Northern Va. man keeps raising the barApril 4, 2004 Section: SPORTS
WEEKEND ATHLETE: RUNNING
When Bruce McBarnette takes his life to new heights, he is not kidding around. His passion is the high jump, and he is among world's elite in that discipline.
The 46-year-old Sterling, Va., resident was somewhat disappointed that he merely won another gold medal at the U.S. Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships last weekend in Boston. He really wanted to break his own world record of 6 feet 4 inches for his 45-49 age group.
"There are things I am striving for," said McBarnette, who was the 2003 USA Track and Field Athlete of the Year for his age group. "As far as track, I have achieved as much as I can, short of being in the Olympics. I do it because it is fun. I like to compete. I like to do my best. I like to support the other athletes. At the same time, there is a personal challenge to do your best that day. It may not be the best you had 10 years ago."
McBarnette needs some new incentives because just winning championships might be getting old. He earned his ninth masters championship gold on March 27 with a jump of 6 feet 2 inches, adding to a trophy case that contains hardware from two world championships. His leap was half-inch short of his own height.
His lifetime best is about 7-1, which is 4 inches shy of jumping over Houston Rockets star Yao Ming. That jump came in 1984 at the Rutgers Relays, the most memorable feat of his career.
"Jumping 7-1 has to stand out," said McBarnette, who began competing in masters track as a 30-year-old in 1989 and has always medaled at national meets. "My PR before that was 7 feet. That was pretty memorable, too; that's a huge barrier for a jumper to break. My father saw John Thomas become the first human to jump 7 feet in Madison Square Garden in 1959, so it was special for him when I called him to say I jumped 7."
McBarnette said his father missed his 7-1 jump when he fell asleep in his car after watching and waiting for hours for his son to compete.
McBarnette's competition would be challenged to live as full a life as he does.
The Princeton grad is president of Summit Connection, a real estate investment company; he also holds a law degree that came in handy when he was legal counsel for a U.S. Senate committee, a judge advocate attorney for the U.S. Army and a senior counsel for Fannie Mae before joining Summit.
McBarnette also teaches courses on real estate and memory techniques at Northern Virginia Community College, George Washington University, Prince George's Community College and Hagerstown Junior College.
In his spare time he is an actor who has appeared in such television shows as "The West Wing," "Homicide" and "Law and Order," as well as several major films. A call to his voice mail reveals there is a separate mailbox for casting agents.
But McBarnette's greatest contribution is his charity work. He has been honored by the Trey Whitfield Foundation for his athletic accomplishments and for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the homeless in Washington.
He counts at least 2,000 schoolchildren a year who have heard his speeches about personal success and solutions to homelessness.
He said he has the time to juggle his busy schedule in large part because he is single, a status he said he would like to change at some point. "No woman has yet to become a priority enough to fit into my schedule," he said, emphasizing that he plans to jump as long as he is healthy.
No April fool - The 29th Marine Corps Marathon began online registration for its application lottery at midnight April 1 at marinemarathon.com. Registration will remain open through 11:59 p.m. June 1. Applications for the event on Sunday, Oct. 31 will be randomly drawn starting May 5 for five consecutive Wednesdays through June 2.
Cast her for NYC - Sources say Deena (Drossin) Kastor, American marathon record-holder and runner-up at yesterday's Women's Olympic Marathon Trials, will announce Tuesday her intention of running the New York City Marathon in November. If she medals in Athens, I wonder if she could renegotiate her appearance fee like professional sports stars often do.
* Easter Classic 10K/5K - Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Hains Point. Information: 703/481-3530.
* PGRC Springburst 8K - Saturday, 9 a.m., Greenbelt National Park. Information: 301/982-2457.
* HCS Lake Elkhorn 10K/2 Mile - April 11, 2 p.m., Columbia, Md. Information: 410/964-1998.
* Main Street Mile - April 14, 7 p.m., Westminster, Md. Information: 410/848-8332.
* Firebirds Mile - April 15, 6:45 p.m., Gaithersburg. Information: 301/353-0200.