In this Edition:
- 100-Year Storm Expected to Hit Albuquerque
- Flame Arrival Ceremony to Ignite The Games, Celebrate New Mexican Culture
- Dr. Elmo Brings Christmas in June to Albuquerque
- And more!
Release: 2019 Games in Albuquerque Boasts Record-High Athlete Attendance
Event will showcase #RealSeniorMoments of healthy, active aging
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – New Mexico has 13,712 reasons to be excited this summer.
That’s the number of athletes age 50 and over who will compete in 20 medal sports at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana taking place in Albuquerque June 14-25. This represents an all-time high participation in the 32-year history of The Games, exceeding its past record of 12,000 athletes tallied in 2007 by 14%. Even before this increase, the Olympic-style event was the largest multisport event in the world for seniors.
The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) attributes much of this success to the efforts of the host organization to promote the destination’s unique cultural offerings, excellent sport venues and the city’s commitment to provide well-organized games to qualified athletes. “The host team aggressively marketed New Mexico by visiting many of our 54 qualifying games during 2018 with a welcoming spirit,” NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker said. “They also hosted our annual conference in Albuquerque and converted the state organizers into ambassadors to tell others these would be special Games.”
100-Year Storm Expected to Hit Albuquerque
The first question most people ask is “Who are your oldest athletes?” While we like to showcase abilities from across the spectrum of our five-year age brackets that start at 50-54, it’s true that everyone, including our athletes, have deep respect and admiration for our eldest participants.
Well, get ready because a Category 5 “Hurricane” warning has been issued for New Mexico, as that’s the number of competitors 100 and over who will participate in the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
The centenarian parade begins with Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins of Baton Rouge, LA, who is returning at the age of 103 to attempt to break the women’s 100-meter dash world-record time she set at the Birmingham games in 2017. The race will be next Tuesday, June 18 at the University of New Mexico track and field stadium at 9:15 am. Julia has competition in this year’s race from Tennessean Hollyce Kirkland, who will also compete in swimming events and power walk in the top age category.
Another super-senior matchup in golf will bring together 100-year-olds Raymond Lokers from Michigan and Lindsay Tise from North Carolina for their third meeting. That match tees off Monday, June 17 at 1:06 pm at the Santa Ana course. Lokers will also bowl. Finally, Wyoming multi-event track athlete E. Gerald Meyer may be the most excited person among this elite group – the retired chemistry professor was born in Albuquerque a century ago.
“Everyone always asks about the oldest athletes, and they are truly inspiring,” NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker comments. “But we have amazing athletes and examples of healthy, active aging at every level of The Games.”
Flame Arrival Ceremony to Ignite The Games, Celebrate New Mexican Culture
Let the Games begin! The Flame Arrival Ceremony on Saturday, June 15 at 7 p.m. in Civic Plaza will serve as the official kick-off to the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana. After welcoming remarks from Albuquerque officials, local organizers and NSGA staff, selected New Mexico athletes will carry the torch from the downtown RailRunner station to the plaza and light the ceremonial cauldron. A colorful program, Noche de Fuego (Night of Fire) by De Oro Productions, will follow, presenting the rich history of New Mexico through dance, music and song.
Civic Plaza is located next to the Albuquerque Convention Center and City Hall. For information on transportation to and parking near the venue, visit the NSGA transportation and parking page found here. Athletes – don’t miss this opportunity to be part of history as we open the largest National Senior Games ever.
Live Stream of Track and Field Announced
In a late-breaking development, NSGA has partnered with New Mexico Senior Olympics to offer live streaming of track and field competition at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana!
You can view coverage at the University of New Mexico track stadium every day from Sunday, June 16 through Thursday, June 20 by either visiting the home page of NSGA.com or by visiting the National Senior Games Facebook page. Tell your friends and family to “tune in” to enjoy the action!
“We are pleased to be able to conduct this as a ‘beta test’ to explore how we might expand to cover more sports via live streaming for The Games in 2021,” said NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker.
Packed Activity Schedule for The Village
Villa Ernesto Ramos: The Village Health & Wellness Expo, located in the Albuquerque Convention Center, is the hub of activity for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana.
All athletes will visit The Village once to check-in, but Games organizers have lined up a full slate of activities and entertainment that will keep competitors coming back for more. Daily offerings in The Village include group exercises, music performances, interactive demonstrations and educational seminars. For fun, Humana even has a booth where athletes can get a free photo showing them on the cover of Sports Illustrated!
A full listing of each day’s schedule is available in The Village Daily, a print flier you will find in multiple locations throughout the convention center.
Need a break from the action? Browse a variety of customizable apparel at the official merchandise booth or put your feet up in the lounge area with charging stations. The Village is also where vendors will display a variety of health, wellness and lifestyle goods.
In short, there’s plenty to see and do in The Village. Make it a priority stop on your Games itinerary!
Keystone Express: Community Sponsors 30 Residents to Attend The Games
In February, we featured runner Heide Moebius of Lancaster, PA, as NSGA’s Athlete of the Month. Heide had the time of her life celebrating her 80th birthday by running the Athens Marathon in the cradle of the Olympics a few months ago. Read story here.
We also discovered that the place where she lives, Willow Valley Communities, was sponsoring her to attend the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana Games this year. Not only that, the facility has been sponsoring its residents who qualify to go to The Games since 2005, when five athletes were brought to nearby Pittsburgh when the Steel City hosted The Games. The number has grown steadily each time, and the management continued with its support. This year, an amazing army of 30 athletes, including Heide, are coming in Albuquerque on Willow Valley’s dime.
“Ever mindful that increased longevity is integrally related to a person’s mental and physical fitness, Willow Valley Communities embraces active and healthy lifestyles,” says Willow Valley Living CEO John G. Swanson. “We provide several fitness centers, walking trails, fitness clubs, and other innovative amenities to residents who look to enhance their active lifestyles. We’re very proud of and enthusiastically support our teams of senior athletes who compete, and win, in the local and National Senior Games.”
NSGA applauds this best practice and welcomes athletes from Willow Valley!
SAFE Screenings Help Athletes Stay Healthy and Games Ready
For any athlete, maximizing performance and staying healthy are always top of mind.
The Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE), offered at the National Senior Games, helps competitors do just that. SAFE is a series of strength, flexibility, balance and cardiovascular health assessments that identify an athlete’s fitness strengths and areas for improvement that can help prevent injuries.
This year, the SAFE area in Villa Ernesto Ramos: The Village Health & Wellness Expo will feature an education station providing personalized feedback on exam results.
SAFE was introduced to the National Senior Games in 2011 by University of South Dakota professor and board certified physical therapist Dr. Becca Jordre. Data collected from SAFE exams is used in Dr. Jordre’s research on healthy aging and has been published in multiple journals. Learn more about SAFE research here.
Dr. Elmo Brings Christmas in June to Albuquerque
By now, you’re seen the famous names being promoted for Growing Bolder’s Launch Pad to What’s Next LIVE program set for next Tuesday at the historic KiMo Theater. Olympic swimming legend Rowdy Gaines – check. Journalist and endurance athlete Diana Nyad – check. Emmy-winning Growing Bolder founder Marc Middleton – check. Dr. Elmo…wait, who the heck is Dr. Elmo?
Elmo Shropshire hails from Lexington, Kentucky but has lived in Novato, California for many years where he is known as a retired veterinarian, a bluegrass picker and a serious mid-distance runner. In 2012, he won his age division in the U.S. National 5K Cross Country Championship in San Diego. In 2013, he won a gold medal as part of the USA 4×400 relay team in the World Master’s Games in Porto Allegre, Brazil.
“Dr. Elmo” is also the man who gave the world the smash hit holiday novelty song “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” We caught up with Elmo when he visited the Florida Senior Games in 2016. Read our Athlete of the Month story here to learn how it all came to be. As he told us then, “It’s amazing how big it got. For six years, it replaced Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ as the most popular Christmas song. Wow!”
The 80-year-old runner will compete in the 400-, 800- and 1500-meter track events plus the 5K road race. At the Launch Pad to What’s Next LIVE program, he will talk about the importance of physical activity for his health and well being. And yes, he will sing his song for the audience.
(Update: RSVPs are full – For ticket availability, please stop by the 2021 Games Booth on June 17th at the entrance to Villa Ernesto Ramos: The Village Health & Wellness Expo.)
Elmo, who is usually seen with a huge smile, exudes holiday spirit wherever he goes. He tells us he really likes New Mexico because they cook with red and green chile and even call the combination ‘Christmas,’ saying, “You have to love a place that celebrates Christmas every day!”