An avid runner from Lacombe came home with five medals and some great memories after a big weekend at the Alberta 55+ Summer Games.
Susan MacDonald, a passionate hobbyist runner and experienced marathon participant, came home with a lot to be proud of. She won three gold medals in various running categories – 1,500m, 3,000m and four-person relay – and two bronze medals in short distance running including the 100m and 200m.
“It was totally awesome! It’s competition but certainly the emphasis is on fun and participation,” MacDonald said.
“I’ve been running for about 12 years. I’ve gone into community races like the Woody’s RV Marathon, the Lacombe Half-Marathon and the Blackfalds fun run – I’ve done quite a bit around the province. I’d never gone into the 55+ Games so this year I looked into it, and found the long-distance running events that I like,” MacDonald said.
This was MacDonald’s premier year at the Games and she said she had a lot of fun. The Games include much more than athletic events – creative skill-based competitions also take place as well as a variety of celebratory events.
“It’s an opportunity to participate and to meet people from all over the province. You get to share experiences with them and I would hope that more people come to take part in the age 55-65 group. You don’t have to be 75 or 85 to take part. There are all kinds of things for younger seniors as well,” MacDonald said.
“There are quite a few different sports and athletics but there is also a variety of other activities. They have a lot of card games and there is a creative side for competition. People can be writing or painting and we’ve had people from the local area win those.”
Participants earn individual placement medals, but also earn points for their zone. Alberta is divided into eight zones for the Alberta Games, and MacDonald is a part of Zone 4. That area includes Rocky Mountain House, Red Deer, Lacombe, Wetaskiwin, Camrose, Stettler and Coronation, among other municipalities.
Zone four came in third out of eight with 35 gold medals, 30 silver and 30 bronzes.
This year the competition took place in Strathmore. MacDonald said the host city did an excellent job to ensure comfort of the guests and the entire experience of the Games was enhanced by the Town’s service.
“Strathmore is still a town, but I think they did a great job putting things together for the Games. They had about a thousand participants and about 800 volunteers. It was great! They put you up, they provide accommodation, they provide meals – they have everything organized for you. There was entertainment and a whole cultural thing – it was really a nice weekend of celebration. You’re participating but there’s so many other things going on, too.”
With her gold medals, MacDonald now qualifies to attend the next Canada 55+ Games.
“I’d do it again and I certainly encourage others to participate and take part. It’s every two years, so next year if I want to I think I have the opportunity to go to the Canadian 55+ Games. Last year, Alberta hosted them in Sherwood Park. I couldn’t go because I hadn’t been a participant in the provincial level yet. I’d like to maybe take that opportunity.”