Hooked on triathlons and none too soon
As men age, some take up golf, others tennis and a few softball, but not many choose triathlon – unless you are Gary Ferris.
Now 70, the Lincoln Hills Sun City resident decided to try a local triathlon a couple years ago and now even his less-than-stellar swimming skills can’t hold him back.
“I trained for about a week – running a bit and cycling once or twice, but I was a complete novice,” said the intrepid Ferris. “I used an old bike I’d had for years and I’ve never been much of a swimmer, (but) at the end of the race I was hooked on triathlons.”
So hooked, this past summer he covered more than 140 miles to win his division at the Ironman in Coeur’d Alene, Idaho, which included 2.4 miles swimming. That win qualified him for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii this weekend.
In three years, Ferris has performed in about 26 events; if you’re counting, that is more than eight a year.
To get ready for the Ironman, Ferris trains about seven hours a day. Each week, he cycles up to 200 miles, runs another 50 miles and swims 10 miles – not a typical retirement.
However, his favorite competition was the World’s Half Ironman in Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Canada. Held Sept. 7, Ferris splashed, pedaled and ran with 2,700 other athletes, including one 84 years old.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be age 70 and competing in triathlons. I enjoy the camaraderie with the other athletes and the drive to compete to the best of my ability,” said Ferris. “I do believe that my generation is rewriting the rules on what it means to be a senior citizen.”
Ferris finished third in his division in Quebec.
Sounding a little bit like a retiree, Ferris said he takes each event one at a time. As for his advice to others wanting to try triathlon, he said start slow and stay hydrated. Ferris said it is also nice having others around him like those who exercise with him at Del Webb.
“I train with a number of groups in Del Webb, consisting of the Lincoln Hills cycling group and the Lincoln Rats running group, who encourage and support me,” said Ferris.
Ferris not only credits them, but also his “amazing” wife for helping him get to where he is today.