EIGHTY-FOUR-YEAR-OLD Jim Jones from Torere is someone who doesn’t sit round and relax very much.
A couple of years ago he took up running after a very long break, and found that he still had the determination and ability.
“I used to do track and field when I was at high school and at younger male level. I won the Waikato half mile title in 1957. Funnily enough, the guy I beat was named Ron Jones from Whakatane – no relation but he was a very accomplished runner. That was 63 years ago.
“I was a school teacher most of my time and that meant I moved around the country for promotion and what have you and I just gave the running away.
“It’s only just recently that I thought I might just have a bit of a go and start up again.”
His first race was at the World Masters Games in Auckland in 2017 and his knee blew up, which put paid to any further competition in that event or for the rest of the season.
“So last year was my first season back, and I went to the national masters and won the 400 metres and long jump and got second in the 100m and the 60m, and the shot put, of all things.
“Then I did the North Island masters 200 and 400 metres and was second in the 60 metres.
“I went down to the nationals in Timaru in March and picked up four gold medals – 60, 100, 400 metres and long jump, so I was doing okay.
“Then I thought I’d go over to the Australian masters and see if I could give them a kick up the bum – I got kicked up the bum,” he laughed.
“I was thoroughly outclassed. The first three Aussies were a good second faster than I was over the 60 metres; I was never a sprinter, so I wasn’t surprised.
“However, I got two silvers; in the 400 metres and 800 metres.”
There is a bit of a funny story to that race. Being a Kiwi racing in Australia, Jones seemed to end up on the outside lane, which meant because of the bends he was always in front and he couldn’t see how he was doing.
“However, when I was able to move across the field after about 150 metres, I found myself running behind a little bloke who was scooting along and he had a strange gait – his legs didn’t go forward and back, they shot out the sides.
“He was in front and I thought I’d just wait for him to tire and then I’d take him on. Well, he didn’t tire so I got the silver.
“I later found out that he was from West Australia and he had been a gold medallist and world record holder at the world masters, so I did pretty well, I thought.”
He said running at the top end of his 80 to 85 years age group means the young upstarts who have just turned 80 have quite an advantage.
“The thing about it is that I turn 85 in November.
“After then I’ll become the baby in the 85 to 89 group and that should be quite interesting.”
However, life is not all plain sailing for Jones.
He has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, which cannot be cured, and he’s not at all sure just how many more races he will be able to achieve.
“You can look at these things two ways,” he said.
“You can either have a positive attitude or a negative attitude and play the victim, or just get on with life – and I’m just getting on with life.”
Getting on with life means competing in the Oceania nationals in Queensland in August, the North Islands in Hamilton in November, the NZ champs in Hastings in February and then the worlds in Canada.
“If I’m still well enough, I’ll go to Canada. I’ve got a sister over there and it would be good to impress her.”