With his cowboy hat marginally tilted forward, denim on and boots laced, he may not look like the average track and field type.
But Armstrong fast-talker Don Raffan is ready to put his best, boot-laden foot forward and leave it all on the 55+ B.C. Games field, which take place today through Saturday.
“I’ve entered everything I can enter,” Raffan said, adding that the only events he opted out of were long distance runs. “I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I thought I’d try everything.”
Raffan, an auctioneer of his family business Valley Auctions Ltd, is no stranger to sport, with an impressive 13-year boxing history under his belt, years of long hours at the rink for hockey and of course, his competition history in the Canadian pro rodeo circuit.
Though he may not lift the boxing gloves like he used to, Raffan still idolizes his high school boxing instructor.
“He fought 108 fights, only losing eight,” Raffan said. “He was my sports hero.”
Despite a life full of high-intensity sport, the 63-year-old cowboy admits that track and field is a new valley for him to traverse.
“I know about sports, I just never did any track,” Raffan said, adding that he hopes to use his sports smarts to his advantage in the Games. “I’m going to put all that I learned forward, and I’m going to give her my best.”
Raffan has spent the summer tuning up for the tournament, and being his first expedition in the world of track and field, he has enlisted the help of coaches and trainers.
“I’ve been getting lots of help,” Raffan said. “It’s really exciting.”
But despite his rigorous training regimen, Raffan isn’t in it for a shot at provincial games glory. His motives are far closer to home.
“I have no expectations – just going to show up and go at it,” Raffan said.
For him, the Games are an opportunity to motivate himself to stay in shape and participate in the event that is helping to put the greater Vernon area on the map.
“You have to stay in shape,” Raffan said. “I’m in lots of pain all the time and the running is really helping.”
Participating alongside Raffan in his inaugural year of competition is his mother, Margaret Raffan, who cleaned house in the 2015 55+ B.C. Games in Burnaby, bringing home six medals.
“She entered again this year and she’s 90,” Raffan said of his mother. “How many guys can say that their mom was in it (55+ B.C. Games) with them?”
And Margaret isn’t the only example, with retirees from across the province, from the Shuswap, to the Cariboo, to the Island swarming Vernon for the games.
“It shows you don’t ever get old,” Raffan said. “Anyone that’s competing in it is an inspiration for me.”