The world’s oldest marathon runner!

2013July02_SeniorFitness_AMost people think of their golden years as a time to start slowing down and taking things a little easier; a well earned time out after a lifetime of work. You might be already at an age where a few walks on the beach or a morning of light gardening is as much as you expect to do. But you don’t have to decline into armchairs and dotage, especially as people are all leading longer lives and you want to be fit enough to enjoy your later years. Indeed, some people are finding that their most active years come after they’ve retired, when they enjoy a whole new lease of life.

Pumping iron in his 80s

Australian, Raymond Moon spends five mornings a week at the gym where he does a good 4km on the treadmill and 45 minutes of weight training. He is now doing lateral pulls of  45kg (99lbs). That’s not bad going for a man in his 20s but Mr Moon is 83. In fact, he was just recognized as the World’s Oldest Competitive Male Bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of Records, having competed in the World Fitness Federation International Championships in Melbourne. He has only been lifting weights since his 70s but as he says himself, “age is no barrier. Life is what you make it.”

And Raymond has achieved all this despite having had open-heart surgery, a pacemaker, two minor strokes and even bladder cancer. This only led to him taking a short break in his weightlifting workouts. It seems cancer may be a hell of a tough illness, but not as tough as Raymond Moon.

Running a century

Even though we are living longer than ever before, 100 years is still a grand old age and reaching it is an achievement in itself. This is why most people don’t make many post-century plans other than to sit around and be stared at by the great-great grandchildren. They certainly don’t tend to pull on running shoes and run marathons. Well some do. Recently, Fauja Singh, from London, who is 101 years old, finished the Hong Kong 10km (6.25 mile) event in one hour, 32 minutes and 28 seconds. Mr. Singh only ran his first marathon in 2000 and since then has completed eight others. He became the oldest full marathon runner when he was 100, in 2011, having run the Toronto marathon. He took up running aged 89 after the death of his wife. “From a tragedy has come a lot of success and happiness,” claims Mr. Singh.

High flying granny

We don’t like to think of old age as a time when we are staring death in the face but this is something that Dilys Price, 81, had to do when she had a little problem with her hobby. For Dilys is the World’s Oldest Female Skydiver and she recently cheated death when her chute didn’t open. Quick-thinking Dilys was only within a thousand feet of solid ground when she managed to get her reserve parachute open. It was just another jump to her though and as soon as she landed she was looking forward to the next one. As she says, ” it’s about learning to feel the fear and doing it anyway.”

Gymnastic gran

We expect to lose a little of our flexibility as we age, indeed most of us feel it in our 30s, but one lady who has not let age whither or stale her is ever-bendy Johanna Quaas from Germany. A spritely 86, she exercises on the parallel bars, performing scissor twists and handstands. She claims that a routine of yoga and running keeps her in prime shape, but she does have the advantage of coming from a family of gymnasts and doing the sport as a child. But it wasn’t till she was in her 50s that she took it up again. She is now officially the World’s Oldest Gymnast and claims that her morning routine is running up and down the stairs.

The great Mr, Whittemore

The great granddaddy of all aged athletes has to be John Whittemore. Sadly, he is no longer with us but many of the records he set still stand. John, of Montecito, California, was dubbed the ‘world’s oldest athlete. A long time Masters Track athlete, his last competition was on October 5, 2004, just six weeks before his 105th birthday. During that event, John also threw the discus and javelin. In his youth he played baseball and was an outstanding tennis player. John Whittemore was a great example of how staying active can keep you mentally alert and he clearly enjoyed his status as an older athlete. As he joked of his own unique position: “If I don’t drop it on my foot, I set a world record.”

So, if you are getting to the wrong side of 60 and thinking you might be slowing down a little, surely these inspiring stories should make you think again. As we are living longer we need to be fitter than ever as we age, so that we can enjoy our lives to the full. Exercise builds bone mass, keeps joints supple and builds muscle to keep you active. You also stay active mentally and get out to meet new people and enjoy new things. So don’t let your age be an excuse to be less active, use that extra time to get fitter than ever.

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