July 31, 2009

TIME STILL NOT SLOWING BORROMEO DOWN

By Gary Fitz
Nashua Telegraph Staff Writer

Many former athletes reach middle age with more than a few regrets. If only they had trained harder, eaten better or been more careful about preventing injuries, how much better could they have been?

At Nashua High School in the mid 1980s, nobody was faster than Barney Borromeo. If he got by you on a soccer field, you had no shot at catching him.

The same was true on the track. A state champion sprinter, he had plenty of college interest and wound up accepting a scholarship offer from Penn State. Missing his close-knit family, he returned after one year, and spent some time at Southern New Hampshire University before eventually settling in at the University of New Hampshire.

Borromeo still owns the 100-meter dash record for the Wildcats. His 200-meter record fell just a few years ago. As a senior, he led the UNH men to one of their best track seasons ever, a second-place finish at the New England championships.

Still, Borromeo looks back at injuries that kept him off the track as much as he was on it. The chronic hamstring problems; the time he missed because of an injury playing indoor soccer.

Now 41, Borromeo doesn't just reminisce about his glory years on track. He still sprints.

A month ago, he won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes in the Masters Division of the Bay State Games, setting meet records in both events.

His 100 time, 11.65 seconds, is about one second slower than his school record time at UNH, where his old coach, Jim Boulanger, is still one of the his biggest fans."Back then he was amazing, but I wasn't sure he had that kind of love for track,'' Boulanger said. "I think a few years ago he realized how much he did love it and what a great way it was to keep fit.''

Borromeo, who now lives in Middleboro, Mass., got into competitive weight lifting for a few years, but there was something missing.

"It just wasn't the same from a competitive standout,'' Borromeo said. "So I started to run again, at first just to stay in shape.

"Then it was a matter of how far I could take it.''

As it turned out, all the way to San Sebastien, Spain, where Borromeo finished 11th in his age group in the Masters World Championships four summers ago. He was the third ranked American that summer.

He returned to competition in 2002 and won a national championship in the 60-meter dash a year later at age 35. In 2003, he was ranked sixth nationally in the 100.

He took some time off between 2006-2008, following the births of his four-year-old son Braden and daughter MacKenzie, who turns two in November. Borromeo returned again last summer to win his age group in the 100 at the Bay State Games.

Borromeo says it's a lot more difficult to compete now than it was to compete then, but it's worth it.

"In college it took a couple of hours to recover after a meet,'' Borromeo said. "Now it's a couple of days. Back then, I'd take my sweats off and I was ready to run. Now I warm up for about 90 minutes before a race.''

There are plenty of people still competing, some still putting up amazing times. The most amazing of all is probably 48-year-old Willie Gault. The former Chicago Bear wide receiver currently owns world records in the Over-45 division in both the 100 (10.72) and 200 (21.80).

Borromeo, meanwhile, still thinks he has another sub-11 second 100 in him. And he's enjoying track more than he ever did.

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