CAF athletes excel at World Master Athletics Championships

Five women race beside one another in five lanes.
At the World Master Athletics Championship held in Malaga, Spain, in early September 2018, Master Corporal (retired) Natacha Dupuis (centre, bib 837) runs in the 100m qualification race. PHOTO: Doug “Shaggy” Smith

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By Major Serge Faucher

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) sent three serving members to the World Master Athletics Championship (WMAC) held in Malaga, Spain, from September 4 to 16, 2018. More than 8,100 athletes attended these very competitive games, including 162 from Canada.

Among those Canadian athletes, Lieutenant-Colonel Joe Boland, from 3 Canadian Division Headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta, competed in the M35 category (runners who are aged 35-39). Joe started with the 800m, posting a fast 2:01.14 minutes in the qualification round, and easily moved to the semi-finals. There, he turned up the heat with a time of 1:57.92 minutes, which qualified him to advance to the finals. He finished 9th overall in the finals in 2:01.69 minutes.

Joe also competed in the 1500m, where he ran the semi-final in 4:10.59 minutes to advance to the finals. There, he finished a strong fifth overall, in 4:06.79 minutes—an excellent performance considering that he is at the top end of his age group. When he turns 40, he will surely be a force to be reckoned with as the youngest in his new category! Joe closed the games with the M35 4 X 400m relay, which was the last event of the games. His team finished 5th with a time of 3:44.57 minutes.

Chief Warrant Officer Claude Faucher, my brother, who is currently the Deputy Judge Advocate chief warrant officer at Borden, Ontario, ran a 2:13.74-minute race in the M50 (runners who are aged 50-54) 800m qualification round. His next event was the 400m, which he completed in 59.94 seconds. A few days later, he ran the 1500m semi-final in a solid 4:47.64 minutes.

Overall, Claude ran quite well considering that he had been hampered by a nagging Achilles tendon injury that prevented him from training properly over the last few months. He relied heavily on cross-training on a rower to maintain his fitness throughout the season.

As well as the three serving CAF members, Master Corporal (retired) Natacha Dupuis competed in her first WMA Championships. She is the Operational Stress Injury Social Support Peer Support Coordinator (Gatineau region) attached to the Joint Personnel Support Unit, and is known for competing in the Invictus Games.

Natacha participated in the W35 100m, 200m, and 400m races, where she earned a Personal Best of 64.82 seconds. On the final day, she ran in the 4 x 100m, and 4 x 400m relays. Her 4 x 100m team won a Silver medal (her first ever at this level), and established a new Canadian record with a time of 50.41 seconds. Heavily involved with the Invictus Games, Natacha plans to attend the next ones as Veterans Affairs correspondent.

As for myself, things were not so good initially. I experienced two grade-1 hamstring strains in the last two weeks before flying out to Spain. Once in Europe, I had to make the difficult decision to “scratch” the 100m and the 200m in order to buy some time to heal before my main event, the 400m, which took place nine days later. I was fortunate to have access to an excellent physiotherapist on staff for team Canada.

On September 11, 2018, I crossed my fingers and ran a strong 400m in the qualification round with a time of 56.14 seconds, coming in 9th of 88 runners). This finish moved me to the next round, as they took the top 24 runners. Unfortunately, I tweaked something in my ankle as a result of that race, which side-lined me for a few more days. That meant back to physio before going into the relays on the last day of competition.

From then on, things improved as we earned the Bronze medal running an excellent M50 4 X 100m relay in a new Canadian record of 46.67 seconds. Three hours later, I teamed up with other Canadian athletes for the start of the M50 4 X 400m, in which we also completed with a Canadian record of 3:44.79 minutes – good enough for fifth overall. That record had stood since 1993.

While it’s now time to relax for a few days, the heavy training will resume in October for the next WMAiC (indoor Championships) in Torun, Poland, March 24 to 30, 2019.

Major Serge Faucher is with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Ottawa, Ontario.

Royal Canadian Air Force
World Masters Athletics

Image gallery

  • A group of runners rounds a corner of a track in a stadium.
  • Five women race beside one another in five lanes.
  • Five women race beside one another in five lanes.
  • A man races on a running track.
  • A running man takes a baton from another running man.
  • Four men in similar running gear stand on a stadium track with their arms around each other’s shoulders
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