Great Physical Achievements for Seniors over 70 Part 3

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



While dancing in her disco class, 77-year-old Corinne Leslie noticed that there were many older women like herself with energy to spare. On an inspiration, she formed Leslie's Pompom Squad, a group of cheerleaders who perform at women's fast-pitch games in Sun City, Ariz. The squad dances Rockette-style to disco music; sometimes Leslie stands on her head while another dancer, Foofie Harlan, performs cartwheels. handspins, and splits. The group always receives standing ovations.


Finis Mitchell is a 77-year-old explorer and mountain climber. He has climbed 251 peaks in the Wind River Mountains of western Wyoming. He carries 50 lb. of gear on his treks, which last until his food runs out, a maximum of 17 days. Mitchell has named hundreds of mountains, glaciers, and lakes, and is a photographer and the author of Wind River Trails. There are only 50 Wind River peaks he hasn't climbed, but that shouldn't present much of a problem for Mitchell, who is sure he'll climb until he's 90.


Bill Kane was dubbed Vaquero of the Year at the Old Spanish Days Rodeo in Santa Barbara, Calif., when he and his partner, Eldon Tucker, defeated 14 other pairs of competitors in the Old-Time Cowboys Team Roping event. Two years later, at 82, Kane is still riding rodeo. A rancher from the age of 10, he has competed in over 3,000 rodeos. "I expect to be around for some time yet," he says. "I never let anything interfere with my daily workout. You can't stop for a while, If you do, you're a goner."


Marian Hart has flown more than 5,000 hr. since she began to fly 30 years ago, at 54. She has made several solo transatlantic flights in a single-engine plane, including one in her 84th year.


A sickly orphan, Macfadden felt challenged to improve his health after overhearing an aunt whisper that his rasping cough indicated he would soon go the way of his mother--death from tuberculosis. He began lifting weights and soon developed his own philosophy about the human body. By the time Macfadden was 20 he had become the publisher of Physical Culture, a magazine that grew to have a circulation of half a million a month. He was now able to familiarize the public with his concept of psychocultopathy--healing diseases by fasting, health foods, and exercise. He purchased several pulp magazines, including True Detective and True Romance, and built up a fortune estimated at $30 million. He donated $500,000 to the Bernarr Macfadden Foundation with the hope of perpetuating his efforts toward what he termed "physical culture."

For exercise, Macfadden enjoyed taking long hikes barefoot, often carrying a 40-lb. bag of sand on his back. He was particularly fond of the game leapfrog. He always slept on the floor, even in the most expensive hotels, which led to problems with the maids and sensational stories in the press. His 81st birthday was the occasion for his first parachute jump. He fell 4,000 ft. at N.Y. near the estate of his "physical culture" hotel, and landed unhurt. He told the public that the jump was on the order of leapfrog. On his 83rd birthday Macfadden parachuted 2,500 ft. into the Hudson River, and he jumped again the following year near the Seine. Seven ambulances and 200 reporters stood by in Paris to watch Macfadden, on his 84th birthday, wearing red flannel underwear, fall 900 ft. A good half mile off target, he missed the Seine, as well as the giant police cordon that was meant to protect him from the crowd. He landed on his feet, did a jig, and told the crowd he felt "damn good."

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