While my friends were weathering the heat in nearby road and trail races and even an Ironman, I was assisting aging athletes who proved you’re never too old to compete.
The event was the Chuck McMahon Masters Meet at Cal State-San Marcos. Beautiful track. Beautiful day, if you discount the raging heat. And beautiful people, truly.
These were former high school and collegiate stars and even current world-record holders who continue to display the spirit, if not quite the physique, of their glory days. Many were in their 60s, 70s and even 80s. There also were triathletes using the events for training and at least one Para-Olympian javelin thrower with quite a story to tell. And, truth be told, most were a lot faster than I’ll ever be.
I primarily worked registration, which unlike road races is an all-day assignment. People often arrive early to do one or two events, then add on competitions as the spirit moves them. Occasionally I got up to shoot some photos, some of which I’ll share here.
Here’s the thing that stood out most, and maybe it was just me, but the entire 7 hours that I was on site, I did not hear one complaint. No one groused about the weather, which was definitely a factor. (Some, in fact, thought it was great preparation for another big track meet next weekend in Sacramento.) No one groaned to me about glitches, which are always present in any multi-field event. Everyone seemed to just enjoy the opportunities provided, whether to meet someone or someplace new, take on a local rival or grab a few medals before being on their way.
Maybe it’s because these athletes are masters and have mellowed. If you were to witness the popular 100m dashes, though, you would know they are still intense about training and competing. They just don’t care to trash each other or event organizers, which has unfortunately become commonplace in much more expensive road races and triathlons. Maybe these folks remember what it was like in their youth and are grateful for how much better the amenities are now, not to mention the ability to continue participating. I definitely learned a lot today just by listening to the track's elders.