The 55+ B.C. Games are always a major focus of training leading up to the competition for Vern and Karen Shook of Chemainus.
The track and field specialists were in Vernon last week as part of the Zone 1 team. They had planned to enter a full slate of events again this year, but their participation was limited due to illness.
Karen, 67, is now right in the middle of the 65-69-year-old age group. She picked up a gold medal as part of the Zone 1 4×100 metre relay, claimed silver in the 50 metres and placed fourth in both the 100 and 200 metres.
“I’ve never won the 50 before,” she pointed out. “I’m up in the top three or four with my events.”
“There’s a couple of gifted runners she’s up against every year,” added Vern.
“I was really happy with my times and I had competition,” said Karen. “That’s the key.”
She ran the 50 metres in 9.2 seconds, the 100 in 16.8 and the 200 in 36.9, “not as good as I wanted, but fairly close,” she said.
“I love to train. I love to work out. The icing on the cake is to compete.”
Vern, 75, still managed to race the 50 and 100, but “I didn’t do it up to snuff. I did the 100 and I was on my back the rest of the day.”
His intention of completing the weight pentathlon was derailed by illness and he only managed to do the hammer throw, having to opt out of the other throwing events – the weights, shot put, discus and javelin.
“As it happened, I wasn’t strong enough,” Vern indicated.
He had just moved into a new category, 75-79-year-old men, and had expected to collect a few medals as one of the younger members in that group.
“When I turned 70, no one could touch me,” he recalled of a similar experience when he started a new age group five years ago.
The relay was a great experience for Karen where she joined forces with another Chemainus athlete, Nola Hendrie, for the gold. There was only one other Zone 1 member on the team, however, with all of Victoria to draw from and a Zone 2 runner had to be added.
“That’s kind of disappointing,” conceded Karen. “We didn’t have enough (from the Zone) to do a relay.”
The team ended up with Karen at 67, Nola at 60 and combined with a 70- and 80-year-old in the 60-65 division.
The Shooks actually started out as road runners before moving into track and field.
“The Senior Games are what got us into track and field,” explained Vern.
“The Games are good,” Karen noted. “They’re a great thing to do.”
The Shooks have been to the Games many times over the years and have a bucketload of medals to show for their efforts. Vern also competed in golf during the early years before focusing solely on track.
“There’s every sport you’ve ever been interested in is there,” noted Karen of the growing Games slate that now includes pickleball and even equestrian events.
“It was really inspiring there this year,” she added.
There was one fellow in his 80s with a knee brace and a walker, but it didn’t stop him from competing.
“He didn’t use his sore knees as an excuse not to get up and do it,” Karen noted.
“Use it or lose it.”
The Shooks use it a lot during the year at a variety of different track meets.
“We do the Island track series, the high school series, and run with the kids,” explained Karen.
They always pick out a couple of events on the Mainland to enter such as the Trevor Craven meet and B.C. Masters in Langley this year, and one major event as time allows.
Next year, it’s the Canadian Masters in Surrey that means they’ll probably have to skip the next 55+ B.C. Games in Kimberley with the dates falling so close to one another.
“It doesn’t always come west,” noted Vern, so going into the Canadian Masters is a no-brainer for them.
The Shooks had high praise for the organization of the Games in Vernon.
“The track is brand new – beautiful – and it was an excellently-run track meet,” said Karen.
“The volunteers were fantastic. We couldn’t say enough about it.”
The Shooks make the most of their time for a healthy lifestyle and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Having that goal at the end keeps us healthy, fit, away from doctors,” Karen stressed.