73 seconds) in Budapest. A member of the Masters Track Hall of Fame, the Lafayette resident holds indoor world records in the 200 and long jump.

“It is fun to challenge yourself and have goals for racing,” said Upshaw, an assistant track coach at Gunn High who also runs her own track club.

Upshaw and Hoffman aren’t done racing this spring. They are slated to compete in the Women’s Masters 100 this weekend at Mount San Antonio College.

“To be able to compete in Masters Track is very rewarding – no matter what level,” Upshaw said.

For more information on the Masters program, visit


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