The National Masters Track and Field Championships took place on a sweltering sun-drenched Tullamore Harriers track on Saturday 13th August. The club had three athletes competing on the day Hazel Galloway in the 100m and 200m over 65, Noel Howley in the over 70s 800m and 5,000m and John Laste in the 5,000m over 55 Race Walk. First up was Hazel Galloway who stormed out of the blocks and never looked back as she romped to a convincing win in the 100m to take the title in 16.81 secs.
Later in the day she competed in the 200m. Here in the final, she again got a brilliant start out of the blocks and put in a tremendous effort around the final bend, which saw her open a very commanding lead all the way to the line to win in a very good time of 37.98 secs considering the intense heat that was there. These were two brilliant performances by Hazel who has nursed herself back to full fitness having spent a long period of the past year injured. Hazel has consistently performed and excelled at this level for many years and totally deserves the title of the fastest female master in the country at her age category.
Next up we had John Laste competing in the masters over 55 5,000m race walk. There were 16 walkers who took to the line this year, one of the biggest fields for a good number of years. Conditions were extremely hot with officials deciding to have a water station on the track for the competitors. John being aware of his competition in the race decided to settle in for the first few laps, he then made a move to get out in front of them as they approached the mile mark. At this point he was comfortable with his technique and drove on pushing through 3k in 17 mins 10 secs. With an unassailable lead he eased to the line in a time of 29 mins 53 secs to retain the National title he took for the first-time last year.
Our third competitor at these championships was Noel Howley who had the arduous task of competing in all the middle-distance events. No mean feat for a man in the over 70 category. I am certain Noel was not ever anticipating the extreme weather conditions when he entered these events. Noel 1st event was the 800m final over 70. Here Noel put in a great effort especially over the final 300m when finishing 5th in 3 mins 25.50 secs. Then about two hours later he competed in the 5000m race in what were very warm conditions. Noel once again ran a great race when finishing 5th in 26 mins 26.55 secs.
Hazel and John could not let the day go by without remembering their dear friend, training buddy and Club mate Bernard “Pinky” O’Neill who was due to compete at this masters event. A club singlet was place on a lane before the start of the race he would have lined up in. Our sincere thanks to Athletics Ireland and Irish Masters officials and athletes for allowing us to pay tribute to Pinky.