It is well known that sport has positive physical and mental health benefits at all ages. While sport drop out is common during the teenage years, many athletes decrease sport involvement (at all levels of sport, from recreational to elite) during the transition to university. Further, for athletes that compete during university years, the drop out often occurs after years of eligibility max out (which is typically upon graduation). Adulthood is filled with life transitions that may put adults at risk of mental health concerns (like finding a job, starting a family, etc.) [and seemingly limit the time to participate in physical activity].
A common cause of drop out is a lack of access to sport programs, which includes the lack of awareness for what is available in the community, and the lack of awareness of what resources are available. So, what options are out there to keep your body moving during the adult years?
One option is Masters athletics.
History of Masters Athletics
Worldwide, the most common identified age requirement to be classified as a Masters athlete is anyone over 35 years of age. Masters Sport opportunities include a range of summer and winter sports, ranging from archery and netball to biathlon and ice hockey. Masters Athletics includes both track and field (e.g., 400m run or shotput) or athletics (e.g., road races or cross country). The Masters Athletics world championships have been around since the 1970s, however, Masters Athletics has gained a large amount of traction and popularity in recent years alongside the push for older adults to stay active throughout the aging process. Currently, there are 50+ countries, globally, participating in and hosting events in Masters sport.
Ontario Masters Athletics
In Ontario, Masters Athletics is available for individuals over 30 who want to compete in track and field or athletics. Masters Athletics are open to individuals of all fitness levels in an environment that is a mix of both ‘for fun’ and competitive. You do not need previous experience to participate. Within competitions, Masters athletes are grouped based on age (5-year intervals). Options for competitions include indoor and outdoor track and field events, road races, and cross country races. Masters athletes can compete as a member of a run group (coach led), or as a an ‘unattached athlete’ (an athlete that is not affiliated with a club). One well known Masters Athletics run group in Toronto is the University of Toronto Track Club Masters. The UTTC Masters train twice per week at the University of Toronto. Information about how to join can be found at: https://uttcmasters.com/join-us/.
The 50th Annual Ontario Masters Championships will be on August 6 and 7th, 2022 at the Toronto Track and Field Centre. The Meet Director is Doug Smith ([email protected]), and the Meet Manager is Randolph Fajardo. A tentative schedule of all track and field events included is posted on the Ontario Masters website at: https://ontariomasters.ca/competitions/ontario-masters-championships/.
Note: There is a fee associated with registering to be a competitive or non-competitive (recreational) athlete with Ontario Masters Athletics, as well as to be an official or a coach. Prices are listed on the Ontario Masters website linked above.