Athlete is positive role model at age 82

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Here’s yet another story from the annals of preternaturally active older Americans: Bob Gralley, an 82-year-old resident of Oak Crest retirement community in Parkville, MD, recently completed the running portion of the Columbia Triathlon, which took place between Ellicott City and Columbia.

Gralley was a part of an Erickson Retirement Communities relay team that consisted of Executive Director Craig Erickson and Business Process Improvement Director Jen Tillman. Gralley set a record as the oldest person in the annual event.

“I did better than I thought I would do because it was a really hilly course,” said Gralley, who spoke to me on May 19, just a day after running the 10K (6.2 miles).

He ran the race in one hour and 10 minutes – not a personal best, he noted.

Maybe not for him, but Gralley’s time sure is impressive. In fact, his participation is also quite admirable. Not only is he rare to run the triathlon at his age, but he is exceptional for running one at all. It’s people like Gralley who make the rest us feel as sluggish as fries left sitting in day-old gravy.

Gralley is in good health for his age, he admits.

“I’ve been very fortunate in life,” he said. “I have had no problems that would halt me from exercising. I expect to continue as long as I can.”

He doesn’t show signs of slowing up. He runs the Baltimore Marathon each October with his son. While he ran the race fastest in his 50s, today he completes it in about five hours and 10 minutes. (Not too shabby, if you ask me.)

In case you were wondering about his exercise routine, he runs at about 9 or 10 a.m. at the Erickson community from Monday through Friday and bikes on Saturday. He runs about 20 miles every week.

Outside of running, Gralley leads a full life. He plays bridge with his wife. He also moderates a computer group and is involved in church activities. There are more than 100 clubs on the campus, he said.

“If you can’t find something to do it’s your fault,” said the father of three and grandfather of three.

His advice for staying in shape?

“I think you have to enjoy exercise to start with,” he said. “That’s the good part of it. You also have to realize the importance of it, especially as you get older. It keeps you in healthier condition and mentally healthier. It makes you feel better about yourself.”

Something for the rest of us to remember tonight as we sit in our La-Z-Boys reaching for the remote.
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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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