No Snail’s Pace For These Masters

Hawaii Masters Track Club members Kevin Kruszona, Jack Karbens and Vince Costello hit the track | Leah Friel photo

Vince Costello is into snails – rare snails. As part of his environmental work with the University of Hawaii Research Corporation, he regularly hikes and backpacks deep into the Waianae or Koolau mountains in search of rare species.

Hiking is great cross-training for his other pursuit – track and field. At age 60, Costello is part of the Hawaii Masters Track Club and one of the top decathletes for his age group in the nation. He’s won the national Masters title in the decathlon, pentathlon and heptathlon over the years, and this past spring he earned the national indoors heptathlon title at the Masters competition in Kenosha, Wis.

“I started in the decathlon when I was 28,” Costello says. “I came to Hawaii about 20 years ago (he’s originally from New Jersey) and got involved with track and field again and it’s been great. I’m really blessed that I’ve been able to stay active.”

Costello says his top two events “are probably the hurdles and the javelin,” he says. Despite being 60 years old, he’s no snail getting up and down the track, running the 100 meters in less than 14 seconds. “Last year, I ran sometimes with the 13- and 14-year-old boys, and I can do pretty well with them. But if you put me up against the high school kids, they would leave me in the dust,” he jokes.

Hawaii Masters Track Club has been around since 1971. Jack Karbens, 71, who is nationally ranked in numerous events and who has won several national Masters titles, has been with the club since 1972.

The local Masters members often compete against junior competitors in the weekly USTFA Junior Olympic meets that take place at the UH-Manoa track during the summer.

“I look over in the next lane and sometimes I’m competing against the grand-kids of people I competed against 40 years ago,” Karbens says.

“We’re looking for old jocks,” he adds. “I got into this after breaking my ankle for the third time playing basketball back when I was 31 years old. It was my doctor who suggested track, so I could keep in shape. We love having guys and gals over 30 (sub-Masters) or over 40 (Masters), who are former athletes who maybe can’t take part in their old sport anymore. There’s a place here for everybody.”

The Hawaii Masters Track Club often works out Saturday and Sunday mornings at Kaiser High School in Hawaii Kai. That’s where Kevin Kruszona is the track and field coach. He’s also the current president of the HMTC, and at age 55, a decathlete just like Costello and Karbens.

“Doing all the different disciplines allows me to help coach the kids in all of them,” he says. “I do this for the physical fitness and health aspects. I just love track. You get to meet great people and stay in shape. And it allows you to set realistic goals.”

One of the goals set by Costello is to be ready for the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy, in early August. “This is something they have every four years around the world,” he says. “There are many different sports, not just track and field. It will be the strongest competition I’ve ever been involved in.”

For sure, there will be no snails there. For Costello and the other competitors, they will once again be proving that age doesn’t matter.

“I read stories about people in their 80s and 90s breaking world records,” he says. “This is a great club to be a part of.”

You can get more information at Just think Hawaii Masters Track Club Go!