By Marek Warszawski, The Fresno Bee
12:58 AM EDT, July 4, 2012
Move it or lose it.
Chuck Freuler lives by this simple credo. Which explains why, at age 84, he still does triathlons.
Freuler doesn't just "do" them either. The Fresno, Calif., man is ranked as one of the top racers in his age group by USA Triathlon.
"At my age, I need a goal or a catalyst to keep fit," Freuler said. "If I wasn't doing a lot of athletic things, I think I'd lose my interest to keep fit. So I compete.
"Some of the guys I know that are my age, they get so sedentary," he continued. "Being a couch potato doesn't do much for your quality of life."
Freuler's latest race was the Bass Lake Classic Triathlon near Fresno, where he was the oldest competitor in a field of more than 600.
This is the second year of the resurrected Bass Lake race, which hosted the national championships in 1983 and '84. And, yes, Freuler competed both those years. He used the '84 race to qualify for triathlon's signature event, Ironman Hawaii, the following year.
"A guy who's 84 and still competing in triathlons? That's very impressive," said Jarrod Lyman of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau. "And the really cool thing is he's been with this race since the beginning."
With more than 150 triathlons on his resume, Freuler has no plans to slow down. In fact, he was pumped to be able to compete this year in the 85-89 age group. (He turns 85 in September.)
The country's 13th-ranked triathlete in the 80-84 division in 2011, Freuler hopes to be among the top two or three this year in 85-89s and perhaps even qualify for the 2013 world championships in London.
"When you age up, like I have this year, there are a lot of advantages," he said. "When you get into your 80s, one year can make a big difference."
To prepare for the altitude, Freuler headed up to Bass Lake the week of the race with his girlfriend to acclimate. These days he does mostly sprint-distance events. The race called for a 500-meter swim and a hilly 20-kilometer bike ride capped by a 5K run.
"I'll be satisfied just to finish, but I'd really like to finish in two and a half hours, certainly under three," Freuler said. "And the more I can be under that, the better. You don't get much satisfaction coming in dead last."
Older, stronger: The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Library of Medicine have a website with many articles for older people interested in starting or continuing to include fitness in their daily routine. Go to nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus (type "senior fitness" in the search field).
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