The National Senior Games (NSG) organization puts on an age 50+ competition in almost every state in the union each year. Every two years, they hold a USA national championship which is well attended, usually held at a good-looking track/university and provides an exciting atmosphere to celebrate "masters-level" fitness. In order to compete in the nationals, you have to qualify by placing 1st-3rd in a state event the year before. The next NSG nationals is in 2017, so I ran over to Alabama last week and qualified in that state's 2016 state meet.
There were a number of out of state athletes there vying for a coveted qualifying spot. I'll never forget my qualifying experience in late 2014 for the 2015 NSG. It went to Florida to qualify (exciting in itself as I was new to competition) and I met the sweetest lady in the elevator at the hotel the night before. She was in her 70's, had never run a sprint before, and was attempting to qualify in the 100m. She made it!
I attended and won last year's 55+ high jump at St. Thomas University in NSG in MN. It was a blast and I look forward to the 2017 games in Birmingham, AL.
Julia Curran-Villarreal is a three-time USA W55 national masters high jump champion. After a 35-year break from her favorite high school sport of track & field, Julia returned to competition in 2013 at the age of 53. Follow her journey on @juliajumping on Instagram and @juliacurran on Twitter.