Great Physical Achievements for Seniors over 70 Part 2

About a number of senior citizens who have achieved great acts of physical strength and endurance.

GREAT PHYSICAL ACHIEVEMENTS AFTER 70

EDWARD PAYSON WESTON

Hundreds of people were gathered at the city limits, bundled up against the winter gales, straining for a glimpse of him. "Here he comes!" came the shout when the great athlete, still only a speck in the distance, came into view. Policemen lined the street in an effort to keep the crowd under control. A mighty cheer arose and the crowd made way for his approach, only to come forward again as an uproarious bodyguard for the remarkable man. A marathon runner? Long-distance cyclist? No. It was Edward Weston, pedestrian.

Always a dandy, the 71-year-old man, who usually wore tight-fitting britches, stout brogans with red tops, a round-top light silk hat, and buff gloves, was dressed a little more heartily for this stage of the trip. Weston had just reached Chicago and had endured a series of storms ever since reaching upstate New York. Trudging through blizzards, some times crawling through snowbanks that left his automobile accompaniment hours behind, Weston claimed that the only thing that bothered him was hunger.

This was the third hike that brought Weston to Chicago. Having grown up weak and sickly, he began walking to improve his health. He took his first long walk at 22, covering the 443 mi. from Boston to Washington in 208 hr. His first famous walk was six years later, in 1867, when he hiked from Portland, Me., to Chicago, Ill.--1,326 mi. in 24 days 22 hr. 20 min. After Weston had accomplished several such feats in America, the English, with their great tradition of pedestrianism, invited him to a competition in 1879. He amazed them when he walked 550 mi. in 141 hr. 44 min. and won their prized Astley Belt.

Weston's most famous walk was his first trip across the continent, made in 1910 at the age of 71. He walked 3,895 mi. in 105 days, but due to excessively bad weather he arrived five days later than he had planned and considered it the "most crushing failure" of his career. His last great walk was made when Weston was 75 (he lived to be 90). Invited to lay the cornerstone of the Minneapolis Athletic Club's new clubhouse, he decided to walk the 1,546 mi. from New York City to Minneapolis. It took him exactly 51 days.

Weston spread the gospel of pedestrianism wherever he walked. Doctors who examined him at 70 said that the usual deterioration of men Weston's age was not noticeable.

His secret? "I rise at eight, go to bed at 2 A.M., and invariably nap for an hour and a half after dinner. I eat a simple diet, avoiding rich food, especially pastry, and only indulge in tobacco and alcohol occasionally. And I walk 12 to 15 mi. a day every day except Sunday, when I never take exercise."

FLORRIE BALL

Known as a motorcycle enthusiast, Ball couldn't understand why her insurance company suddenly refused to reinsure her. This cyclist from Lancashire, England, had been riding for 26 years and had never had an accident. At 77 she could still do a 200-mi. trip easily. After a year of trying to get reinsured, Ball finally found an insurance broker who would cover her.

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