The weather was perfect for the final day of the Vancouver 2011 Outgames track and field competition at UBC’s Dhillon Track & Field Oval. Approximately 90 athletes have run the UBC course since yesterday’s opening.
Friday started with the much-anticipated 5000m race, followed by an afternoon of club rivalries for the 4 X 200m and the 4 X 400m relays.
“It is like the Yankees versus the Mariners; that’s nice to see,” says official scorekeeper and race supervisor Iain Fisher. Fisher has been on hand for both days of racing and says the level of athleticism and sportsmanship has been great.
About 20 athletes ran Friday’s gruelling 5000m, with all genders and ages running concurrently. The top male runner was San Francisco Front Runner Koji Kawano, 46, clocking a cool 18.36.07 for the five kilometres.
“It was tough, but I try to keep up with my pace. Every race I run, I try to go for my personal best,” Kawano said after the race.
Ingrid Berger, 67, inspired the crowd with a solid 35.34.03 for the 5km.
“What really impresses me is how all the athletes support each other. There is a real camaraderie here which you don’t see at other track meets,” Fisher says.
Track events have been the source of many inspirational moments during these games, including 86-year-old Len Tritsch’s world-record-setting time in the 100m at UBC yesterday.
“My goal coming here was to break the American standard for people 86 and older. The record was 23 seconds, and I ran my race in 20.1 seconds. So that’s very, very good. I really feel very proud of that,” he says.
Tritsch is one of Seattle Front Runner’s 28-person team participating in this year’s track events. Gay and lesbian teams from Vancouver, San Francisco and New York have also come out in large numbers to compete.
“We did a run with the Vancouver Front Runners yesterday along the water. It was a fun run, a lot of fun,” says New York Front Runner Alison McKenna, who says she travelled to these Outgames for the pleasure of participating.