SMART55: Young at heart

Williams Lake’s Pat Harton runs the third leg during the men’s 75-79 4x800 metre relay race at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships held Aug. 8 in Surrey. (Photo submitted)Williams Lake’s Pat Harton runs the third leg during the men’s 75-79 4x800 metre relay race at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships held Aug. 8 in Surrey. (Photo submitted)
Piara Bhullar (from left) of Surrey, 75, Barrie Dargie of Sidney, 77, Mark Stewart of Campbell River, 77, and Pat Harton of Williams Lake, 79, pose proudly after setting a new Canadian record for 75-79 year olds in the 4x800 metre relay at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships in Surrey on Aug. 8. (Photo submitted)Piara Bhullar (from left) of Surrey, 75, Barrie Dargie of Sidney, 77, Mark Stewart of Campbell River, 77, and Pat Harton of Williams Lake, 79, pose proudly after setting a new Canadian record for 75-79 year olds in the 4x800 metre relay at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships in Surrey on Aug. 8. (Photo submitted)
Pat Harton of Williams Lake passes off the baton to his teammate and anchor in the men’s 75-79 4x800 metre relay at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships earlier this month. (Photo submitted)Pat Harton of Williams Lake passes off the baton to his teammate and anchor in the men’s 75-79 4x800 metre relay at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake’s Pat Harton runs the third leg during the men’s 75-79 4x800 metre relay race at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships held Aug. 8 in Surrey. (Photo submitted)Williams Lake’s Pat Harton runs the third leg during the men’s 75-79 4x800 metre relay race at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships held Aug. 8 in Surrey. (Photo submitted)

Williams Lake’s Pat Harton is breaking new ground in the track and field world.

The 80-year-old retired elementary school teacher is the proud new owner of a Canadian record.

Harton combined with three other teammates — 75-year-old Piara Bhullar of Surrey, 77-year-old Barrie Dargie of Sidney and 77-year-old Mark Stewart of Campbell River — to set the new national mark in the 75-79 age class for the four-by-800-metre relay race at the BC Masters Track and Field Championships held on Aug. 8 in Surrey.

The team decimated the previous record of 16:28.44 in a time of 12:27.30.

Harton, who has been training in long-distance running for the past nine years, began preparing for the event in April after he was asked to participate as a member of the team.

“When I found out I was on the team I was excited, but also apprehensive,” Harton said. “I didn’t want to let the team down: you know, pull a muscle, have a bad run, or drop the baton, but I had a good run and everything worked out well.”

Harton ran the third leg of the relay for the team, which he said boasted very strong masters runners, and was coached by well-known masters track and field world record holder Harold Morioka of Surrey.

“He gave us pointers leading up to the race like don’t overdo it near the end of training, to taper off, how to pass the baton, things like that,” Harton said.

READ MORE: Williams Lake athlete races to three golds at Canada 55-plus Games

“Everything went well and it’s something to be proud of.”

Harton started competing in track and field when he was in high school, and carried on to do track and field, along with cross country running, in university.

“But job commitments got in the way and I got into other things like curling, and I did golf quite a lot,” he said.

It wasn’t until 2012 when Harton discovered the BC 55-plus Games when he thought he’d take up running again, and has since amassed many gold medals at BC 55-plus Seniors Games, and several gold medals at the Canada 55-plus Games.

Harton and his teammates now have their sights set on a Canadian masters indoor track and field record in the same event, which they hope to achieve in the coming year once they can find a venue hosting the race.

In preparation for the BC Masters Track and Field Championships Harton said he did a lot of work walking up a steep hill behind his house and running on his treadmill at home.

READ MORE: Williams Lake well represented at 55+ BC Games

“I would run 800 metres as fast as I could go, which was up to 10 miles per hour on the treadmill,” he said.

He also took part in three virtual runs over the past year: the five kilometre Run for a Claus (December 2020) for underprivileged children in Orange County, CA., the 10-kilometre virtual Vancouver Sun Run in April and the eight-kilometre Vancouver Marathon in May.

“I’m always running but I started training harder once I found out about this team,” he said.

Harton said he runs for several reasons: a runner’s high, its many health benefits and it makes him feel younger.

“There’s potential to travel to compete, and meet interesting people,” he said. “And having some success (is nice).”


 


greg.sabatino@wltribune.com

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