More than 500 track and field athletes from North America, Central America and the Caribbean will converge on Saint John this week for an international masters track and field championship meet.
The four-day event officially starts Thursday at 9 a.m. with the 5000-metre race walk, followed by the men’s and women’s pentathlon, a competition which features five different events, including the 100-metre hurdles, shot put, high jump, long jump and the 800-metre race.
Organizers are also hosting a reception Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. to welcome early arrivals at Market Square.
“We had a goal of hitting 500 participants and we exceeded that so we’re really excited,” said Bill MacMackin, the meet director and chief flagbearer for the Saint John Track Club.
The Canadian Masters Championship will also be taking place in conjunction with the North, Central American and Caribbean World Masters Athletics (NCCWMA), the governing body for the event.
“The total participation of Canadians makes it probably the largest Canadian championship in recent years,” he said, adding that 75 Saint John athletes will be participating.
In total, 533 athletes have registered to take part in 11 track events, 10 field events and three road and trail events.
The events are open to anyone 30 or older and no qualification standards are required to compete.
Athletes ages for this year’s event range from 30 to 93-years-old, MacMackin said.
The events are being held at the Canada Games Stadium from 9 to 5 p.m. each day, except for Friday which will run events from noon to five and then again from 7 to 9 p.m.
Admission is free for all events.
“There is no admission, so we encourage people who are interested in track to come out,” said MacMackin who is participating in the 400m, 800m and 1500m track events.
The event has cost about $250,000, including a $100,000 investment for new equipment and upgrades to the facility, MacMackin said.
“About a third of that has come from the province, a third from sponsors and a little more than a third from the actual participants,” he said.
“The calculations are that there is a three or four million dollar economic impact to the tourism sector over the next few days.”
There will not be any medal presentations nor will there be a closing ceremony as many participants will likely leave after their event is finished.