In the third in our series of greatest races we feature world class masters athlete, Pam Graham.
In 1991 Pam represented New Zealand at the World Veterans’ Track and Field Championships.
The champs were in Turku, Finland and Pam was racing in the 1500m final for the W40 grade.
She had left a few weeks earlier as part of a NZ Veterans’ tour organised by Roy Skuse and his travel company in Gisborne.
“I was invited to join the tour by Kapiti running friends after I ran a sub 39 minute 10k in a local race.”
Pam’s tour began with a friendly preliminary competition in Singapore, held at a local track that would equal the best on any circuit. She says she ran 400m in “a modest 64”.
Then she was off to Birmingham for the British Veterans’ Track and Field Championships, where she marvelled at the times her UK peers were achieving.
“My own 1500 time was around 4:58, way back in 4th place.”
A week later Pam and her tour travelled to Turku. She was excited about competing at that level but awed by what she had seen so far on her travels.
She notes she was the fittest she had ever been, and had taken on some training in visualisation techniques.
“I would sit (or lie in bed) quieten my thoughts then try to focus on running the perfect 1500m; fast start to get into a good line position, cruise until the last 300, then pick up the pace again and bolt down the home straight.
It was effective – running that virtual race would often have my heart and pulse sky high!”
Pam entered the race without a specific goal time in mind, “just a willingness to give it everything”.
Pam stood on the startline with athletes from Russia, the USA, Denmark, Poland, Finland, Germany. And most prominent among them all was Australia’s Judy Daly who at one point held the masters 800m world record.
Daly won comfortably (4:37:43) nearly 6 seconds ahead of the next two place getters, Poland’s Krystyna Kacperczyk and Pam, both in 4:43
“We were 0.04 seconds apart. Unfortunately the coach of one of the competitors attracted a protest for his encouragement. He was telling her my position – she was disqualified as a result!”
Later in the same championships, in the 800m Pam took silver in 2:18:55, a little over 3 seconds behind the winner, Judy Daly.