by Max Jones

first published in May 1998 Striders News

Need Motivating? - the Championships of the World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA) are coming to our back yard.

The 13th WAVA Games will be staged in Gateshead from July 29 to August 8, 1999. It's the first time the UK has succeeded in bidding for the event and, probably, it won't be held here for another 20 or so years, either.

They are held every two years and cover the full range of Olympic events, plus the women's steeplechase and hammer. The last time the WAVA games was in Europe - in Turku, Finland - two Valley Striders went, and young George (Black not Dawson) came home with a gold medal for being 2nd counter in the 3-man GBR M50 team in the marathon.

One of my American coachees, also a Scot named George, was telling me a few weeks ago that he's looking to me, not for technical advice, but for motivation. That may be partly because his event is the steeplechase, about which the only thing I know is that its an event which should not be attempted, not even once. I did that shortly after leaving University when a mate of mine and I decided we'd never be quick enough to beat the likes of our Oxbridge contemporaries, Bannister and Chataway, in the 1500m or 5000m flat, so we'd go for what appeared to be, in 1998 not 1948 language, a gap in the market. I ran in the 3000m steeple in the Midland Counties Championships and I've never been so exhausted after a race in all my life! Given a choice, I'd rather go for another 118 miles in 24 hours rather than a 3000m steeplechase! My friend Chris did not fall at that first hurdle, figuratively speaking, but persevered with that morale-destroying event until he'd won a gold medal, also in a World Games of a sort, in Melbourne in 1956. Which, inter alia, bestowed on him the status and prestige which enabled him to invent the London Marathon 25 years later and, after 17 more Londons, me to have the status, together with 40 others, of an Ever Present (without, I should add, ever once having to appeal to young Brasher himself to get a running number when, on two separate occasions, the computer rejected my application). But I digress.

Entry into the WAVA Games, unlike the Olympics, depends not on stopwatch but on calendar timing. Selection is based entirely on when you chose to be born and having a birth certificate to prove it, i.e. women born on or before July 29 1964; men born on or before July 29 1959. Anyone so qualifying can join in, although WAVA insists that all entries are routed through national associations. In the UK, that's through the British Veterans' Athletic Federation, the BVAF which, in turn, obliges potential entrants to be members of one of the Regional Associations, i.e. Northern Vets for us (Yorkshire Vets is not regarded as being "Regional").

All WAVA Championship events are organised in the regular 5-year age groups and Championship medals are awarded to the first 3 in each age group in each event, regardless of the actual time, height or distance achieved. Somewhat controversially, this rule applies even if there's only one competitor in the age group in an event : there have been calls, mainly from ex full internationals, for, say, there to be a cut-off at some, not very high, percentage derived from the WAVA Age Graded Tables, but the original rule survives.

There is, however, one more hurdle to surmount. You have to pay your own way to compete in the WAVA World Veterans' Championships : the Games, in effect, are the World Championships of those Veterans Who Can Afford It. So that's the link between Gateshead and Motivation : it's a lot more expensivc to travel 10000 miles to Brisbane than 100 miles to Tyneside.

To grasp this, perhaps once in a lifetime, opportunity if winning a World Championship medal, choose your event(s) now and start preparing for WAVA XIII in Gateshead : entries will close next April. I have the programme for WAVA XII if anyone wants to see where, then, the entries were thinnest (e.g. M45 track 10k 122 entries, M45 x-country 44, W45 10k 3(!), W45 x-country 41)

In 2001, its down under to Brisbane, Australia, which, of course, is nowhere near our back yard.

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Created by Bob Jackson eMail
Created on 24 June 1998