Joe Moyer, 72, Columbus, Ohio
When Joe Moyer looked forward to his fourth straight trip to the National Senior Games, all he was thinking about was getting in shape to make a good time in the Triathlon event in Albuquerque. One year later, he would marvel that he even made it to New Mexico at all after life served up two major family challenges.
“Three months before The Games, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” Joe says. “Then, my 11-year-old son Andy had a seizure at school, and the MRI found he had a brain tumor.” Joe had begun radiation therapy, and Andy was scheduled to have the tumor removed in early July. He considered canceling the trip in June, but his wife Julie insisted that he go if he was physically able.
While not a gifted athlete, Joe has been active for much of his life, so he felt he had a chance to get ready. He participated in Basketball and Track and Field in high school, fraternity sports in college, and after putting his energy into years of building a successful asset management business, Joe knew he was slipping. “When I turned 40 I realized I was getting heavy and should be doing something, so I started doing duathlons in 1987, which is a run-bike-run type of event.”
Eight years ago, he was convinced to go to Florida for his first triathlon at age 64, and he learned about Senior Games. “I decided to go for it because I ‘only’ had to do 2 triathlons the year before the games to qualify,” he relates, adding with a laugh, “That sounded easy.”
Joe made it to Cleveland in 2013 and kept going, despite recalling the frustration of watching an 82-year-old streak by him. While he has not stood on the medal stand, he has thoroughly enjoyed his National Senior Games experience. But 2019 was a different animal, as he had to regain strength after five radiation treatments and was further burdened by a father’s worry for his son. “You don’t think that it does that much to you, but boy I was really tired in Albuquerque,” he recalls. “That was my hardest triathlon, with the altitude and getting over my treatments and everything.”
Joe had a positive outcome, and Andy is doing fine now after a seven-hour surgery that left him with a six-inch incision scar. “I think his experience was tougher than mine, and that’s how dads think I guess,” he says.
Joe is also very aware of the example he is setting. “We had Andy when I was 60, and it really made me think about wanting to stay in shape to be there for him,” he says solemnly. “When he looks at the fathers of his schoolmates, who are all much younger than me, he sees a lot of them are way out of shape,” he continues. “It feels good now to be able to haul bricks and cement and build a fire pit with him in the back yard.”
The message got through. When asked by his father what he thought about his dad doing triathlons at his age, Andy’s reply was simple: “Holy Crap, Dad. I cannot believe you do that!”
Joe is looking forward to return next year to the state where he first started tri’s. “I have clients in Florida, so it will be a great trip to Fort Lauderdale next year.” In addition, Joe’s wife Julie has done some triathlons and recently turned 50. “I think it’s just difficult for her to accept the fact that she’s old enough for participation in the Senior Games,” he chuckles.