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Old Editorials

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                      Memory Lane   

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                                     Old Editorials

 I thought some of my old editorials should be placed in the Memory Lane feature because they are quite dated. Most appeared in our print editions which was discontinued several years ago. Except for the more recent ones most of them dealt with the age discrimination we faced a few short years ago. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago most races offered age group competition to only 60 plus.
Getting  Race Directors to add a 70 plus age group was a big battle for the Silver Strider magazine.



by Jerry Dietrich
July/Aug – 2014

Welcome to a new age group. Those were my thoughts as I raced my first race as an 80 year old. First place, 10 grand prix points, life was good.

But wait, when I checked online results I was listed as the 3rd place finisher. They lumped everyone over 70 together even though I had received a first place medal. And a month or so later, Northwest Runner magazine did the same thing when they published their belated results. Then adding insult to injury, I was dropped from their best times list which only goes to 75 plus.

I guess they feel I should retire, but I don’t feel like retiring. Sure, I’ve lost about 20 seconds per year on my 5k time since I turned 60, but I don’t mind. As long as I’m competitive in my age group, why should I stop racing? Besides, I need races to keep me motivated to do my daily runs.

I can’t stop running because of health risks. I know if I stopped running, I would weigh 200 lbs in 6 months.

I apologize to those who think I am too old to be competing. I feel good all the time due largely to the fact that I run. Those who feel threatened by my good health, need to examine their motives.

I am not alone. See the South Sound Running TOP IO rankings for Washington and you will find plenty of runners and walkers over 80 years of age.



by Jerry Dietrich
Nov/Dec – 2013

It’s amazing how your perspective can change as you get older. I remember back in the 70’s, thinking how incredible it was for someone to be running if they were over 50 years old. It was unheard of for anyone to be running in their sixties or seventies. An 80 year old who was still running was unimaginable.

Back then, Betty and I owned a running store. We formed a local running club, published a newsletter and organized several races. One of the members of our running club was 51 years old. He was a heart attack survivor and had begun jogging on his doctor’s orders. In those days, encountering a runner over 50 was rare. But our teammate was running and racing. I was in awe! He was the only one over 50 at most races and had to compete against 40 year olds in the masters division.

Running and racing events have changed dramatically in the last 35-40 years. Needless to say, so has my perspective. It has been almost 5 years since the first issue of the Silver Strider magazine was published. People often ask me how and why the magazine was started. The answer is simple. There is a need to provide recognition for older athletes.

More people are out there running and walking than ever before. The days of a single runner over 50 showing up for a race have long passed. Look at the number of runners over 50 who are competing in today’s events.

In the Silver Strider Grand Prix Series, the most competitive age groups are the Men’s 60-64 and Women’s 70-74 divisions.

Remember how I used to think it was unimaginable for an 80 year old to still be running? Boy…has my perspective changed!

When scouring race results for the TOP IO, I am wowed by the number of runners who are over 80. Even though most races do not offer their age division, these athletes continue to compete.

Check out the TOP 10 list. The number of men competing in the Men’s 80-84 group continues to grow. So far this year, 11 men have been bumped from the TOP 10 rankings because their times weren’t fast enough. More runners are turning 80 every month. 14 women have been bumped from the top 10 W75-79 and 6 from the W80-84 during 2013. To date, 18 men have been bumped from the M75-79 age group.

The competition in the over 80 age group is inspiring. Runners like Richard Olafson, Barbara Macklow, Wilma Waters, Keith Wood and Rudy Gahler demonstrate the impressive capability of older athletes. As I near my 80th birthday this December, my perspective has definitely changed. I’m excited! A new age group! I can’t wait to accept the challenge.



by Jerry Dietrich
Sept/Oct- 2013

Every time I watch a sporting event where an expert assigns a number to an athlete’s performance, I am reminded of how grateful I am to be a runner. Running a race is simple. That’s what I love about it. We don’t have to deal with a panel of judges deciding who wins the race.

Take the Olympics. How frustrating! Was that platform dive a 7 or an 8? Uh oh…did that skater embrace her music? Oops…did that gymnast stick his dismount?
There is nothing subjective about racing. For runners, it’s pretty basic. Show up at the start, run your heart out, and cross the finish line.

Recently a new race was held in Tacoma – the “Independence Day 5k” was held on July 4th. It’s a point to point downhill course. So fast that it enabled many runners to shave minutes off their previous performances which affected some of the rankings in the Top 10.

I was contacted by a Silver Strider who felt a competitor in his age division was given an unfair advantage by running this race. He suggested that anyone who ran the Independence Day 5k should be disqualified from the Top 10 Ranking. I explained that course elevation loss was not a criteria for determining an athlete’s performance. The course was open to everyone who wanted to enter. Everyone who did the race had the same opportunity to post a fast time.

The Top 10 involves two technical points:
1.) Was the course the proper length? By recognizing only certified courses, that
problem is solved.
2.) Was the performance legitimate? If the runner wore their own bib and/or timing chip and stated their age correctly…the answer is yes.

Let’s face it. Runners are always looking for a fast course to post a good time. Sometimes they hope to get ranked in the Top 10. Sometimes they hope to qualify for an event like Boston. Sometimes they are hoping to get a PR.

Uphill or downhill, every one is running the same course.
With all the hundreds of races open to everyone who wants to participate, who would decide which ones are fair or unfair?

Do we want to riddle our sport with technicalities and rules?
Let’s keep it simple. It’s the running that’s important.



by Jerry Dietrich
July/Aug – 2013

Marsha Murray came up to me recently at a race and asked why we didn’t have Grand Prix Series T-shirts. I told her we’d thought about it in the past but decided it was too hard to know how many shirts to order and what sizes we would need. Marsha suggested having a prototype made and offering it to Silver Striders by special order.

Wow! Great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? We took her suggestion and unveiled the new T’s at the Grand Prix Series party in May. We offered the shirts in cotton or Tech and made them available in both men’s and women’s styles.

To make it fun, we decided to have two “T-Shirt Bonus” races. Everyone wearing their T-shirt to these races would get 10 Grand Prix Series points. It wouldn’t matter whether they finished first or last. Wear the shirt…get the points! We sent out an email blast and posted an announcement about the T-shirt Bonus Race on our website.

The response was great! The only objection we received was from some of our runners who said they don’t race in T-Shirts. They are the ones you see speeding by in the dead of winter, wearing a singlet or running bare-chested. We decided that runners and walkers wouldn’t have to wear their T-Shirts during the race. They would still get 10 Grand Prix points if they wore their shirt at the group photo following the race.

The Four On The Fourth (4 miles on the 4th of July) is our first T-Shirt Bonus race. It’s the 40th anniversary of this race and one you won’t want to miss. It’s your first chance to take advantage of the 10 Grand Prix Series points.

The second T-Shirt Bonus race is a mystery and will be announced online at least 4 weeks before it takes place. Keep checking the Silver Strider website to find out which race it will be. You don’t have to participate in the Grand Prix Series to order a shirt. They are available to all Silver Striders.

If you would like to order a Silver Strider Grand Prix Series shirt, contact me at jerry@ silverstrider.com.
Here’s the best part! All the proceeds from the T-Shirt donations will be used to support the Grand Prix Series 2013-2014 awards program.



by Jerry Dietrich
May/June 2013

May is an exciting time of the year for the Silver Striders. The Tacoma City Marathon on May 5th wraps up the 2012-2013 Grand Prix Series. This is the time we discover who made the Grand Prix Series finishers list. For some, it comes right down to the last race.

The Series which began last year with the Duvall 5k run spans an entire year with 23 races ranging in distances from 5k to the marathon. The Series encourages many runners and walkers to keep active throughout the year, even during the long winter months. In May, the annual Grand Prix Series awards party is held at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma.

This is the time we present trophies and gift certificates to the Series finishers and celebrate their achievement. Runners and walkers are given individual recognition for their commitment to a full year of fitness. A full report on the Grand Prix Series party will appear in the next issue.

The new Grand Prix Series is announced in May. This is the time we reveal the new schedule. The 2013-2014 Grand Prix Series will have some exciting changes and additions. Once again there will be 2 Bonus races which will remain a mystery until they are announced online. The new Series kicks off on May 26th with the Good Karma 5k in Seattle.

This year, we have another cause for celebration in the month of May. The 2012 Silver Strider male and female Runner Of The Year will be honored at the awards party on Saturday, May 11th. The recipients are Bill Iffrig and Judy Fisher, pictured on the cover of this issue.

Bill Iffrig finished number one at all four distances in the Top 10 for 2012. At the age of 79, his performance dominated the 5k, 10k, Half Marathon & Full Marathon distances in his age division. He was the only male to rank number one at all four distances.

Judy Fisher, age 69, posted the highest age graded performance for 2012. Her 92.38 world class mark was for the 10k distance. Judy also posted world class times in the 5k and the half marathon. She was the only runner (male or female) to post world class times at 3 distances.



by Jerry Dietrich
March/April – 2013

I often receive emails from runners and walkers asking how they can “join” the Silver Striders. My response is always the same. You don’t have to join. If you’re 50 years of age or older, you are a Silver Strider. The Silver Striders are not a club. We don’t have a membership roster. We don’t collect dues. We are just a group of seniors who share a common interest…fitness.

I have been thinking about this and I suspect that the reason some people think we are a club is because they see us together at races. They see us gather together before the race to visit and afterward to take a group photo and go out for breakfast.
The Grand Prix Series is responsible for this.

When the first series began in 2010, we had a total of 11 finishers. The following year we had over 30. This year the series will end in May and it looks like we could double the number of finishers.Most of you are probably familiar with the Grand Prix Series. We have 23 races on the Series schedule. A runner needs to finish 8 of those races to be a Grand Prix finisher.

At the conclusion of the Series, every finisher is rewarded with a trophy and gift certificate presented at an awards party. The Grand Prix Series has become our most popular program because it provides recognition to all runners and walkers. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy the rewards of this series.

One of the intangible benefits of the Series is the friendships that have developed and thrived. It has given runners and walkers the opportunity to get to know each other in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. In my opinion, this is the most rewarding benefit of the Series.

With this issue the third Silver Strider Grand Prix Series will come to a conclusion. The last race will take place on May 6th. The awards party will be held at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma on Saturday, May 11th at 1:00 pm. If you are reading this, I would like to extend my personal invitation to you.



By Jerry Dietrich
Jan/Feb – 2013

I am an optimist. I have a reputation for being one of those people who see the glass half full. Recently, to my surprise, I discovered that I am not alone.

Over 77 million baby boomers are turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day in the U.S. This incredible growth spurred the NCOA,(National Commission on Aging) United Healthcare and USA TODAY to create the United States of Aging Survey.

The survey took place during the summer of 2012 and included 2,250 U.S. adults aged 60 and older. They were asked to give their perspective on numerous issues, including their health and wellness.

The study revealed that a majority of seniors share an optimistic outlook when asked about their “quality of life”. According to this study, “Older Americans are optimistic about their health and say they are healthier than ever”. The majority of those surveyed expect the quality of their lives “to stay the same or get better over the next 10 years”.

More than half of the respondents exercise or are physically active at least four days per week. They expect to maintain their physical and mental health. An amazing 92% report that they manage their stress levels well, 84% say that they will be able to maintain their health over the next 5 to 10 years and 80 % expect to manage their health on their own.

It’s great to see this kind of joyful outlook on health and fitness in seniors! I believe that keeping fit and being optimistic go hand in hand.

At the Watch Your Speed 5k last November in Fircrest, 61% of the runners and walkers were age 50 and above. That’s impressive! There were many smiles on the faces of runners and walkers as they crossed the finish line. Ask those finishers how they feel about their future and they would tell you they were already planning for their next race.

As we head into 2013, I am optimistic that this is going to be a great year for Silver Striders.

South Sound Running has agreed to become the Title Sponsor of the Silver Strider Top 10 List. TCMA and SHOES-n-FEET are co-sponsors of the Grand Prix Series.
These sponsors have enabled us to provide prizes and awards for the Grand Prix Series. On behalf of all Silver Striders, I would like to express our appreciation for their support.

A new “Surprise” race has been added to the Grand Prix Series. It’s the Birch Bay 15k and it will be a “Bonus” race. All finishers will receive 10 Grand Prix Series points, regardless of their finish place. Whether you finish first or last, it’s your chance to earn 10 points.

It looks like we will have more finishers in the Series this year. It’s exciting to watch it grow and see how many runners and walkers are enjoying this program.
No wonder I’m optimistic. 2013 should be a great year!



By Jerry Dietrich
Nov/Dec – 2012

It has been nearly three years since the first issue of the Silver Strider was published. Have we met the goals we set out to accomplish in our Mission Statement?
As the year 2012 draws to a close, I thought it would be a good time to do a report card. Here is how I grade the Silver Strider.

Mission: To give a voice to runners and walkers over 50 years of age.

Looking back over the past issues, I was astonished to see how many Silver Striders have shared their experiences with our readers.

You have sent in articles dealing with your lifestyle choices, race reports, running tips, advice, inspirational moments, issues of concern to our pocketbooks, and my personal favorite…your walk down memory lane.

The first issue featured Judy Fisher’s thoughts on being “The Vegan Runner“.
Back in November of 2011, Steve Yee gave us a report titled the “Half Fanatics Saga” motivating a hoard of runners over 50 to become half fanatics. In subsequent issues, we learned about Marilyn Bodily’s “7000 Steps of Nepal” and Dave Sherman’s harrowing experience when he did “A Run At The Beach”. Roger Dean shared “The Most Important Health Tip Ever” and Doug Woollen offered advice on “Stretching: How Much Is Enough?”

We were inspired by Jerry Benoit’s reminder that “Running Started My Life” and educated about the high cost of racing in “The Discounted Senior Runner” by Bruce Fisher.

With humor and some nostalgia, we laughed along with Elbert Field in his “An Arresting Story”, Janell Holycross in “Marriage Is A Marathon” and “Racing With My Daughters” by Ruggles Larson.

There are countless articles and stories that you have sent in to the Silver Strider…too many to list in this editorial.

But I can say, with confidence, that as the voice of runners and walkers over 50, because of YOU…The Silver Strider earns an “A”!

Mission: To give motivation through friendly competition and recognition.

The Grand Prix Series has been the vehicle the Silver Strider has used to accomplish this goal.

The series started in June 2010. At first, there were few finishers in the series. It took awhile for you to find out about the series and get motivated to play.

Once the word got out, we began to receive requests on how you could sign up. You were surprised to find out that no sign up was necessary. Just show up for the races listed on the schedule and you were in. Participation tripled the following year and this year it’s growing by leaps and bounds.

The series keeps you motivated to get in your 8 races throughout the year. Your name and points listed in the magazine gives you recognition. The prizes and trophy you receive at the annual awards ceremony is the reward you receive for your effort.

Has the Silver Strider fulfilled it’s goal in this capacity? I modestly say…you bet! And give it an “A”.

Mission: To overcome age discrimination through education.

Okay, lest you think this editorial was going to be entirely self-congratulatory, I’m afraid in this category, the Silver Strider has a lot more work to do.

The Silver Strider includes a Top 10 list that has no cap on age divisions.

We have contacted race promoters and encouraged them to offer equality to runners in upper age groups. But it is often a futile effort.

Some of you have responded to our editorials by taking up the banner and personally writing to race directors on this subject. Our congratulations to Richard and Barbara Olafson and Edythe Hulet who have made this their cause. We appreciate their efforts. The Silver Strider will continue to do battle on your behalf.

But I’m sad to say, the best score I can give The Silver Strider in achieving this goal is a “D” for disappointed.

Mission: To promote a healthy lifestyle through fitness.

I’m glad to say we can end this report card on a more positive note.

The Silver Strider has published many articles on nutrition and the benefits of exercise. “Green Exercise” was one of your favorites. Joan Hogan has frequently shared her knowledge as a nutrition expert with our readers.

A healthy lifestyle is encouraged by the Silver Strider when we meet as a community of runners and walkers at races.

So many of you have commented on the friendships you have made with other runners and walkers since you were introduced to the Silver Strider. This has encouraged you in your fitness programs and promoted a healthy lifestyle. I’m delighted with this!

I would like to see even more runners and walkers over 50 participating in a fitness program.

The Silver Strider has done well but we still have room for improvement. I give us a B in this endeavor.



By Jerry Dietrich
Sept/Oct – 2012

How Old Is “Too Old”?
Most of us get to decide for ourselves when we are too old to continue an activity. One of my recent decisions involved climbing onto my roof to clean or remove tree limbs. I have a two story home and the roof is moderately steep. I no longer want to climb up on my roof. There are probably many people older than I who think nothing of climbing onto their roof. That’s good. My decision is that I don’t want do it anymore.

The point is, it was my decision. I also decided not to do any more marathons. I’ve always raced my marathons as hard as possible. I did my last Marathon at age 60 in 3:39:40. I was getting slower and I decided that the training time involved, along with the longer recovery time, interfered with my busy racing schedule. I like to do 30-35 races a year. Again, this was my decision.

Now to the point. I think you’ll agree that deciding that you are too old to do something anymore is fine as long as you are making the decision.

How about when someone else decides you are too old for something? This person who is deciding that you are “too old” might be very young. Loan officers, doctors, driver’s license clerks, race directors, employers, and many others, may think that you are “too old”. I remember the time I applied for a 30 year home mortgage. I was 65 at the time, had a 30 percent down payment, and good credit. The loan officer suggested that my application would be stronger if I had a co-signer. I told him that I would ask my father.

Several of my friends have retired from racing, having made the decision for reasons of their own. The older you get the more obstacles you encounter. Friends or family may discourage you. They are thinking of “your own good”. If you are slow enough, aid stations might be closed up and gone when you arrive during a race. Doctors unfamiliar with sports medicine will order patients to stop running to cure a minor injury. “Stop running and buy a stationary bicycle” my doctor told me when I had an ankle injury at age 43. I decided on a different solution. I changed doctors.

The only person to listen to is yourself. You will know and accept when it is time to put aside some of your activities. Just make sure it’s your decision.



By Jerry Dietrich

Jan/Feb – 2012

Have you ever heard of a runner setting a world record and finishing 15th in his age group?

Hard to believe isn’t it? Strange as it may seem it happened to Fauja Singh at the Toronto Marathon last October.

Singh set a world record in the marathon for his age group. Yet, he did not place, or receive a trophy of medal. Not even a ribbon for his achievement.

The organizers of the Scotia Bank Marathon decided it was fair that he should compete in the 70 plus division. Since Singh was 100 years old, he only had to give away 30 years to the division winner. They thought it was fair that he should place 15th in his age group.

The practice of age discrimination is, unfortunately, common at most races. Race organizers lump all their over 70 runners and walkers into one age category. Ironically, they expect them to pay the same entry fee as the other runners who are offered 5 year age grouping.

Their argument for lumping all runners and walkers over 70 into one age group is that that there are too few participants. They believe it is okay to discriminate against a minority.

Where does that leave an athlete who falls into the “plus” age group? Why enter a race that doesn’t recognize you? Why pay an entry fee for a race that doesn’t acknowledge your existence or efforts?

I have been dealing with this dilemma for 25 years. From the time I turned 55 until I was in my mid sixties, I had to compete in the 50 plus category. This a sore subject with many of our readers who are experiencing this discrimination themselves. They have asked the Silver Strider magazine to address this issue.

To do this, we need to rally runners and walkers of all ages. If it doesn’t affect you now it will sooner than you think. Unless we all oppose age discrimination, you will some day find yourself in the victims shoes.

The Silver Strider gives recognition to older athletes by including them in our Top 10 rankings and the “Grand Prix Series”.
But these are the walkers and runners who show up at races. What about the ones who stay at home rather than compete against younger athletes?

It has been proven that when older divisions are offered, participation increases. Why does the Salmon Run get 15 finishers over 80? Three were over 85!

You need only to look at the results from the Senior Games to realize that is you offer their age, they will come.

However, even if there is only one participant, it is the opinion of the Silver Strider that there should be an age group for everyone. Would the 25-29 age group be eliminated if only one runner showed up?

We should be encouraging, not punishing, our elder population to keep active. Let’s quit punishing them and start treating them equally.

Next time you go to a race, let the race director know…we want all runners and walkers treated equally. It’s time for a change!

After a little research, here are some of the local victims of age discrimination during the last 18 months.

Can we ignore injustice of this magnitude in our sport?

Barbara Macklow, Gail Everett, Patricia Johnson, Esther Norton, Esther Lott, Diana Anderson, Donna Iffrig, Eleanor Hull, Nadyne Meteyer, Barbara Olafson, Dolores Nijos, Beverly Helton, Chloe Parr, Gwen Phibbs, Lulu Waldron, Bulah Hillstrom, Doris Phillips, Patsy Kahn, Barbara McHargue, Ananlene Swenson, Wilma Waters, Marianna Vansil, Margaret Harrison, Regina Ciambrone, Jean Greene, Rossa Zemek, Carol Cressy, Constance Nicholson, Darlene Norkoski, Nancy Stricker, Sylvia Quinn, Bill Iffrig, Peter Marshall, Ron Brinton, Richard Olafson, Jerry Dietrich, Joseph Lee, Bill Brotten, Dell King, Hershel Backues, James Price, Todd Evans, Will Arnett, James Postma, Dale Hall, Paul Flanagan, Keith Wood, Rudy Gahler, Jaim Hages, Jack McCarn, Tom Hagen, Lucio Deloreto, Peter Despot, Bill Eckenrode, Murray andrews, Calvin Brown, Charles Millman, George Kyrszis, Mel Preedy, Bill Kerr, Fred Locke, Gerold Shubiger, Willem Weertman, Court Steinke, Dan Anderson, Simy Magway, Phillip Norton, Quin Finnigan, Sam Young, Richard Rosekrantz, Bill Moore, Howard Slack, Kala Jan, Solveg Beck, Donna Pratt, Evelyn McCants, Lucille Kay, Virginia Beresford, Buelah Hillstrom, Robin Cook, Phyllis Zasimovich, Nelda Monteleone, Jean Ferry, Louise Chervak, Phyllis Johnston, Beryl Bucklin, Mark Dales, Armando Aguila, Don Clark, William Arnet, Roy Wright, Dennis Barnes, Dave Harrison, Hank Batten, Kathy Bainbridge, Mary Schaefer, Dorthy Putnam, Neil Barber, Jim Urness, chuck Preble, Ron Book, Malcolm Bohlman, Jeff Andes, Betty Cowan, Helen Shaw, and Charlotte Grosskrueger.


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