Numbers count for Master runners

Springvale-Noble Park Masters Athletics members Alan Bennie, Tony Doran, Kevin Onley, Mick Colgan, Tony Johnson, Mike Hall and Sayed Khatab. 200784_05 Picture: CAM LUCADOU-WELLS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

The 40 year history of Springvale-Noble Park’s Masters Athletics Club is tabulated in numbers.

On a Wednesday night, some of the club’s durable runners study the neat handwritten table of club records.

The table spans all race distances and age divisions from 35 years up to the astonishing 95-year-old legend Jim Sinclair.

Looking across the table, Sinclair’s club records span at least the past decade. His times have only slightly slowed.

Sinclair holds several Australian records in the 90-94-year-old division. Now just turned 95, he has the chance to set a few in his more senior division.

For this reason, many runners at the club actually look forward to ageing – and going up to an “easier” division, says member Claudio Riga.

They also jealously treasure the records they hold.

“It’s not like you can go back an age group to defend it,” Riga said.

Another hallowed name is Theresa Baird who once set an age world-record for the 5000 metres at the club’s track at Ross Reserve.

Michael Hall recently scooped the men’s 80-84-year-old category with gold in the 80 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres – and quite staggeringly, the pole vault.

“We just try to eat the right things and keep coming every week,” he says.

Celia Johnson, a recreational walker, has held Australian record for 10-kilometres and 20-kilometres.

Established in 1979, the club is among the first Masters athletics clubs in Victoria. It is celebrating its 40th anniversary on 27 November.

Some of its members have been running in its ranks for nearly its entire 40 year history like Kevin Onley and Mick Colgan.

“It’s an addiction,” said Colgan, a former long-distance runner who is recovering from a heart-stent operation.

“Everyone misses it over Christmas and is relieved to be back.”

Colgan is confining himself to firing the starter’s gun for the 4-kilometre run and 2500-metre walk on Memorial Drive.

He’s looking forward to getting back on the track.

“It gives you something to aim for.”


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