Surrey’s Cindy O’Brien Hugh, 62, is a hurdler with Greyhounds Masters Track & Field Club. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Surrey’s Cindy O’Brien Hugh, 62, is a hurdler with Greyhounds Masters Track & Field Club. (Photo: Tom Zillich)


In their golden years, Surrey’s Greyhounds run, jump, walk and throw for records

Members of the track and field club have found a way to keep fit during the pandemic

Despite the pandemic, members of Greyhounds Masters Track & Field Club have found a way to train outdoors and stay active on the track at North Surrey Secondary.

The 22-year-old club counts some record holders among its nearly 100 members, which range in age from 35 to 90 and are among the most inspirational athletes you’ll ever meet.

Newton-area resident Renate Cheetham, 83, was among Greyhound athletes given a 2020 Outstanding Athletic Performance award by BC Athletics, for her Canadian record-breaking W80 one-mile racewalk performance at Bear Creek Park last September, in a time of 12:26.55 in smoky conditions.

The in-club, BC Athletics-sanctioned meet was a rare one for the club during the ongoing pandemic.

“I haven’t been doing the (racewalk) event that long, maybe the second year now,” said Cheetham, a member of the Greyhounds for seven years.

“I broke a record that stood for a long time, so that makes me very happy. I didn’t think I could do it but Harold (Morioka, club coach and co-founder) kept saying, ‘You can do it,’ and when the adrenaline kicks in, yes, you can do it. He timed my first lap and it was under what I thought I could do, and then I got encouraged.”

(Story continues below tweet and photo)


PICTURED: At North Surrey Secondary track, Greyhounds Masters Track & Field Club members include, from left to right, Sheila Allison, Cindy O’Brien Hugh, Arthur Gee, Deborah Lee, Urith Hayley and Renate Cheetham. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Club president Urith Hayley is another 2020 BC Athletics Award winner, for Outstanding Service, for work to deliver 50 tablets to residents of long-term care homes, mostly in Surrey, as a COVID project with Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program. The computers allowed seniors to be able to contact loved ones during the pandemic, and also access exercise programs linked to the club’s website.

“We’re not practicing as a club now, because we aren’t allowed to, only a maximum of 10 per group,” Hayley, a member of the club since the early 2000s, said on a recent Thursday morning on the North Surrey track, to which she travels from Coquitlam.

“Some people come down here on certain days, and others go to Coquitlam, some to Burnaby,” Hayley added. “We are the only club like this in B.C., for masters, the largest, so we have members in Kamloops, on the Island and other places. They may not come here to train, but they are members and when we go to a meet, they compete as Greyhounds, are part of our team.”

The club started in 1999 in Coquitlam, and moved to North Surrey in 2006, according to Morioka, a sprinter inducted into B.C. Athletics Hall of Fame a few years ago.

• RELATED STORY, from 2017: Surrey senior Morioka a multiple world record holder; B.C. sprinter inducted into B.C. Athletics Hall of Fame.

(Story continues below video and photo)


PICTURED: Surrey’s Denise Begg, 70, excels at throwing with Greyhounds Masters Track & Field Club. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Morioka and the others hope B.C.’s vaccination program will allow club members to soon practice together in groups of more than 10 at a time, on Thursday and Saturday mornings.

“We do running drills, throws and hurdles and usually rain or shine, unless it’s heavy rain,” explained Sheila Allison, 76, who lives in Cloverdale.

“We train year-round here,” added fellow Greyhound Deborah Lee. “We used to go inside at Guildford rec centre, but that’s not allowed during the pandemic, so we’re outside all the time right now. There have been a few days when it’s so miserable outside that we just say, ‘Forget it, let’s go for coffee,’” she said with a laugh.

Lee did some track in high school but didn’t discover the Greyhounds until she was about to turn 60.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want this (birthday) to be depressing, I want this to be a positive thing,” she recalled. “I found out about the club and joined after my 60th birthday. I think a lot of people are like me, who maybe dabbled in track in high school or other sports, and now they have some time and then hear about the club. But some people never did track or anything like that.”

(Story continues below tweet)

Last year, Surrey resident Cindy O’Brien Hugh broke the BC Masters record in the W60 80-metre hurdles, at age 62.

Lenore Montgomery, who recently entered the W90 age group, set a new world record in the 1500m, with a time of just over 12 minutes, 34 seconds.

Another Surrey-area athlete, Denise Begg, 70, became a club member last summer and now excels at throwing.

Other Greyhounds who won BC Athletics awards in 2020 include Montgomery, Sam Walker and Dmitry Babenko. Their bios are posted on the club website,

“We are hoping to host a meet this August at Bear Creek Park,” Hayley said, “because hopefully everyone who comes will be vaccinated by that time. Everybody is crossing their fingers for that to happen.”

Whenever the next sanctioned meet happens, Cheetham will be aiming to break a 1,500-metre racewalk record that has stood for a long time.

“It’s almost like running, that speed,” she said. “Both feet have to be on the ground and you have to straighten out your knee – you can’t bend your knee. You can’t run – you get disqualified if you run.”

Cheetham said she was a really good swimmer at a young age, but got into track after her husband got sick and was no longer able to be active.

“I thought, ‘I have to still do something and be active,’ so this is what it was. It makes me happy.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2018: Fleet-footed Surrey senior makes dream come true on the track.

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

SeniorsTrack and field

Just Posted

Sergeant Mike Sanchez of the Surrey Gang Enforcement Team speaking with students. (Photo: RCMP).
Surrey RCMP’s anti-gang program goes virtual amid COVID-19 pandemic

Presentations aimed at youth available to be booked

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Discussions about Surrey-owned land in Langley should be behind closed doors, councillors say

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and former Surrey mayor Bob Bose say

(Clockwise, from top-left) Brenda DeJong, Carol Jones, Marcia Strang, Cathy Collis and Mark East star in the upcoming Sidekick Players Zoom presentation of the Norm Foster play “Halfway There,” directed by Carroll Lefebvre, on May 22, 2021. (Submitted photos)
Delta’s Sidekick Players continue ‘Foster Zoom Fest’ with ‘Halfway There’

Tsawwassen-based theatre company hosting another online performance on Saturday, May 22

Mike Farnworth, pre-pandemic. (File photo)
Surrey Police recruitment not distracting cops from shootings, Farnworth says

‘That’s simply not the case,’ Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told the Now-Leader on Friday

Elsje Hannah stands in the old safe at the Healing Place Counselling Centre in the Dale Building. Hannah converted the old safe into a chapel-area for quiet reflection for clients at her practice, which includes the not-for-profit Soul Matters Counselling. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Not-for-profit counselling service opens in Cloverdale

Soul Matters Counselling is located on 176th in the Dale Building

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Mandarin Garden in Abbotsford had two event tents set up for outdoor dining. One of the tents, valued at more than $5,000, was stolen early Friday morning (May 14). (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Dining tent stolen from Abbotsford restaurant is located

Owner says it would have cost more than $5,000 to replace the rented event tent

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

Most Read