Maurice’s 90th Birthday Celebration, January 4, 2020
I am honoured to pay tribute to Maurice on his 90th birthday celebration; he is the only active 90 year-old club member of the 1,200 plus runners who have been part of our club over the past 43 years. Maurice Tarrant is simply the best! I have been a friend and have followed his outstanding running career since he joined the Harriers 38 years ago in 1982 which was the very first year of the Vancouver Island Race Series. Maurice won every Series race that year in his age category and has gone undefeated in more than 250 consecutive races setting several provincial, national and WORLD age category records along the way. There is no doubt whatsoever that Maurice is the greatest master ever to wear a PIH uniform and I firmly believe that he ranks as a top master athlete worldwide. He has set some national and international records that may stand forever and he has established a winning streak on Vancouver Island that is unparalleled in any other sport by any other athlete.
At the Royal Victoria 8K road race, currently the GoodLife Fitness Victoria 8K, Maurice has established course records for M60, M65, M70, M75, M80 and M85 and he has run every single one of the thirty Times Colonist 10K races since they started in 1990 establishing age category records in virtually every division from M50 to M80.
Maurice was born in Devon, England and he started his running career at the age of 10 by delivering newspapers for both a morning and evening route and also running to and from school each day. At 17 he was active in rowing and rugby and he joined the Royal Air Force at age 21. Maurice ran cross country, track and road races from age 24 to 29 and represented Devon at an Inter-Country Meet at White City. He preferred the longer distances such as races of three miles and six miles on the track.
He stopped running at age 30 and began refereeing soccer for 10 years while living in Quebec. In 1981 he moved to Victoria and resumed his running 2 years later at the age of 52. This was the very first year of the Vancouver Island Race Series, 1982, and Maurice signed up for the full 8 race package after a 23-year absence from competing. He won his first race in the 50 to 54 age division and, since that first Island Series race, he has gone on to finish FIRST in his age class and unprecedented 250 consecutive times. Just think about that for a moment - 250 consecutive victories! There may never be another runner, of any age, in any country, at any time, that will eclipse that incredible mark.
Maurice joined the Prairie Inn Harriers when he arrived in Victoria and the club presented him with a plaque at the final 2004 Island Series race in Parksville recognizing his 200th straight age class win. During that year, he won his age category in every one of the Series races and set 8 new M75 course records. He established Canadian Records for 5K, 8K, 10K, 12K, 15K and the Half Marathon in 2005 and currently he has set a remarkable 76 national age category records, countless provincial records and a number of world road race and track records.
He doesn’t just lower Canadian Records, Maurice completely destroys them. For a one-mile track race, most athletes are happy to just shave a few tenths of a second off the record. In 1987 the M50 one-mile record was 6 minutes flat. Maurice ran a Masters’ Mile race at the UVic track a full MINUTE faster than that. At Merville that same year he lowered the M55 Canadian 15K record from 1:11 to 1:05, a staggering 6-minute improvement that had stood for more than 20 years.
He has won the Alex Marshall Master of the Year Award an incredible nine different times between 1988 and 2003. He won the Harriers Veteran of the Year in 2004 and 2005 before the Harriers renamed the trophy in his honour and, in 2006, the new Maurice Tarrant Veteran of the Year Award was established for runners over the age of 60. Maurice proudly presented the trophy to 82 year-old Jim Sargent and 60 year-old Sandra Bastedo, both of whom were also setting national age class records and were personal friends of his.
In 1995 and 2010 Maurice was selected as our Gunner Shaw Most Valuable Runner. Imagine that, at the age of 80 he was chosen as the Harriers very best runner of more than 300 active members of all ages and abilities. I don’t think there is another running club in Canada, or even in North America, that could boast of an 80 year-old Most Valuable Runner based on his achievements.
Maurice’s contributions to the club didn’t stop there. In 2007 he was presented with a Harriers Lifetime Membership joining the likes of Bruce “Gunner” Shaw, Alex “Mother” Marshall, Ken Smythe, Garfield Saunders, Susan Norrington, Garth Ball, Gary Duncan, Dan Harlow, Merell Harlow and yours truly just to name a few of the 20 members. In 2014 he received the Sandy Auburn High Achievement Award and the following year he was presented with the Canadian Lifetime Achievement Running Award. Finally, the most fitting and prestigious club award was presented to Maurice in 2017 as he was inducted into the Harriers Hall of Fame along with Simon Whitfield, Lucy Smith, Ulla Hansen, Herb Phillips and Gunner Shaw. Besides being a member of the Harriers Hall of Fame, he has also been inducted into the Canadian Masters Hall of Fame, the BC Athletics Hall of Fame and the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.
Maurice Tarrant exemplifies senior, master and veteran running in our sport at the highest level. It is indeed a pleasure to welcome him to a new decade and a new chapter in his running life. Happy 90th my friend, I will be cheering you in at Pioneer this Sunday with yet another M90 Canadian 8K road record. Thanks for all that you have done for the club, your family and your friends over the years. At 90, you are an inspiration and a bright light to all of us who have had the pleasure of knowing you.
Presented by Bob Reid January 4, 2020