My Heroes

People like these are my heroes.
Meet Tom Rylance, age 76…


…and his rival Jim McKellar aged 77

James McKellar

James McKellar

I caught up with these guys last week on a sports channel showing highlights of this year`s Windsor Triathlon.

There were two distances in this triathlon: Sprint with its 750 swim, 20 k bike ride and 5km run and Olympic with its 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike ride and 10 km run. Both gentlemen competed in the Olympic event. Of course.

Down the Thames

Down the Thames

Isn`t triathlon just lovely to watch on TV? And Windsor Tri looked great. Shoals of swimmers took to the River Thames. Soon it was a heaving mass of angled arms and thrashing legs. For the most part, the TV crew followed the elite athletes.

Transition Area One

Transition Area One

As they came from the water and worked their way through transition one area, it was thrilling to see them make the necessary adjustments as efficiently as possible. Caps and goggles off, helmet on, bike unclipped and soon, they`re running barefoot with their bikes to the Stage two start, before wedging their feet into their runners which have already been hooked on to the bike`s pedals.

And then they`re off…


Emma Pallant, to the right of this pic, went on to win the Women`s Tri


The elite look sleek in their tri gear. All lean and tanned,  they glide along with apparent ease.

But it`s the real people I am looking out for. The less sleek, the more breathless, the slow ones dragging up the rear. People like me. People I won`t even show pics of here as I was too embarrassed to reveal my own finish line pic just a few months ago. Glasshouses and stones and all that.

The TV crew doesn`t disappoint, though. It even interviews a couple of them, all smiling and joking but hoping too to score their own personal victories on the day.

And then we see some real winners: Tom and Jim.

The camera crew catches up with them in the running section of the tri. The Windsor running section is tough as it involves looping around the same section three times and that included a hill. We catch up with Jim on one of those hills and he stops for a brief chat before giving the camera crew the thumbs up and a huge grin. He is a delightful guy and plainly enjoying himself.

I love when I see guys like Jim and Tom still taking part in these mass sporting events. I am frequently overtaken by many men like them, after all! It`s a huge thumbs up for the health benefits of exercise. And for learning, and exercise being for life.

In a world that encourages a highly competitive environment in sport and in lauding the handful who can push the boundaries in what the human body can achieve, the rest of the human race are consigned to being armchair sports participants. And the armchair is literally killing them.

Jim and Tom took to the podium together at the end of their epic tri. Tom had beaten Jim into second place. But, with all the interest shown in the running and triathlons in the past few years, I`ll bet there will be more  competition in these categories in years to come.

And where were the women? Where indeed. It something I have noticed when out running. The older men are there and probably have had a lifetime of sport and exercise behind them. The older women are very rare birds indeed. That`s changing slowly though it would suit me very well to have just one or two people competing in my age category in years to come!

I am looking forward to taking my place on the podium one day. I don`t even need to win, sure, third out of three would be grand. But I`d love to keep fit enough and well enough to participate in races.

And in this, I am inspired by my heroes who keep on keeping on.




You can read Emily McLouglin`s blog post on her Windsor Triathlon here

And James McKellar can be found here.



19 thoughts on “My Heroes

  1. My son-in-law and nephew both do these events. They are indeed exciting to watch, especially the event change. I was a runner for many, many years until my back gave out. Now I walk 4 miles a day. Still have a slight twinge of “withdrawal” when I see runners go by.

    Kudos to these gentlemen. Here in America, with our epidemic of obesity, it is wonderful to see these stories and one would hope those at risk would be inspired.

    Good post.

    • An active life stands to us all in later life, whether we can keep up that level of exercise or not. Walking is terrific. And the main message is that we all need to move in some way shape or form. Obesity is a big concern here in Ireland, and in mainland Europe too.

  2. Lovely post! So inspirational. I’ve just started (yet another) get fit routine, currently swimming every day and was listening to a couple of older men (late 50s?) in the sauna chatting about their triathlons and wondering if I could ever possibly be fit enough. I walked/ran my first 10k this year by accident (thought I’d entered a 5k) so you never know. Like you said, just to be there would be an achievement in itself. Best of luck with your next one 🙂

    • Thank you for your lovely comment and for following, Dee. Oh, I know all about starting new get fit routines! I`ve done that more times than I care to remember! The thing that kicked the running for me though, was -and is-signing up to races. There`s really an aim for all that training then. Forgive yourself when you don`t stick exactly to the plan, try not to let two days go by without doing something and hang on for the ride! Oh, and don`t forget your rest days!
      Congrats on the 10k. My first race was a 5k. It was long enough for my first run!

  3. Nice post RH. Yes, some of those old guys are amazing. And a Jersey lad won the National Ironman for the second time yesterday! We have several ‘older’ ladies in our group (one who is 73) no longer competitive of course but determined to hang onto a healthy lifestyle.

  4. If you haven’t already, try looking in on the NHS couch to 5k website ( – I know there are quite a few older women over there, as I’m mid fifties, and I’m not the oldest by a considerable way! I haven’t done very much running lately, but I did go swimming in the sea last week, and I got new tyres for my bike a couple of months ago – so maybe I’m nearly ready for a triathlon. Or maybe not quite yet. 🙂

    • Love it! With new tyres and a swim you`re well on your way! Seriously though, having looked at the definition of sprint triathlon, it`s actually not all that hard. The thing that bugs me is having to buy a new bike and a wetsuit. I just love that running is so damn cheap in comparison.

  5. What a lovely profile of those two. And, yes, I’m glad to say that in the years to come, I think we’ll see more and more women up there in their later years, too (we’ll be some of them!). 🙂

  6. Wow, great post Red Hen! I agree with you, seeing people a few decades ahead of me running totally inspires me – they are my role models. When I say see them running it’s way off in front of me because they are much faster.

    • Haha! Me too! Actually, on one five mile run as I was heading towards the finish line heard the commentator calling out the name of a lady in the 65+ category who was, obviously, well ahead of me. But yeah, I kinda hope that will be me some day!

  7. Hmm, very interesting point. I’ve been running for a whole 9 weeks (!) and while I have seen lots of young people of both sexes, and some older men, I have not seen any women over the age of about 40. Are they going to the gym instead? Or not doing any exercise? (And they are certainly not powerwalking, that is really not a French thing to do!)

    • Yes, the absence of running women interests me too Sorcha. It`s hard to look glamourous when you run, I think that`s the real reason for French ladies not wishing to sweat it out. For older Irish ladies I think it`s other reasons. Something I`ll revisit soon in my blog.
      Hey! Congrats on nine weeks of running. Fantastique! You`re over the hump of starting and being discouraged. Sign up for a race soon and enjoy!

      • Good on you! Wish I`d started sooner! I found runkeeper useful when I started out and still use it on occasion. It`s an app for your phone and tells you how far you`ve gone, km per hour. And even gives you a route map which can be useful if you get lost!

      • Oh I’m a bit of a phone luddite, it’s just a basic phone-and-text Nokia! So no apps for me! But I have an MP3 player and I have some good podcasts. I use google maps to work out my route and to calculate the distance.

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