Mac still going super-strong - at 86

21:12, Feb 27 2014
Southland Times photo
Athlete Mac Mackay is taking part in this year's New Zealand Masters Track and Field Championships in Invercargill today.

Poll: Super-fit 86-year-old Mac Mackay has used a path in Queens Park and the stairs of a grandstand at the Ascot Park racecourse as part of training for track and field events.

The Invercargill athlete is the oldest Southlander at the New Zealand Masters Track and Field Championships, which start today and finish on Monday, at Surrey Park in Invercargill.

His events are triple jump, high jump, long jump, 60m, 100m, 200m and 400m.

Mackay thrives on keeping fit, with weekly training consisting of three visits to the YMCA for aerobic exercise and three sessions of swimming at Splash Palace.

He does sprint training in Queens Park, using the path from Feldwick Gates to the band rotunda. Drains, a certain tree and an adjoining pathway are used by Mackay to mark distances.

In preparation for some events, the athlete used to run up the stairs of the north grandstand at Ascot Park. He would do it 20 times on each training day.


"I've also got a treadmill at home," Mackay said.

He was encouraged into Masters competition 16 years ago by his brother Ian, a now-retired long distance runner, of Dunedin.

Mac Mackay started with 100m and 200m sprints and swimming. "I hadn't swum for 50 years," he quipped.

He soon warmed to competing and now heads into today's hampionship with 223 masters medals, 161 being gold. The octogenarian broke three national Masters records at the New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin this month, setting fresh marks in long jump, high jump and 100m.

"I've done a bungy jump and I'll do another when I get the opportunity," Mackay said.

He, his four siblings and mother Dora emigrated to New Zealand from Glasgow in 1940. Mrs Mackay's husband, Donald, could not travel because men aged from 16 to 60 had to stay in Scotland for civil defence work during World War II in 1940.

"He got killed in an air raid a year later," Mackay said. "He was an air raid warden in a building that got bombed."

Mac Mackay, who left school at 16, was a shearer before farming at Kapuka South for 30 years.


The Southland Times