For people who grew up playing soccer, baseball, or basketball there are usually plenty of opportunities to continue these sports through adulthood. Think intramural or office soccer clubs, church softball leagues, and neighborhood pickup basketball games.
If you were a hurdler or other track and field athlete in high school, though, you may assume that your days of competing ended with graduation. Sure, you can do 5k races and marathons but that’s a huge distance leap if you were a sprinter – and not at all related to your sport if you were a javelin thrower or pole vaulter. So it’s not surprising that many track and field athletes never compete in their sport again.
Masters track and field: 101
Masters track and field involves the same events you remember from high school or watch during the Olympic Games. The only difference is masters track and field is for men and women from age 30 – 95+, and consists of beginners and seasoned athletes alike.
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, the USA track and field masters organization says joining a master’s track and field club may be for you:
· Are you looking for a way to get fit or lose weight?
· Do you enjoy watching track and field events on television?
· Did you participate in track and field as a child and miss it?
· Do you want to renew your competitive spirit?
To participate in masters track and field, you need to join a local club. Through the club membership, you’ll gain access to group training and coaching, facilities, and track meets. During meets, you’ll compete against other athletes your age – just like you did in high school. Every year, the best athletes from all masters track and field clubs in the U.S. go on to compete in the USA Masters Track & Field Championships.
There are a host of events to choose from — some are only offered during indoor or outdoor track season, while others are offered during both seasons. Many athletes compete in more than one of the following events:
· Sprints: 60m, 100m, 200m, and 400m dashes
· Middle-distance: 800m and 1500m
· Long-distance: 5000m and 10,000m
· Hurdles: 60m, 100m, 110m, and 400m hurdles and 3000m steeplechase
· Relays: 4x100m and 4x400m relays
· Jumps: Long jump, high jump, triple jump, and pole vault
· Throws: Shot put, discus throw, javelin throw, and hammer throw
· Combined events:
– Pentathlon: 800m, 60m hurdles, long jump, high jump, and shot put.
– Heptathlon: 60m, 1000m, 60m hurdles, long jump, high jump, pole vault, and shot put.
– Decathlon: 100m, 400m, 1500m, 110m hurdles, long jump, high jump, pole vault, shot put, discus throw, and javelin throw.
How to get involved
There are local masters track and field clubs all around the country. To find one in your area, check out the USA Track & Field’s (USATF) website.
Try not to feel intimidated if you’ve never done track and field before or if it’s been a few decades since you last competed. Many masters track and field athletes are first timers looking to participate in a fun hobby, just like you. If you’re still on the fence about joining a club, spectate a meet in person. It may be just the motivation you need to dust off your old track spikes!