Dave Kirgan, 62, Bowling Green, Kentucky
As a race walker, 62 year old Dave Kirgan of Bowling Green, Kentucky knows the importance of finding a rhythm and focusing on fine details to keep moving. He also knows all too well the consequences of falling out of rhythm.
A career Air Force man, Dave kept in shape and always aced his annual fitness test – until he was allowed to pursue a degree and sat in a classroom. “When it was time for my annual mile and a half timed run, I wasn’t ready,” he recalls. “Once you break the exercise habit, each day it’s easier to forget about it. After failing that test, I decided to start running and soon became an ardent student of running and fitness.”
Wanting to help others lose weight, Dave started an aerobics class on his base that became mandatory for anyone on the overweight roster. His rhythm returned with a renewed passion for martial arts and endurance running. But when he retired in 1994, there weren’t any more fitness tests to pass and he stopped exercising completely. “Over the next seven years, my once 30 inch waist went to where 38 pants were cutting into me. I got good at not seeing my reflection in the mirror.”
On the day he turned 50, Dave stopped at a gas station and found himself out of breath just from cleaning his windshield. The wakeup call brought back his running rhythm, but two years later a torn Achilles tendon dealt another blow. “It was never comfortable after that, but I wasn’t going to quit. I decided to try race walking which was easier on my sore tendon.” In 2006, Dave did better than expected in his first competition, and a fellow competitor urged him to go to the Kentucky Senior Games. Dave has always qualified for the National Senior Games since then, but could only attend Louisville in 2007 and again last year in Cleveland. In each case he reached his goal of finishing in the top 10 for his age group, and his sights are set on another good finish in Minnesota next year.
There is one more constant rhythm to Dave’s story – a passion for writing that goes back to his Air Force days contributing health and fitness stories to the base newspaper and doing a weekly squadron news letter. “To keep my thoughts flowing now, I write short articles on several health and fitness oriented websites and have also been contributing articles to Walk About Magazine.” In fact, we discovered Dave from the inspirational messages he occasionally posts on The National Senior Games Facebook page.
He is also working on a book called Panda Endurance. “The title comes from the fact that pandas are going extinct and there is nothing they can do about it, but people often make a conscious decision to shorten their own lives by not exercising, over eating, smoking, and ingesting chemicals from processed food and soft drinks.”
Dave Kirgan says he will never lose his rhythm again now that he’s found race walking. “It really is the fountain of youth,” he says. “I take no medications whatsoever. I’m not being treated for anything except minor sports injuries.”