At 74

Retired Surrey firefighter takes on the world

Bill McNamara adds World Police and Fire Games Hall of Fame Induction to haul of 51 medals.

A retired Assistant Surrey Fire Chief and local senior is showing no sign of slowing down with his recent haul of medals at the 2015 Police and Fire Games.

Bill McNamara, 74, returned home with eight medals along with an induction into the first-ever Police and Fire Games Hall of Fame.

The games were held in Fairfax, Virginia from June 26 to July 5.

Since the first games held in San Jose in 1985, McNamara has won 51 medals in total – 13 gold, 17 silver and 21 bronze. Over the years he has held seven games records.

“Every two years I would tell myself, as long as I make the podium I’ll go to the next games,” said the fit, energetic senior, “and every year I have done it, so I couldn’t stop.”

Going into this years event, McNamara had won 43 medals, and since this year was his 50th wedding anniversary, his goal was to get seven medals to match his years of marriage. He overshot his goal, however, winning eight medals in the eight events he entered.

McNamara has been competing in the 70-74 age group but because few competitors are able to compete at his age, he competed in the 60-65 age category for two events – and still finished in the top three.

One event was the stair race, a timed race up 29 floors where he placed second and the other was 4 x 400m relay where he and three other competitors won gold and broke the games record. The record would have been a Canadian record as well, however one of the Canadian runners got injured and had to be replaced with a runner from France, making the team ineligible to the national title.

“It was the last event on the last day and that made it so exciting,” he said

When he joined the fire service at age 30, McNamara realized he needed something to keep up the level of fitness needed to work in the physically demanding world of a firefighter and having seen many older firefighters suffer serious health issues due to declining fitness, he didn’t want that to happen to him.

“I was a pretty fit guy when I first started, but I started running track to keep fit, mostly the 400 and 800-metre,” he said, “because those races get your heart rate up quickly and you need to maintain that level which is very similar to when a call comes into the fire hall.”

He realized fitness was not only the key to his job but to enjoying life after retirement.

“I live a pretty healthy lifestyle. I eat well, and I do enjoy a nice glass of wine occasionally, too. Really nothing has changed, it’s just that now I have to work a little harder.”

Despite having a few aches and pains in the morning, having supportive family and friends is what motivates him.

Throughout the year McNamara maintains a busy schedule, balancing gym and track workouts up to six days a week along with many volunteer commitments, including being on the board of directors for both the Surrey Museum and Archives and the Surrey Christmas Bureau.

Although he feels his pace is beginning to slow, maintaining a high fitness level remains his main motivation. He has no plan to stop competing.

His goals include the World Masters Track and Field meet in Perth, Australia next year, but he’s trying to let his body recover before he makes any firm commitments.

“I have always prepared myself to be ready for whatever comes,” he said, “and my plan is to keep going until I drop.”