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 . . where few my age have gone before. 

Every so often something happens in my life which inspires me. Last weekend such a thing happened. I took part in, and did tolerably well at, an icosathlon (from the Greek icos = 20, athlon = contest). Like decathlon, you know, Daley Thompson in the Olympics, all those years ago,  only this is 20 events. Unfortunately for the world what this inspires me to is vanity and dire prose.

So what has inspired me.

1) Camarederie - two clubmates from our local athlon club also attended the event. Like the three musketeers? And dozens of foreigners also took part - it was the European championships, after all - all of whom wanted all of the others to do well. And volunteers took on the role of organising and conducting the competition, all of whom wanted it all to go well. One for all, and all for one.

2) Competition - definitely some of this. It is certainly true that collectively everyone wants everyone else to do well. It's just that each of us individually wants to do better than well.

3) Comfort - the venue was the Cambridge University Athletics Track. The recommended accommodation was the Churchill College Halls of Residence. It is only right that our brightest and best students should be able to study, relax and recreate in the finest of circumstances. And just for this weekend I got to enjoy those facilities too.

But most inspiring (awesome?) of all was the fact that everyone did well.

These athletics athlons are scored according to a points system. A standard is chosen - it might be the world record on some given day - and accorded 1000 points. Any competitor's performance is then measured against this standard. Match it and score 1000 points. Better it and score more, don't quite get up there and score less. Each event has its points allocation, so it may be that competitor A runs very fast over short distances, while competitor B doesn't but throws things a very long way. Over 20 events it sort of evens out. And so that all ages can be compared, an old man's 100 meter time (for example) is multiplied by a number less than 1,  while his hammer throw distance (for another example) is multiplied by a number more than one. In effect as you get older the metres get shorter, and the seconds get longer. If the actuaries have got it right, it's a level playing field, year for year, event for event.

So as to doing tolerably well.

One of my clubmates was a young lady, Lauren, who got no allowance for age. She took part in the tetradecathlon (fourteen events) and scored 4,063 points. I'd like to be able to put that in a broader context, perhaps in world rankings, but some of the links to the records are missing. In the personal context of her own performance, I am in awe. It takes a lot of courage to turn out for one of these things for the first time , and then to compete well in all the events, including some most people have never heard of , represents a definite huge success.

Tony is in the M50 age group, so he does get some allowance for age. He scored 9,389 points in his 20 events, which makes him the current European Silver medallist and according to this list (not yet updated), 15th in the world M50 all time rankings. 

And finally, vanity runs riot. The event I was in was an absolute stonker. There were three of us M65s (men between the ages of 65 and 69 inclusive). Courageous, determined competitors (/silly old buggers?). Myself , Reinhardt and Jorg. And all three of us had really good days. Reinhardt achieved five huge world bests, for athletes competing in the icosathlon, in the 1500m. 3000m , 3000m steeplechase , 5000m and 10,000m (he is a long distance runner). The graphic below contains this data and I've made a spreadsheet of the top performances in the M65 category. Jorg set a world best for the long jump and broke the old world record for M65 icosathlon. And I beat Jorg, with 6 world bests of my own.

So, in this very limited field of endeavour , which few 65 year olds have ventured into, I'm a world record holder. As more M65s venture this way, I'm revelling in it, because it won't last for long. Already, as soon as October 7th, Brant Tolsma is planning to break the record

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Tags: athletics, icosathlon

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