Judy Warick competes in the World Masters Athletics Championships.

Canadian Masters Track and Field Championships creates level playing field for athletes

When Judy Warick lines up to race the 2,000m steeplechase at the Canadian Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships later this month, she knows the women’s 70-75 age group national record will be tough to break.

The existing mark is 11:40.95 — a time Warick knows well because it’s the record she set in 2019 shortly after she turned 70.

“Now I’m older and I’m still in that age group so I think it would be difficult to break, but I’m going to try my best,” says Warick, who’s now 73.

Warick is one of dozens of athletes expected to compete at this year’s Canadian Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships happening July 29-31 at Regina’s Canada Games Athletic Complex. The annual event is open to anyone aged 30 and over with athletes competing in five-year age groups. No qualification standard is required.

This will be Warick’s fifth or sixth time competing at the national championships — “I can’t remember when I started,” she admits — and she encourages people to register or at least show up as a spectator to see what the event is all about.

“A lot of people who don’t think they are ready for it, they watch and see that there are people who are just coming to do this for fun and aren’t high-level athletes and are competing right alongside others who are more competitive,” Warick says. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, I could have kept up to that person or thrown as far as that person.’ And then they think about participating next year.”

Warick says some people worry about feeling conspicuous at a track and field meet because it can seem like everyone is watching them. But seeing the positive and supportive atmosphere for all competitors helps alleviate those fears. For people who are still apprehensive, Warick encourages them to sign up with a friend or two. She remembers a previous masters championships when more than 20 members of the Brainsport run club signed up and competed together, including on team relays. “We ran against each other and it was fun,” she recalls.

For most of the year, masters athletes in Saskatchewan compete against younger competitors including university and high school students (earlier this year Warick even raced against her 15-year-old granddaughter at the Saskatoon Field House). That’s why events like the masters championships — where everyone competes against people in their own age group — are so special and accessible.

“It motivates people. Some people are hesitant to run against people who will lap them. This is more of a level playing field,” Warick says.

For masters who want to try track and field, Warick recommends getting involved with the Saskatchewan Senior Fitness Association’s programs for athletes aged 55 and over or her own club, Top Notch Masters (formerly Century Track). Even those who don’t want to compete appreciate the group atmosphere and enjoy cheering or volunteering at events, Warick says.

The deadline for athletes to register for the masters championships is July 22 at 6 p.m. For more information and to register, visit the event website.

For more information on Top Notch Masters, contact Warick at judywarick@sasktel.net.