How Old is Too Old?

National Senior Games Triathlon finish area on Cleveland waterfront.

At the National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio, I had Sunday off from competition. I took the opportunity to do a leisurely morning run and cheer on the Triathlon participants. After watching some incredible athletes, I walked from the finish chatting with another Games participant about events.

     Me:  Are you competing today?

     She:  I’m competing in Swimming.  I used to compete in Cycling, but now I’m too old.

     Me:  How old is too old?

     She:  I’m 93.  I may ride in the State Games next year, but I won’t compete on the bike at the Nationals again.  My daughter tells me I’m too old.

She also offered that her daughter has little room for criticism, as she is a 68-year old who continues to do several hundred mile bike rides.

My new acquaintance and I said good-bye at the street corner where I walked on to my hotel and she crossed the street to catch the shuttle to hers.

That refreshing conversation was typical of many I’ve had over the last few days. Opening ceremonies on a beautiful mall adjacent to the Convention Center included several fantastic bands, the arrival of a flame to begin the games and fireworks lighting the sky. Cleveland welcomed 11,000 lycra-clad and fit seniors ready for competition and, based on the general mood on the Mall, ready to have a good time.  Those 11,000 athletes brought with them roughly 18,000 family members and friends.

Photo:  Plain Dealer
Photo: Plain Dealer

Some of those athletes are as young as 50, two athletes are over 100, and the rest of us are somewhere in between.

The Convention Center in Cleveland is incredibly convenient and the Senior Games have done a beautiful job of staffing volunteers and providing a great venue with lots of informative and fun activities located at the Center.

I’m competing in two running events and will write about those in a later post.  In the meantime, I’ll simply say I am sold on the National Senior Games and wondering why I waited this long to compete.  This isn’t just track and field and road running.  There are more than two dozen sports represented – basketball, softball, golf, volleyball, tennis – and some I’m not even familiar with.  

If this is of interest to you, start early. To compete in the National Senior Games, held in odd-numbered years, participants must first qualify the previous year at the state level. You can do this in your own state, or some states will allow out-of-staters do use their venue for qualification.

National Senior Games Cauldron
National Senior Games Cauldron (Photo credit: Texas.713)

I did this, qualifying for the 5K through the Keystone Games in Pennsylvania in July or August of 2012 and qualifying for the 10K through the Delaware Seniors Games event in October 2012.

And how old is too old? As long as there is another age group, we’re not too old.

Will you be there? Who’s in?


    • Yes, in this group you are young, although there are lots of people in your AG. Plenty of company. It would be great if you can compete in the future. We’d need to arrange to meet.

  1. Well there goes MY excuse for feeling too old to go for a run! That’s an amazing athelete! You both are! I guess I will have to come up with another lame excuse no to train. 😉 PS: nice work!.

    • Thanks. My plan is to stop going for a run when it stops bringing me joy, or serving as an excuse to get away by myself, or any other number of reasons I find to run.

  2. What a wonderful post! Terrific! I`m all for positive ageing and all of this is just so encouraging, Old people don’t have to melt into the background, become invisible and play Farmville til the end of their days. I want to be in these games. Trouble is, I`m in Ireland! International Seniors here I come!

    • There were some participants from a few island nations and from Canada, but I don’t know the rules for that. Is there an International Seniors competition? If so, it would be great to meet you and go for a run

  3. Thanks for this post and your blog. I’m a 50-something runner and never heard of this competition! I’ll keep my eyes out for 2015 as it’s always nice to have new goals to reach for.
    –Joan 🙂

  4. I met you at the National Games and texted you a picture taken at the 5K. The games were such an inspiration to me and made me all the more determined to keep at my running, cycling and swimming. At 60, I’m pretty young, but want to be doing this when I’m 80 or 90! My frustration is not being able to find training programs that take older age into account – the extra recovery required between workouts, etc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s