History of World Masters Athletics

The story of Veteran Athletics began at grass roots level with middle-aged men and women striving to relive the enjoyment and good health bestowed by physical fitness. The earliest Veteran competitors were mainly road-runners, although some very long-standing records were set by sprinters, jumpers and throwers (M40 Don Finlay (GBR) hurdles 14.4 seconds in 1949; M40 Egon Nillson (SWE) high jump, 2.05 m in 1966; M55 Karl Hein (FRG) hammer 52.01 m in 1964).

To recognise the desire of burgeoning numbers of these runners to compete at their own age level, the Interessen-Gemeinschaft C384lterer LangstreckenlC3A4ufer (IGC384L) was formed in 1968 and held its inaugural Marathon Championships in Holland. Pioneers of IGC384L were Arthur Lainbert, Meinrad NC3A4gele, Dr Ernst van Aaken of Germany and Jacques Serruys of Belgium.In the meantime, apparently quite independent of the Road-Runners movement, veteran athletes in many countries were forming organizations.

In 1965 a leading USA track coach, Bill Bowerman, upon a visit to New Zealand, was invited by a group of “over 40” runners to take part in a local “jog”. He discovered that running was a way of life in New Zealand. Upon his return his published revelations led to the formation of the USA Masters Track and Field Team by San Diego Attorney David Pain.

After the 1972 Olympics at Munich, David and Helen Pain, together with a group of American Masters and groups from Australia and Canada competed in the first truly International Veteran Track and Field meet at Crystal Palace, London, organised by Woodford Green AC. Following this the group visited other European Countries. Everywhere, the tour touched off tremendous enthusiasm and lasting fellowship.