On Sunday, July 8th, I participated in the Trevor Craven Memorial Track & Field Meet at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby. My first race was the 3000 meters, and I haven't been in an actual track meet since I was in junior high, so when I spotted some runners I'd seen at other races in the stands, I went up there to ask them how things work. One fellow, Orlando, told me not to worry, they'd call us to the marshalling area and then take us down to the track and explain everything. I also asked him where we put on our track spikes, and he said he always just carries them down with him just wearing his socks and puts them on when we get on the track. This sounded good to me, so that's what we did and it worked out fine.
Ours was the first race of the day, and the meet announcer called us to go down to the marshalling area at one end of the stands, where they checked our names and numbers, and escorted us to the starting line. Mikhail Titov was listed but hadn't shown up. Everything was done very professionally, with the marshal explaining everything and asking if we were all ready to run, while keeping things very relaxed and casual at the same time.
We were all ready to start the race, with the younger people running with us as they were combining the races because we didn't have a huge turnout for our distance. A fellow with a Russian accent appeared and said there was one more racer coming, he was down at the other end of the track, and we had to wait for him. The marshal said okay, but tell him to hurry up. It turned out to be Mikhail Titov, gotta be more prepared next time Mikhail!
We just started off in a line instead of staggered in lanes, so that made it easy, and after one false start when the starting pistol failed to fire, we were off! It was seven and a half laps around the track, and Titov and most of the young people took off ahead of me, and I stayed fairly close for the first half lap, but then backed off into a more suitable pace for me. They had a big clock at one end of the track past the finish line, and the marshal gave us our split times at the half lap point where we'd started, plus when you came around to the finish line they had a sign telling you how many laps were left to go, and all of this helped. What didn't help was that although still early it was already getting quite warm out, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky so we were totally exposed to the sun, plus there was some wind resistance, but c'est la vie!
I was kinda running by myself most of the time trying to keep up a good pace, but after a couple of laps I managed to pass one young woman, and then another one on the next lap. I also lapped Gwen, who is in her 70's, plus Lenore Montgomery twice. Lenore is 85 and just amazing, holding many national records in her age group. Coming around the last straightaway I even lapped Orlando, who again is a lot older than me, at 65, but to my surprise I never got lapped myself. Orlando had told me before the race that as older runners we always got great support from the crowd, and sure enough as I came down the final straightaway toward the finish line, all of a sudden there was great cheering and applause from the crowd, all for me! It was really cool, and inspired me to run in as fast as I possibly could!
I've never run a 3000 meter race before and my goal time was 12 minutes, and I finished in 11 minutes, 59 seconds and a fraction of another second, so officially sub 12! One of the young women I'd passed finished after I did, and then immediately went down and lay on her back on the track, exhausted, and then the other one came in, followed by my fellow masters Lynette, Orlando, Gwen and Lenore. We all congratulated each other, and then headed back into the stands to watch further races and await the posting of our official results.
There were just a massive amount of competitions going on all day long, plus the day before. I'd come down on Saturday to get my race kit, pay for my registration, and just get the lay of the land, and watched young Fraser McKay from the Friday Night Mile compete in the high jump, while watching the races on the track. There was a huge contingent of Aussie athletes there, over 100 competitors plus team officials, family members, etc. who come every year. Every time one of them won a race we got to hear the loud chant "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!"
The races ranged in length from the 60 meter dash to the 5000 meter race (but only 3000 for us oldsters), plus they had hurdles, steeplechase and race walking. Field events ran the whole gamut: high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus, hammer throw and javelin. And you could compete in as many events as you wanted to, for $10 a pop! Next time I might even do the long jump!
We watched the never ending races for awhile, marveling at the speed of some of the young competitors, and watching our own friends compete in the long jump just down below us in front of the stands. One of the women in Orlando's club even set a world record in her age group, and it was announced with great fanfare, but I forgot which event! I went off and watched another new friend Dave compete in the shot put, and soon it was time to run the 800 meters.
Orlando wasn't running this one as he's recovering from a thigh injury and it's a little too intense for him right now, but Lenore and Lynette did. They again just started us off in a line and said to just cut in when it was safe, so that was easy enough. It was getting pretty hot by now, as it was now past 11:30, and I was sweating pretty good. The 800 is quite intense, a cross between a speed and a distance race, and by the second lap my legs were feeling a bit sore from running the 3000 a couple of hours earlier. I just ran as fast as I could on that second lap, again getting applause as I came down the stretch, augmented by people I knew actually calling out my name as they cheered me in. I finished in 2:51.38, and since I haven't run an 800 meter race since junior high, when it was in yards and called the 880, and have no idea what my times were then, this is my PR for this event! Not bad for a first go at it, I'll try and do better next time.
There were so many medals given out they didn't have presentations, you lined up and got them at a desk. For the younger competitors they even had ribbons for the top 4 to 8 in each category, besides the usual gold, silver and bronze medals. I scored a gold for the 3000, and a silver for the 800.
There was a glitch where they had to shut down giving out the medals for an hour while they got everything organized, due to record participation this year, but on the whole it was a marvelous event, very well organized, and just a hell of a lot of fun! Unfortunately it's the last one of the year, but I look forward to competing in more of them in 2013.
No results on the website yet but I'll send them out when they're up.
My next race is the Grand Beach Sun Run 10K, at 8:30 AM, on Sunday, July 15, at Grand Beach on Lake Winnipeg.