Man from Plant City wins gold at the 2022 Masters Outdoor Championships

At 60, Roger Chapman is one of the world’s best runners in his division and took home his medal in the 800 meters last weekend.

Plant City’s Roger Chapman won gold in the 800 meters last weekend at the USA Track & Field 2022 Masters Outdoor Championships at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY

At 60 – racing in the 60-64 class – he took first place on the podium with a time of 2:19.54.

Born in England, Chapman was always a runner and eventually used that skill to earn a track and field scholarship to Eastern Kentucky University, where he ran the 400-meter and 800-meter and earned a degree in computer science. After his time at EKU, he completed his Masters at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland before returning to the States for a PhD in Cognitive Systems Engineering. With his time filled with graduate work before the focus shifted to his career, running had become an afterthought for Chapman, particularly at the competitive level.

Chapman spent much of his career in Pennsylvania before later founding his own small business – Collaborative Work Systems, Inc. – and moving to Plant City in 2008. He only ran recreationally for exercise and was reintroduced to competitive running when former friends walked the track and posted photos to Facebook of USATF events. In 2016 he attended his first National Senior Games Association meetings and returned to competition in 2019 via the NSGA and USATF Masters. He slowed down in 2020 and 2021, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but decided to really take it more seriously and stepped up his training over the past year, culminating in his championship performance this month.

“At this age, I’m 60 years old, it’s like time travel for me,” Chapman said. “For me, returning to the track is really like going back in time. It’s something that’s sort of a comfort zone for me, it brings back memories, and it brings back a lot of intangibles. I run like a lot of people, there’s a lot of people in Plant City that run, but it’s different to be on a track and race. And many people who ran track when they were young are unaware of the possibility of continuing to run. You can look at Disney, the races they have for distance runners, for 5k runners, for half marathon runners, there are so many ways to do that, but I think people who are in high school might enjoy it the train, they don’t understand that you can go on. You’re not just limited to street running and those Disney-like runs. There are opportunities through these organizations, the USATF Masters and the Senior Games.”

The USATF Masters offers local, regional, national, and international athletics and long-distance running opportunities for participants 25 and older, divided into age groups based on five-year increments. They also offer race walking for athletes aged 35 and over. Similarly, the National Senior Games Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering active adults through the Senior Games movement to lead healthy lifestyles and provide competitive opportunities for athletes age 50 and older.

Chapman trains on the city’s paved roads and trails and uses phone apps to manage his workouts and track his progress, but longs for a more accessible way to train on a rubberized surface and for a community of older runners who who can all train together. He suggested the possibility of a non-profit track and field club that could potentially gain access to Plant City High School’s new track once it’s completed.

In 2019, Chapman ranked 125th in the world and 15th in the United States in his age group for the 800 meters. After intensifying his training and competitions and moving into a new age group, he is currently ranked 10th in the world and 2nd in the USA for the men’s 800 meters.

At 60, Chapman just wants to keep running, primarily to stay fit, but adds that running events also give him something to train for. His next target is the World Masters Outdoor Championships to be held in Poland in 2023, which would be another experience and a chance to represent the USA and potentially win a medal.

“Track and field changed my life in that I was a very shy kid,” Chapman said. “And like many people, being good at something and having someone pat you on the back, winning something or winning in sport can be very good for your confidence. It changed my life in that way, but it also changed my life when I came to America, it gave me the opportunity to come, it absolutely changed my life. Now I am a US citizen. After I got my Masters I lived the rest of my life in this country. It has opened up new opportunities for me, but has also benefited my health.”

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