Club Scene

Greyhound Mas­ters Track and Field Club

Canadian Running - - SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER 2017 - By Ta­nia Haas

Af­ter watch­ing a Greyhound train­ing ses­sion you may won­der if they found the Foun­tain of Youth.

New re­search shows that phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, es­pe­cially t he high-in­ten­sit y in­ter val train­ing com­mon to track and field, re­duces inf lam­ma­tion in the body and even re­verses ag­ing at a cel­lu­lar level. The proof is in the club’s tro­phy cab­i­net: the club col­lec­tively holds over 118 na­tional and world records. Founded in 1999, 80 per cent of the 93 mem­bers are aged be­tween 50 and 95. At age 80, Christa Bor­tignon would be con­sid­ered “mid­dle age” and she holds world records in 400m, long jump, triple jump, 80m hur­dles, 200m hur­dles, pen­tathlon and hep­tathlon. The club hopes to add to their hard­ware this Septem­ber when 40 mem­bers com­pete at the 55+ B.C. Games in Ver­non.

“Peo­ple are al­ways sur­prised of the num­ber of meets that we can par­tic­i­pate in. These meets are all over North Amer­ica and the world. Peo­ple do not re­al­ize how se­ri­ous we take our train­ing,” says David Wall, age 61, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Amer­i­cas Games. “Win or lose, I al­ways still be­lieve I have some PB’s left in me.”

“When I emailed The Grey­hounds coach, he asked how old I was,” re­mem­bers Cindy O’Brien Hugh, now 58, who com­petes in the 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump, high jump and re­lays. “I re­sponded that I was 56 and he said it would be great to have an­other “younger” woman – I liked him right away.”

Mem­bers credit their world class coaches Sam Walker and Harold Mo­rioka as pa­tient and wise be­yond mea­sure – even though their work­outs are of­ten cursed by the ath­letes. Mo­rioka, the club’s founder, was in­ducted into the B.C. Ath­let­ics Hall of Fame in 2016. Now 73, Mo­rioka was crowned the fastest man in B.C. when he was in his 30s. Com­pet­ing in the 46- to 49-year-old mas­ters cir­cuit, he ran the 400m in 50.60 sec­onds and broke the world record in the 100m at 11.11 sec­onds. At age 50, he set three world records in the in­door 60m, 200m and 400m races at the U.S. Na­tion­als.

Mo­rioka’s drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion are com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tics among The Grey­hounds.

“As a mas­ter, I am still very com­pet­i­tive, not so much against run­ners but more so with my­self. Suc­cess to me is see­ing the re­sults of all our hard train­ing,” says Elaine Whid­den, age 62, who set the Cana­dian record in the 4x100m among other B.C. records.

Urith Hay­ley, 66, club pres­i­dent, joined af­ter she read about a cou­ple of Grey­hounds who took up track and field dur­ing their re­tire­ment. “I am run­ning as fast now as I did 10 years ago when, the­o­ret­i­cally, I should be slow­ing down,” said Hay­ley, who also dis­trib­utes the un­of­fi­cial an­nual Face Plant Award, which rec­og­nizes the best fall in com­pe­ti­tion. It was named af­ter a 400m com­peti­tor who crawled across the fin­ish line af­ter go­ing too fast out of the gate.

Jokes aside, in­jury is a ma­jor con­cern, so club mem­bers en­sure re­cov­ery is part of their reg­i­men. Train­ing means be­ing a lit­tle more con­scious of things your body tells you and tak­ing bet­ter care of your­self, adds O’Brien Hugh.

At this time, re­searchers say ex­er­cise is the only ev­i­dence-backed ac­tiv­ity t hat gen­er­ates new cells in the brain. With smart train­ing, these mas­ters are guard­ing against the pro­jected symp­toms of old age while fight­ing stereo­types.

“Track keeps me grow­ing as a per­son. Try run­ning a 400m – this race is the hard­est ath­letic en­deav­our I have ever done,” says Wall. “It is a metaphor on life, I can­not give up even though the lac­tic acid is burn­ing up my legs and arms are hurt­ing…I must con­tinue on. I hate this race!” Ta­nia Haas is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Cana­dian Run­ning. She lives, works and runs in Toronto.


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