Ex-Mayo runner's mark is one for the books

For years Christy Amaris has served as ``clerk of course'' for Rochester Mayo track meets, and she was there again Saturday during the 15th running of the Mayo Girls Invitational. She still holds the state record for 400 meters. tg Some records are made to be broken.

Others just last for a long time.

Like for Christy Vitse.

A senior at Rochester Mayo in 1977, Vitse set the state 400-meter dash record of 55.4 seconds on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in Richfield.

That record still stands and is the oldest girls' track record in the state books.


``Do I remember that day? Sure I do,'' said Christy Amaris, her married name. ``I remember false-starting, too, the only race I ever false-started in my career. And I can still hear my dad yelling, `What are you doing?'

``Am I surprised that the record still stands? Oh yes. You know I haven't been back to a state meet since that day, but I still look in the paper wanting to know if someone broke it.

``I'm sure it will be someday and I don't know why no one has yet. But everything felt right that day. It was a tremendous thrill.''

These days you'll find Christy Amaris back on the track, where she was Saturday during the 15th running of the Mayo Invitational. For years, she has volunteered to serve as ``clerk of course,'' a fancy name for the person in charge of making sure athletes are lined up and put in their proper heat assignments.

``It's great for me and for our kids to have Christy around,'' said Joann Johnson, the Mayo head coach and meet director. ``For Christy, it's kind of a payback to a sport which has been good for her. She takes care of everything that has to be taken care of, and that sure makes it easier for me.''

Johnson never coached Vitse Aramis Amaris in high school, but they became close friends and at the time served as her summer coach, taking her to numerous all sorts of meets.

``In high school, Christy first ran cross country and then the 1,600,'' said the Mayo coach, ``but then made the switch to the 400 and sprints. And good thing.''

Vitse Aramis Amaris still holds the school record in the 400 (55.4 in 1977), the mile (5:15.4 in 1975), 200 (25.0 in 1976) and as a member of the 1,600 relay (3:58.0 in 1977).


Quite a career, and she's still running.

``Until last year, I never knew they had a state masters competition,'' she said, ``and I plan to run in that again this summer.''

Of course.

She won four age-group masters' events last year -- 100, 200, 400 and mile -- and her aim now is to repeat and perhaps earn a trip to the nationals. She'll also compete in as many events as possible in the Star of the North Games, June 16-17 in Roseville.

Her 400 time last summer was 63 seconds, still most respectable.

``I'll train more as the meet is closer,'' she said, ``but now I'm working on my endurance, running home from work every day.''

She works for the Mayo Clinic as a secretary in the GI Department.

After graduating, Amaris went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison on a track scholarship but blew out her knee when, of all things, she hit it on a hurdle.


``I had big plans,'' she said, ``but it wasn't meant to be, I guess. Besides, if you're talking Olympics, the United States boycotted the 1980 Games and the Russians didn't show up in 1984.''

Still it was a mighty big blow to one so competitive.

``She was a terrific athlete, highly-motivated and mentally tough,'' said Johnson. ``A super person.''

Christy Aramis Amaris now must find time to watch her son, Josh, compete. He's a freshman at Rochester Lourdes and so far is not following in her mother's footsteps. He runs the 800, mile and two-mile.

She has a daughter, Erica, going on 7, who competes in the summer's All-Comer Meets at Soldiers Field.

Husband Nash, her husband, also has two sons from a previous marriage, Troy and Jeff.

Josh runs for Lourdes coach Chris Miller and, ironically, both Christy and Chris ran track for their respective schools at the same time.

Back then, Christy ran mostly on cinder tracks and didn't have the new-and-improved track equipment athletes are use today.


What if?

``What if I were running under those conditions back then?'' she asked. ``Could I have gone faster? Yes, I suppose so.''

That's probably true.

For sure, though, no one has gone faster in Minnesota since. @etp

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