Health & Wellness

Boomer Edition | 10th Annual | 2014

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R i d i ng a A g i n g at h l e t e s by Lisa Marshall adop wav e t new e way s am f o r s tay i n i n t h e g g Standing on a Florida beach after her historic 53-hour swim from Cuba, a sunburned and ecstatic Diana Nyad looked into the TV cameras in September and delivered a potent message to her fellow baby boomers: "You are never too old to chase your dreams." At age 64, the legendary endurance swimmer had just become the first person ever to make the 110-mile journey without the aid of a shark cage. She had also become the poster child for a generation of athletes – from runners and cyclists to rowers and triathletes - who are refusing to let age keep them from the starting line. "What we are doing in our 60s is not what our parents were doing in their 60s," says 66-year-old Boulder runner Frank Shorter, whose 1972 Olympic marathon win is credited for launching the U.S. running boom. "We are the first wave in a major paradigm shift, and we get to ride it just like we rode the wave of the first running boom." In fact, 50-plus athletes make up one of the fastestgrowing demographics at races. According to trade group Running USA, they constitute 18 percent of marathoners 38 and roughly a quarter of half-marathoners. At the 2011 New York City Marathon, 9,536 athletes were 50 or older. That year in Hawaii, nearly 2,500, 60-plus runners completed the Honolulu Marathon. Cycling is also enjoying a surge in older participants, with the median age for the seven-day, 500-mile Ride the Rockies hovering around 51. Meanwhile, 13.5 percent of those who completed a triathlon in 2012 were older than 50, according to USA Triathlon. Fitness-industry observers attribute the trend to everything from new joint-replacement technology, to the rise of "masters" competitions for 40-plus athletes, to a shift in mindset about what "seniors" are capable of achieving. But local athletes say it also centers on body maintenance earlier in life and a willingness to try new things as old favorites grow harder.

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