In two weeks the 55 plus B.C. Games will take place in Coquitlam, and Pat Harton is one of the Williams Lake athletes training hard in preparation. A track and cross country competitor in high school, and university cross country athlete, he has signed up for six running events at the Games.
“Just getting there and competing, I feel like I’m recapturing a bit of my youth. It’s like a high,” Harton said.
By the time the Games take place from Sept. 20-24, Harton will be 75 years old.
“I’ve signed up for the 10 kilometre road race, 5,000 metres, 1,500 metres, 800 metres, 400 metres and just for versatility the 50 metres,” he said. “I might do the four by 400 power walk relay.”
This will be Harton’s second time in the games; the first was in 2014.
“It was a thrill just to get there and compete; I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “I found out that those who were there were really good, and I came in sixth in two events. At that time I’d been back running for two and a half years; now I have two more years under my belt and that should help.
“Even though I was outclassed, I am very fortunate that I can run, and run competitively at 74 years old.”
He ran eight kilometres in the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May.
“There were 1,960 people in that race. I had never done it before and wanted to try. I came in 23rd in my age group,” he said.
“When I first heard about the Seniors Games, I started running again. I was really out of shape. My goal was the 2014 Games.
“When I started training I got into it slowly and used a common sense approach. When I train I listen to my body. I was pretty nervous: I hadn’t done a competition like that in years,” he added. ‘I got to the Games and once I focused on the race itself my nerves calmed down.”
He said everybody was friendly and they all had something in common. “You’re all runners: everybody understands the training involved,” he said, adding that there are more competitive women runners than ever.
“Training to run is hard work but it’s a little addictive,” he said. “Most of my training is on the treadmill. I listen to music on my iPad while I run 10 or 16 kilometres. Maybe I’ll win a medal or two at the Games; that would really make me happy, but there are no guarantees.”
This year at the Games Harton will be in the 75 to 79 age category.
“I’ll be one of the younger guys. I’d like to move up to a half marathon, 21 kilometres before it’s all over — that’s my goal by this time next year,” he noted.
A retired teacher who taught at Poplar Glade and Marie Sharpe Elementary schools, he started the cross country elementary school run in the School District during his third year of teaching in 1971.
“It’s my greatest satisfaction looking back,” he said. “I’m really proud of that.”