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Americans Over 50 Are Doing Extreme Sports Their Grandparents Never Imagined

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Americans Over 50 Are Doing Extreme Sports Their Grandparents Never Imagined

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Americans Over 50 Are Doing Extreme Sports Their Grandparents Never Imagined
Americans Over 50 Are Doing Extreme Sports Their Grandparents Never Imagined

In the days before she ran seven marathons in seven days, on seven continents, Jill Jamieson warmed up by paragliding, rock climbing and swimming. She then battled sub-zero temperatures and 30km/h winds in Antarctica, a stress fracture in Dubai and 99 per cent humidity in Brazil, all while battling a stomach virus.

He completed his seventh marathon before his 57th birthday.

"They think I'm a little crazy," said the friend of the Arlington, Va.. resident Jamieson said.

Jamieson ran seven marathons around the world in seven days to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association in honor of her late father. (Amanda Andrade-Rhodes for The Washington Post) Jamieson ran seven marathons around the world in seven days to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association in honor of her late father. (Amanda Andrade-Rhodes for The Washington Post)

But these days, most people can say the same about their friends. As athletic performance at all ages exceeds human limits, many people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s are achieving feats unimaginable by previous generations.

"People are a little surprised that older people play extreme sports," says Tom Kamber, executive director of high-tech services at AARP. But, he says, "there seems to be a tendency for people in the youth sphere to engage in non-traditional sports."

Over the past decade, the number of over-60s registered for the 140.6- and 70.3-mile Ironman triathlons has quintupled from 2,500 in 2012 to nearly 13,000 last year. The average age of participants in the Iditarod Trail Invitational is 46, from the early 1990s to the mid 30s. Haley Borgstrom, a sports medicine physiologist at Brigham, says she has seen a "significant increase" in the number of athletes. elderly in her practice.

For older generations, a middle-aged car may come in the form of a new sports car, while relaxing in retirement means sitting on a golf cart or bridge table with a cigarette or cocktail in hand. Many older people still choose leisure activities, and some keep them for health reasons. But others want something more powerful.

Introduced in 2018, Adam Fisher returns to skateboarding in his late 40s. © Ryan McKinley/Ryan McKinley Adam Fisher, pictured in 2018, returned to skateboarding in his late 40s. Fisher, who learned to freestyle skiing last year, says extreme sports are "a dangerous place in a dangerous place." Ryan McKinley/Ryan McKinley Fisher, who learned to freeski last year, says extreme sports encourage "being a great dad in a dangerous place."

For Adam Fisher, a 54-year-old writer and editor who lives in Marin County, California, some of the risk seems to be the antidote to his life as a "pretty dangerous suburban dad."

"It's very boring," Fisher said.

So, in his late 40s, he started taking skateboarding lessons, reminiscing about his youth, and last year took a refresher course on tricks like jumps, flips, spins, jumps and jumps.

Why would a middle-aged man who says he was never an athlete in his youth want to do this?

"The feeling of exhilaration. I know it resonates in Northern California, Fisher said. But "when you land a big jump successfully, you can play it in your head … and it sounds amazing." Later.

One of the reasons for the increase in adult participation in extreme sports is that the activities are popular among all age groups. Another is that Americans are living longer. Life expectancy in the mid-50s a century ago is now in the 70s, so there are plenty of seniors who can participate.

Rules and regulations have improved creating more opportunities for women. In Until the 1970s, women were banned from participating in marathons and girls did not have access to the sporting opportunities offered to boys. But it was founded in 1972 IX. The title prohibits sex-based discrimination at federally funded schools, allowing more women to participate in athletics.

Biden turns 80 and joins the growing ranks of octogenarians who are still working.

Rebecca Rush, 54, an extreme endurance athlete and motivational speaker, has made a career out of pushing her body. Rush's pursuits include rafting, rock climbing and most recently completing the 350-mile Iditarod bike race three years in a row. "It's a desire to fully immerse myself in nature and explore a remote area and see what my body can do," Rush said.

Rebecca Rush runs the Iditarod.

Go

Go

Some older athletes, like 74-year-old Carolyn Hartfield of Atlanta, start after health concerns. "On the last day of my 49th birthday, I had a doctor's appointment and the doctor told me I had prehypertension," she says. "I started going the next day." This led to other activities including basketball, rafting, caving, ziplining and hiking groups.

And some, like Keo Capestani, 86, of Seattle, had to challenge family members' and friends' preconceived notions of what they were capable of. "Our ideas are old, you have to be careful, you have to consider your age," says Capstani, a Cuban immigrant who started bodybuilding at age 60 and now strength trains four days a week.

86-year-old Keo Capestani started bodybuilding at the age of 60. © Vicky Capestany/Vicky Capestany Keo Capestany (86) started bodybuilding at the age of 60. "Our concepts are old, you have to be careful, you have to consider age," said Capestani. © Vicki Kepstani/Vicky Kepstani "Our ideas are old, you have to be careful, consider your age", said Kepstani.

Such attitudes can be self-perpetuating, Cumber said.

"When we have these biases, it hinders us as a group. People start to limit those parameters," he said. But seeing older people at risk or exercising "gives us an opportunity to test our age a little bit and expand what we think is possible."

Jamison learned what was in it for him in the marathon. He was given an IV on a flight from Australia to Dubai when a stomach ailment prevented him from eating for more than four days. In Spain, his feet swelled up and he struggled to fit into running shoes. Her lips turned blue as her sweat soaked clothes froze in Antarctica.

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Endorphins get them, like other runners, by going through protein bars and hand warmers.

"I wasn't going to give up," Jamieson said. But I spanned seven continents.

For 10 to 12 hours last week, he was out in an Arlington loft working as CEO of a firm that advises government agencies on infrastructure financing. After a week off, she returned to her usual routine of running, swimming, gym workouts and CorePower yoga.

Jill Jamieson shows off her marathon tires at her home in Arlington, Washington (Amanda Andrade-Rhodes for The Washington Post) Jill Jamieson shows off her marathon tires at her home in Arlington, Washington (Amanda Andrade-Rhodes for The Washington Post)

His 5-foot-3½ frame perched on a bar stool, Jamieson laid out elaborate plates on the kitchen island, including one representing each continent. It was not something he could have foreseen in his youth.

"Endurance running wasn't really my thing," Jamieson said, but she started running in her late 30s to help ease the stress of her father's Alzheimer's disease. "It was very thoughtful of me," she said. "It helped me control my emotions."

Olympians can be older and younger than you think.

He raised more than $12,000 for the Alzheimer's Association at this year's World Marathon Majors last week, and he plans to keep raising money until he runs another marathon on the glaciers of the North Pole in April. Just a few meters from the Arctic Ocean. Armed guards protect runners from hungry polar bears.

"I promised my dad I would go to the ends of the earth to find a cure, so I'm literally doing it," Jamieson said.

Steven Kotler taught a ski class led by Fisher, including 68 participants. Kotler, 53, advises veteran athletes to take a gradual approach rather than jumping straight into intense training.

"If you try to take on too many challenges, you're going to get hurt," says Kotler, who published the book Gnar Country. Growing up, he shared the experience of pushing his body on daring skis to stay rad. "Start where you think you are one step away".

With proper exercise and regular movement, it's possible to maintain bone density into the 80s and muscle mass into the 70s, says Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon in Lake Nona and author of Fitness After 40. But the elderly should do other exercises. , he said. "Lift heavy weights with low reps. Eat protein because we don't want to eat our muscles."

Many endurance athletes report that their performance improves with age. While some sports, such as tennis, require raw strength to compete at the highest level, activities such as long-distance running or swimming require a level of maturity that young people don't always have, says the 73-year-old. Ultra Endurance Swimmer Diana Nyad.

As a teenager, Niad dreamed of swimming from Cuba to Florida, a 110-kilometer stretch full of sharks, poisonous jellyfish and strong currents, which he called "the Everest of all the oceans on Earth." No one did without a shark house, and Nyad himself fell four times. After three decades, the death of his mother at the age of 82 prompted him to try again. Nyad was in his 50s.

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"I thought… even at my best, can I live another 20 years?" He said, "I became friends with [the late actor] Christopher Reeve…and he said, 'Are you happy with your life?' I'm not chasing big dreams anymore. And I sat there and thought. "I became a spectator. I'm no longer an artist. And that dream is there. It's still alive. "No one has ever swum from Cuba to Florida."

In 2013, Nayad became the first person to complete the degree at the age of 64 in his fifth attempt.

Diana Nyad completed her fifth attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida.

"I was better at 64 than I was at 28," he said. When I was young, "I want to have a CD, I want my name on there. It's not very inspiring. It doesn't get you very far. As long as you think about Stephen Hawking and the grandeur of the universe. . . . Now you have a heart big … and it's a much more inspiring way to collect what's in it."

Sally Sanger, now 67, has a surfing award she won last year in San Clemente, California. ©Jimmy Gray/Jimmy Gray Sally Sanger, now 67, has a surfing award she won last year in San Clemente, California.

Older athletes can also inspire teenagers. Sally Sanger, 67, a surfer from Santa Barbara, California, in her 30s and 40s when other surfers, mostly men, cut in front of her to catch a good wave. Now that he's getting older, they're retiring, he said.

That's what they think. "It could have been my mother or my grandmother," Sanger said. "I think they appreciate that I'm riding at my age because there aren't many of us."

Jamison said she experienced the same thing during the marathon.

"People kept saying, 'You're so inspiring,' and I think it was a way of saying, 'Hey, you're old, but you're still doing it.'"

But Jamieson was no longer the oldest, running seven marathons this year.

Another competitor from Oklahoma, Dan Little, was 80 years old.

"I look to Danny for inspiration," Jamieson said. "I see myself doing this in 20 years."

Carolyn Hartfield (74) of Atlanta began practicing alone in her 50s after a health concern. Now he goes hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, spelunking and ziplining. © Carolyn Hartfield Carolyn Hartfield (74) of Atlanta started working alone at the age of 50 after a health concern. Now he goes hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting, spelunking and ziplining.

Story editing by Ryan Bacich. Photo editing by Mark Miller. Video by Amber Ferguson. Copy editing by Paola Ruano. Designed by JC Reed.

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