Record-breaking runner Jan Holmquist. Photo by Ari Silverfine, courtesy of Stephen Lane

Octogenarian runner sets world record at Concord’s Adrian Martinez Classic

More than 300 runners and 1,000 spectators converged at this month’s Adrian Martinez Classic to witness — and deliver — world-class performances. 

Meet Director and founder Stephen Lane said the performance of the evening belonged to Jan Holmquist, who set a new world record for the mile in the women’s 80+ division. Holmquist’s time of 7:17.19 shattered the previous record by nearly nine seconds, he said. 

Other highlights he cited included Emily Mackay clocking the fastest time this year by an American woman in the 800 meters, finishing in 1:57.87, and Sam Gilman, a recent Air Force Academy graduate, setting a new meet record in the men’s 1500 meters by running 3:36.76 to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Helen Schlachtenhaufen, who trains in Boston, broke the women’s 1500-meter meet record with a time of 4:06.78. 

Martinez, a 2002 CCHS graduate and standout miler, suffered a fatal cardiac arrest shortly after graduating from Williams College in 2006.

Our earlier story:

Adrian Martinez Classic inspires champions, Olympians — and memories

By Marybeth Connaughton — Correspondent 

On any given Saturday, Emerson Park would look much like any other small-town playground at the dawn of summer. 

But on June 8, within arm’s reach of pickup basketball games and kids riding the swings, former Olympians and national titleholders will race on the park’s track, competing to forge new records while honoring the life of one of Concord’s most talented milers. 

Among the elite runners in this year’s Adrian Martinez Classic are 2020 Olympian Elle Purrier-St. Pierre and 2016 Olympian Abbey Cooper.

But with all the champions on the track, the day’s true heart is the runner who can only be there in spirit. 

Adrian Martinez. Photo courtesy of Angel Martinez

Adrian Martinez, a 2002 Concord-Carlisle High School graduate, is remembered by his father, Angel, as kind, giving, and “universally loved” — a young man with a “willingness to be there for people who were struggling or people who needed help.” In addition to his athletic ability, Adrian was an avid learner and a particularly gifted math student. 

In 2006, shortly after graduating from Williams College, Martinez suffered a fatal cardiac arrest during a pickup soccer game with friends. 

The Classic, founded in 2009 by CCHS social studies teacher and former coach Steve Lane, allows runners of all ages and skill levels to enjoy what Adrian held dear: running and being with friends. 

“Adrian was part of a really special group of athletes,” explains Lane, the meet director. 

“They loved running, loved competing, and loved being together doing it. And through the years, I’ve tried to keep it true to that spirit: running, racing, community, and fun.”

Adrian Martinez left, with John Bauer, spring 2002. Photo courtesy of Stephen Lane

Lane continues, “Being able to see races like this on our track is a lot of fun for runners of all ages, especially kids — getting autographs, high-fiving an Olympian, just being trackside to see them race. [It’s] inspiring, and as a teacher and former coach, I want my students to leave the meet feeling really excited and motivated.”

At first, the race was “kind of a family event where 5-year-olds to 65-year-olds could step out and see how well they could run a mile,” Angel Martinez explains. 

Word of the event began to spread and more and more high-level athletes felt drawn in — particularly to “The Adro Open Mile,” a nod to Adrian’s nickname and his favorite event. 

Ten men completed this race in under four minutes in 2017. The following year, five women finished in under 4:30. 

In fact, many unique records have been set on the Emerson track: In 2015, Jan Holmquist of Burlington broke the world record mile for runners ages 70 and older. In 2010, Mary Harada of the Liberty Athletic Club broke the world mile record for the 75-plus age group. 

Lane also notes how many runners participated in the Classic before they became stars. 

The “American record holder in the marathon, Emily Sisson, ran in 2016 and 2018. Emma Bates, who has represented the U.S. at World Championships in the marathon, ran in 2017,” he says.

“Elle Purrier ran in 2019, just before she became the dominant mid-distance runner in the U.S. — and now world champion!” 

Elle Purrier, Abbey Cooper, and Katrina Coogan after the 5000m in 2019. Photo by Kevin Morris, courtesy of Stephen Lane

Spectators play a unique role, too. After the second lap of a race, they’re allowed to stand right on the track. 

For competitors, “it’s like running through a tunnel of people,” Adrian’s father explains.

And for spectators, “Usually, you get to see that high-level performance from way up in the grandstands somewhere. You’re never up close and personal with the runner, so that’s what makes it so exciting.” 

Proceeds from the event support the Adrian A. Martinez Scholarship fund, established by the Martinez family and administered by the Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle, for CCHS students who need a boost to pursue higher education. The race also supports the CCHS track and cross-country teams. 

Ultimately, Angel says, the event is about bringing people together and honoring Adrian’s spirit and legacy as an example to all. 

“He had an impact on everyone he met,” Angel says. “He continues to inspire.”