Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 6 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts   

It's not your age that counts in a race for your life!

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   1 comment
Message Frosty Wooldridge
Become a Fan
  (5 fans)

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with  talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan  "Press on" has solved and always will solve, the problems of the  human race.

                                                                                                        A Wise Man
Touring through Hobart, Indiana, one summer, I heard about a  triathlon being run the next day.  I decided to enter if they  allowed same-day registration.  The swim, bike and run event  takes place worldwide, with a large following of people from many  walks of life.  I had run in several dozen myself and it was a  great way to meet people who enjoyed physical fitness. 

Even while touring, I like to run and swim at every  opportunity along the route.  I swim in rivers, lakes, pools and  oceans.  Running is easy to do in the mornings before breaking  camp.  Bicycling is easy for me as I crank the pedals 70 miles a  day, which includes a handicap of 70 pounds of gear.  It would be  fun to test my mettle in a triathlon.

The next morning, I was allowed to register when several  competitors didn't show up.  After stashing my bags and camping  gear with a family from Indianapolis who came to race, I surveyed  the course.  It included a mile swim, 46-mile bike ride and  finished with a six mile run. The race was set in age group waves.  More than 600  triathletes lined up on the beach.  They ranged in ages from 18  through 71.  The oldest woman was 71 and the oldest man was 69.   Knowing how tough a sport it is, I was amazed at the number of  older people lining up for the swim. 

When the gun fired, the first wave of triathletes dove in  with arms flying through the water.  When my age group came up, I  stepped up to the line.  I was nervous and full of expectation.  I knew the next four plus hours were going to be tough.  I couldn't  help myself.  I was going to push my body to its limits during  the race. 

In seconds, I pulled handfuls of water past my body as I  swam toward the distant marker.  Some guys were cruising past me,  and I was passing others.  I was in the thick of it.  Rounding  the marker eight minutes later, I felt good as my strokes were  strong.  I cruised into the beach with a good time. 

After changing my clothes, I jumped on my bike, and flew  down the road.  Several people glanced at me on my mountain bike  as if I were pretty strange compared to those sleek racers, but I  didn't mind.  My legs made up for a lot of their equipment.  I  kept picking them off, one by one.   For the next hour, I was  hammering down on them at 25 miles per hour, sometimes faster as  I gained surges of strength.  By the time I came into the  transition area, I was in the top ten of my age group.  A quick  change of shoes and I rushed onto the running course. 

The run was tougher because I hadn't been training, so I  wasn't picking anyone off, but I wasn't losing places either.  I  ran into the shoot in the top third of the racers and ninth place  for my age group.  It was quite a feeling to have been at full  throttle for four hours.  Everyone stood around, cheering the racers as they came in  from the run.  Even though it was a race, everyone loved to see  every competitor finish.  Most of us congregated around the  fruit, bagel and drink tent.  I ate 30 pieces of cut-up orange  slices, watermelon and grapes.  An hour later, most people were  off the race course and race sponsors announced the awards  ceremony would be held in fifteen minutes.

People gathered around the platform while the times and  awards were given out.  By the time they were nearly finished, it  was more than four hours since the start of the race.  Many  people were going home, when the sponsor made a special  announcement.

"Friends, you're not going to believe this, but two racers  are still out on the course, and they're battling for second to  last place," he said. "Right now, 69 year old John Haglan is  leading 71 year old Martha Gingrich.  They're a half mile out, so  if you would like to cheer them at the finish, let's line the race  course."

In seconds, more than 500 people lined both sides of the  course leading toward the finish.  With only a 100 yards to go  after the turn off the main road, the two triathletes rounded the  corner not five yards apart.  They were in a race for their  lives, as it was apparent that neither wanted to be last.  John  Haglan was limping, but still holding on to the lead--while  Martha was gaining.  The crowd, caught up in the drama, screamed support for the two racers.  With fifty yards to go, Martha  grabbed the lead from John.  At that point, the aging triathlete  seemed to lose his legs, but kept fighting to sustain his stride.  The crowd cheered wildly and gave them high fives as they raced  down the shoot.  Martha was going to win by ten yards when just  before the finish line, she stopped, turned around, and waved to  John to hurry up.  When he reached her, she joined hands with him  and they both ran across the finish in a tie.  The crowd went  wild.

There wasn't a dry eye at the race. 

Two hours later, everyone was gone except the cleanup crews.   I loaded my bike and filled my water bottles.  That day was one  of the greatest sports events I have ever witnessed.  Martha and  John showed everyone at that race that youth is a matter of attitude.

Samuel Ullman wrote:  "Youth is not a time of life;  it is a  state of mind;  it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and  supple knees;  it is a matter of will, a quality of imagination,  a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs  of life.

"Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over  timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.  This often exists in a man of 60 more than a boy of 20.  Nobody  grows old merely by living a number of years.  We grow old by deserting our ideals.  Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up  enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.  Worry, fear, self-doubt bows the  heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

"Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human being's heart the  lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike curiosity of what's next,  and the joy of the game of living.  In the center of your heart  and mine there is a wireless station; so long as it receives  messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, you are young.

"When the antennas are down, and your spirit is covered with  the snows of cynicism and ice of pessimism, then you have grown  old, even at 20.  But so long as your antennas are up, to catch the optimism and create enthusiasm, there is hope you may die YOUNG at 80."

John and Martha's enthusiasm generated more power and excitement than the winners of the race.  In fact, in Latin, the word "enthusiasm' means "en theo' which means, "with God'.  When we look at emerging creative forces of God, then it means that anyone with "enthusiasm' is continually renewing and creating energy and moving with the forces of life.  They are, quite literally, forever young--until their very last breath on Earth.
Thank you Martha and John for your living proof of living with "enthusiasm', because in the end, age doesn't count.

Touching 1   Inspiring 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Frosty Wooldridge Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Frosty Wooldridge Bio: Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His books (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Over-Population Exponentially Increases Air Pollution

Growing Illiteracy in America: Creating entrenched poverty

U.S. economy in trouble and why

Part 1: Overpopulation in 21st century America--our risky future

Who is to blame for $4.00 a gallon gas? How about $10.00 a gallon?

What America will look like in 2050--fractured nation, multiple languages

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend