Monday, October 22, 2007

Athletes Over 40 Hurdle Past Records, Stereotypes (Denver Post)

The Denver Post did an interesting article on the success of 40+ year olds in endurance sports, featuring Marshall Ulrich (multiple winner of Badwater), Bernie Boettcher, Matt Carpenter, and more. My favorite quotes:
"They aren't winning despite their age. They are winning because of their age."

"What we are seeing is a new phenomenon in that we have athletes who are basically athletes their entire lives," says Chris Carmichael, Colorado Springs training maestro to Lance Armstrong and a former pro bike racer who finished his second Leadville 100 this year at the age of 46, this time in less than nine hours. "They just keep on going. They just keep on getting more efficient with their use of oxygen. After years and years of aerobic training and competing, they are, in a sense, smarter athletes."

Take Bernie Boettcher. On his 45th birthday last month, the Silt legend reset his master-class record and logged his fourth overall win at the Imogene Pass race above Telluride. It was his 267th race in 260 consecutive weeks. In those five years of every-weekend racing in sneakers and snowshoes, he's tallied 115 wins and 208 master-class wins."At the end of suffering, there is a reward, and it's a really neat feeling to overcome that suffering," says Boettcher, his blue eyes
gleaming beneath his trademark wide-brim straw hat. "After a while, that feeling is irresistible. You plow on through because you know it's so good."
You can read the full article here.



  1. 9 hours for leadville 100?
    I can't wait til I turn 40!

  2. Ha! I think Carmichael is referring to a bike race. Too bad - forty ain't that far away for me!


  3. I find this to be less of a smashing of a stereotype than a discovery and increasing public acknowledgement of an area of greater achievement, gift and skill for us older uberathletes. Many of us discovered this gift only after slowing down at the shorter distances (relative to the youngsters) and looking for something new at which to excel. Thank goodness for ultras! But before we oldie ultras pat ourselves on the back too much we should remember that ultra racing is a self-centered, time consuming and expensive sport. Imagine what all of us could do collectively if we put our extraordinary gift for keeping our aging motors running--not to speak of our money--into the many physically demanding humanitarian and environmental projects around the globe! What a difference we could make--for others. Racing for various charities is only a good start.(This is not to diminish in any way the extraordinary work that Diane is doing simply by being out there and running--see the full news article.) Now that the world knows we have these incredible physical gifts we should show the world what we can do with them.

  4. This shows that experience goes a long way. 40 is right around the corner for me, and I have found that I'm much better about training now than 10 years ago. I listen to my body a lot more and find I'm getting injured a lot less.

    Now I just have to teach myself to take it easy at the start of races, instead of going out like a banshee!


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