Sunday, January 07, 2018

2018 Australian Masters Decathlon

This weekend, the Australian Masters Multi event championships were held here in Bendigo, along with the Victorian championships.  For men, this means a decathlon, consisting of 10 events over 2 days as follows:

Day 1.
100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m.
Day 2
110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m.

With a forecast maximum of 43C, day 1 started early at 8:30AM with the 100m.  The slow times of the summer continued with 13.56 in ideal conditions, which scored 538 points, the highest score I got from any event.  We moved pretty quickly to the long jump.  This time, I had a lot of trouble with my run up, resulting in the first 2 attempts being no jumps.  I managed 3.59 in a conservative final jump, which scored 229 points.

After a short break, where I took the time to apply sunscreen, it was over to the shot put.  I haven’t competed in shot put since last season due to a scheduling clash with the long jump at regular meets this season. wasn’t expecting any miracles, but was satisfied with a 5.62m throw that resulted in another 293 points.  Next was an event I haven’t done since high school, more than 30 years ago - the high jump.  After some experimentation during warmup, I decided to start out with a 1.20m bar height and eventually was able to clear 1.29m, and only just missed out on making 1.32m.  The 1.29m jump resulted in another 331 points.

The last event for day 1 was the 400m.  By this time - 11:30AM, the temperature was at least 35C with a gusty NW wind that made the back straight and especially the second bend tough.  I finished in 1:05.36 and scored 442 points.  My day 1 total score was 1833 points.  After we finished, I headed off to a local swimming poll for some light recovery work and a break from the heat..

Overnight there was a (sort of) cool change, so day 2 would be a bit less extreme.  First up, at 9AM were the hurdles.  I had a little practice a few weeks ago, but struggled to clear a single 84cm hurdle.  Today, I needed to hurdle 99cm 10 times.  Taking some experience from my long and high jump, I decided to swap my lead foot, so my stronger (right) foot could be used to take off for each hurdle.  Still, I wasn’t sure if that would be enough and seriously considered pulling out immediately after starting, which would result in a DNF (Did Not Finish) and a score of 0, but allow me to continue.  However, when the gun went off, I got a good start, and by the time I could look up, there was a hurdle right in front of me, with no chance of pulling up.  So it was a case of take a leap of faith and hope for the best.  I cleared the first hurdle easily and decided to try the second.  Again, I cleared this one and at that point, decided to complete the race.  I cleared all of the rest of the hurdles, except one which I clipped, but didn’t knock over.  My time was 28.37, enough to score 34 points that I wasn’t counting on!

We moved quickly to the discus.  Tried working on my technique, which backfired.  The first throw was a disappointing 15.32m, the second a no throw and the third shorter than the first.  I scored 243 points.  Now it was time to put last week’s pole vault training into practice.  After a shaky warmup, I opted for a low grip on the pole and start at 1.20m.  Worked my way up to 1.5m, before missing 1.6m.  Scored another 89 points.

The 9th event and final field event was the javelin.  I have been rapidly improving in recent weeks, and today was no exception.  Opted to play it safe and use a standing technique for my first throw, resulting in a new PB of 18.70m.  Second throw was not far behind at 18.53.  With 3 good throws in the bag, I decided to try a short run up for my third throw, but my coordination issues got the better of me, and the throw was short.  The first throw was worth 187 points.  The final event was my least favourite, but for some reason seems to be a good points scorer, the 1500m.  In the warm (around 30C), windy conditions I ran 6:14.78, which scored 342 points.  My day 2 score was 895 points, resulting in a total of 2728 points.

Because 3 of the original 5 entrants in my age group pulled out before the meet, that meant I was able to claim silver for both the Victorian and Australian Masters championship in the 45-49 age group.  A bonus I didn’t expect before yesterday.

After the presentations, most of the athletes from all age groups met at a local coffee shop for a chat over coffee and lunch.  The decathlon is like a journey that we all shared together, and it was fitting to meet up and share our experiences afterwards.  I’m looking forward to the next time I am able to compete in a decathlon.  I likened the decathlon to a marathon (which I did run 10 years ago) - a challenge that is rewarding to simply complete.  I was particularly pleased to score in all 10 events, something I wasn’t sure I would manage.

I’m also keen to work on my hurdles, pole vault and throws during the next year.  As I turn 50 in a few months, the hurdles get a little lower and closer together, while the throwing implements get lighter and smaller for my next attempt.

- Tony via Tumblr

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