cycling, triathlon

Why Older Triathletes Are Freaks

5 Comments 29 July 2014

Screen shot 2014-07-29 at 9.23.11 AMI’ve come to realize that ‘older’ triathletes (no good PC term comes to mind) are freaks. I’m in my 30s and work at an office in which almost everyone is younger than me, so almost everyone I know in their 50s and 60s are triathletes. In my mind, it’s normal that some 54-year-old woman has extremely defined calf muscles that you glimpse briefly as she flies by you up a 15% incline hill, or some 62-year-old guy has a resting heart rate of lower than his age and still races ironman triathlons in under 12 hours.

Then I went on our first cruise with my family this month. Let’s just say this cruise skewed older. Out of 1,600 passengers on board, only 18 were kids under the age of 12, so this cruise was certainly not catering to people with young families. For the first time in a long time, I was surrounded by 50- and 60-year-olds who weren’t predominantly endurance athletes. They didn’t spend Saturday mornings cranking out 50 miles on the bike, and then getting in a dozen miles more on the run on Sunday before church. They weren’t hitting the pool at 5AM for 100 repeats and getting in a quick 5K run at lunch.

In a word, these people on the cruise were…normal.

They were rounder, softer, and just seemed to look older and less healthy. It’s nothing against them for choosing that particular non-triathlete lifestyle, but it made me appreciate what these people I know have chosen to be and become. It’s kind of like watching basketball on TV. Those point guards seem so short compared to other basketball players on the court. Then you you meet an NBA point guard in person, and you’re like, “Wow. 6’5 is tall!”

I realized that triathletes have skewed my perception of what ‘normal’ is. It’s not normal to keep in shape, to still be an athlete, to have people 20s and 30s wish they could look like someone in their 50s and 60s. That drive and determination are the exception, not the rule. So, to you older triathletes, I salute you, and I hope I can be just like you when I grow up!

Has an older triathlete ever been an inspiration to you?  Comment below!

Speaking of living a different type of life, check out my interview with Chrissie Wellington. She’s one of the most interesting people I’ve ever interviewed, and she retired having never lost a single ironman race!

READ: How Robin Williams Secretly Used His Movies and Events To Help The Homeless



- who has written 165 posts on

Christian, husband, dad. Founder of, SVP at Triathlon and history addict.

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5 Comments so far

  1. mike says:

    Age is relative. You 50 year old children need to wait until you hit the 60-64, 65-69 and 70+ age groups. I will show you a bunch of freaks then. The numbers in each ranked age Group at USAT drop by 50% each five year age group. The odds of making it another 10 years in the sport are 1 in 4.

  2. Lynn says:

    I’m quite happy to be one of the “freaks”. I consider what I do on a daily basis to be normal but most of my friends and co-workers are amazed. For me it’s who I am and who I plan to be for as long as possible. Personally, I’m amazed when I meet someone my age and they look much older than me…and then I have to admit, I smile as I’m walking away.

  3. Pastor Ken says:

    I hope at least to be half the shape Jack Lalanne was in at the later stages of his life at the age of 96…to reach 90+ is a feat all by itself but to be in the shape he was…WOW!

  4. Duane Solem says:

    I’m at 74 in the 70-74yr tri AG and notice a performance decline of a percent or so each year for those in the group, generally….although performance CAN increase in certain areas. An example: in my most recent race three of us sprinting to the finish were in the 5min/mile range which is NOT where we normally run (!! ha ha) but it shows there is still some type II muscle fibers ready to haul in a pinch. If no serious injuries and good ongoing training I suspect “age is just a state of mind” might be true. Congratulations, all you “old” freaks and bless you all!

  5. Monster Mike says:

    Woohoo! My great friend and awesome triathlete LA Lowe sent me this article. I LOVE being a freak! My 50’s are turning into my most exciting and fittest of my life. Triathlon is the perfect event for us freaks because we must cross train to compete. I like the first comment…Bring on my 60’s! At this rate, I am working to be Number 1 in my age group in the world for Olympic Tris at 80! Monster Mike

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Christian, husband, dad. Founder of, SVP at Triathlon and history addict.

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