Thursday, September 14, 2006


I will admit that I am a sucker for a good human interest story. I am especially vulnerable to those tales involving an indomitable will. Must be from watching "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" as a kid. *S*

The first year that I volunteered at the Cheesehead Ironman I learned the story of Frank Farrar. I was working one of the bike aid stations when I suddenly hear everyone cheering for one of the riders near the back of the pack. I asked one of my coworkers what all the racket was about and he told me "That was Frank". I obviously looked blank so he informed me that Frank was in his 70's and was by far the oldest Ironman participant. As always, there was a LOT more to the story.

At that time, 2004, Frank Farrar was 74. He is also the former Governor of South Dakota and a successful attorney. In 1992 he was informed he had terminal cancer and had maybe 6 months to live. His reaction? He started training even harder and now in 2006 he is still doing triathalons. Despite advancing age and bad knees he continues to participate. He has failed to complete the last 3 Ironmans in the alloted time of 17 hours but he never leaves the course until he is finished. I was there at 12:02 the other nite when the now 77 year old Frank once more failed to make the cut off. The cheering from a crowd of tired volunteers was INCREDIBLE. I hope I am half that tough.

Once more we see that the amazing thing is not how well the elephant flies, but that it flies at all.


Freewheel said...

May we all be that tough in our old age.

Chrissie said...

WOW! ... my first reaction is incredible!!! of course on the heels of that is... fuck me. I'm only 38 and couldnt finish one now. :o/

Fantastagirl said...

Wow - if we all had that determination with anything we started - just think what the world would be like.

Wish the youth of today could get that determination.

sage said...

Wow, I hope I'm like Frank in another quarter century.

Notsocranky Yankee said...

I like to hear those stories too. I bet having him participate helps keep the volunteers motivated also.

Åsa said...

I get so teary eyed when I hear things like this! How wonderful for him to keep going! It’s promising for this world when there are people out there who just don’t give up.

sage said...

Was in the gym yesterday talking to a lady who did the WI Ironman this year (I'm not sure her age, but would guess she is in her mid60s). She did it in 14 hours, and wasn't pleased with her time, but said the weather held everyone back. She was one of three from here that travelled up to do the race. I knew she'd done it before so I asked her about it---this was her third year in it

mal said...

Freewheel- Amen!

Chrissie- not to worry! I am more fit at 53 than I was at 38 *S*.. Besides, you have had to deal with a whole bunch of other issues the last 10 years

Fantasta- me too. I really do worry about the health of the next generation

Sage- me too

Not So- It does help keep us volunteers motivated. It also helped how many particpants thanked us as we were doing hand offs

Asa- Stories like that always renew my hope in humanity

Sage- she finished a few minutes behind the kid. If its who I think it is (Ms L) than she has NOTHING to be ashamed of. The rain really did slow down the riders. Riding wet roads uses a lot more energy than dry ones

Liz said...

That's amazing. I always have a soft spot in my heart for old guys like that.