Mary Lane of Soldotna puts in another lap around the Peninsula Center Mall on Friday during the walk-a-thon event, part of the third annual Senior Olympic Games.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Kenai Peninsula senior citizens had the opportunity to exercise, socialize and have fun this past week during the third annual Senior Olympic Games.
“Our goal is to get seniors out and being as active and independent as they can,” said Ken Losser, one of the organizers of the event.
The senior centers in Kenai, Soldotna, Nikiski, Sterling, Seward and Homer all served as co-hosts for the games.
The games began Tuesday and Losser said participation by those 50 and older continues to grow with each year.
“It went from 60 individuals competing the first year, to 84 last year and 110 this year,” he said.
There were a variety of events again this year.
“Some of the events are athletic,” said Losser, speaking of sports such as basketball, bowling, pingpong, the walk-a-thon, pool, darts and shuffleboard.
“We also have some events for the crowd that doesn’t want to, or can’t, participate in athletic events,” he added.
For these participants there were events such as bridge, cribbage, pinochle, dominoes, tripoly and poker, according to Losser.
Mary Lane, 80, of Soldotna said she enjoyed the more active events because they better fit her lifestyle.
“I’m really active,” she said. “I do line dancing, hula dancing and I go to Curves three times a week.”
Lane also takes regular strolls, which is why she signed up for the walk-a-thon event.
“I usually walk every day anyway, so I decided to give it a try,” she said, and like the other nine people entered in the event on Friday, Lane was wearing a groove into the floor at the Peninsula Center Mall.
“They try to see who can do the most laps around,” said Michelle Borden, who was overseeing the walk-a-thon event.
Borden said the walk-a-thon takes place for two hours a day, over a three day period. Roughly 6.2 to 6.5 times around the mall was equivalent to one mile.
“Some of the participants did seven and eight miles yesterday, which is pretty good. Some of the participants are 60 to 84 years old. This is quite a bit of exercise for these folks. They’re really pushing themselves,” she said.
Borden said many of the participants had worked months to get into shape to compete in the walk-a-thon.
“Some of them have been training since October. When they started, a few could only walk a mile in an hour and they’d have to keep sitting down, so they’ve come a long way,” she said.
As to why someone in their golden years would work so hard for a gold medal, Lane said it is not about the awards, but the rewards of exercise.
“You have to exercise. That’s the name of the game. It keeps the body and mind going,” she said.
The Senior Olympics concluded Saturday with an award ceremony at Ginger’s Restaurant in the mall where gold, silver and bronze medals were given out to the winners and all athletes received a certificate of participation.
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