The Long Run - February 2018
Albuquerque Wows 2018 NSGA Conference Attendees
Every year, NSGA hosts an Annual Conference for its Member Games, partners, and vendors. With the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana coming to Albuquerque next year, NSGA held the meetings there to give the host city a chance to put its best foot forward to show what athletes can expect.
To use a sports phrase, they knocked it out of the park.
The 2018 conference had the largest attendance in many years. Besides the three days of conference business, including the NSGA Annual Meeting, attendees also enjoyed two social events that gave them a taste of the unique heritage and culture of The Land of Enchantment. The welcome social, held at the Albuquerque Museum, featured a Mariachi band and a colorful dance performance by the Ballet Folklorio. On closing night, members toured the Pueblo Indian Culture Center, sampled authentic New Mexican cuisine, and enjoyed a dance and drum show and a soaring demonstration of native flute music.
Members also toured many of the sport venues and the Albuquerque Convention Center, giving games organizers plenty to take home to talk about with their athletes during this qualifying year. NSGA will be sharing spotlight stories on competition venues throughout the year in this newsletter.
The schedule included informational sessions, board and NSGA Foundation meetings, roundtable and regional meetings, and the NSGA Annual Meeting where new Directors were elected. Also, an Awards Gala featured annual NSGA Awards that were presented to states for excellence in website design, T-shirt, promotional packages, and health and wellness programs.
Please follow the link below to read all of the details about the events, awards, and board elections.
Surprise! Becky Wesley Ambushed by Family at Annual Conference
As reported in January, we must say goodbye to Becky Wesley, who is retiring in March after 20 years of service to NSGA. A big reason for her decision is because she wanted to spend more time with her husband and growing family of grandchildren. That was enough for staff to hatch a plot.
At an early Board of Directors meeting before the Annual Conference in Albuquerque, Becky was surprised to see her husband Dale enter the room, having flown in from Louisiana. But that was just the setup. At our gala dinner two nights later, Becky was given a slideshow tribute, but with a twist. Instead of just showing her family via a video message, all of her children and grandchildren from Oklahoma and Louisiana entered from behind the screen, creating an emotional response shared by all of the attendees.
"I was shocked to see Dale there, it honestly didn't register at first," Wesley recalled. "Then, to see the rest of my family at the gala was an incredible surprise. I will never forget the experience, and I want to thank you all for being such an important part of my journey!"
2018-19 National Senior Games Showcase Video Debuts
Our new promotional video was introduced at the 2018 Annual Conference. States and athletes can use this video to promote the Senior Games opportunity on the web, in social media and in meetings. Special thanks to Thomas Coiner with the Knight Eady group in Birmingham, who shot most of the video and compiled all of our great recap videos from 2017. Enjoy!
And Then There Were 54: Mexico Added to Qualifying Games Offerings
At the Annual Conference, the NSGA Board of Directors approved a two-year provisional membership to International Sports and Health Associates who will host qualifying events in Mexico: National Senior Games Mexico, held in Mexico City this April 27-29, and The International Senior Games of the Americas to be held in Cancun November 28-December 13. The events are open for any athlete to attend. This brings the number of NSGA member organizations to 54, the most ever.
The primary force in this connection is Jose Rodriguez, a well-known sports organizer who has been managing director of the World Olympian Association, a director of sports on the 1996 Atlanta Committee for Olympic Games, and CEO of USA Judo for more than a decade. The Cuban-American has been involved in many sporting events in Florida and Latin America, including the Pan American Games. His son, Stephen Rodriguez, is a former NSGA board chair.
The State Information page at NSGA.com is where you can click on the icon for the state you are interested in to find dates, sports, website and contacts. Please note that some Member Games are still finalizing sport venues and other details, and we will update their information as soon as it becomes available.
A World Class Destination
Each year, Travel & Leisure curates a list of the best places to travel in the months ahead based on recommendations of travel writers and their editors. They narrow the list based on what places are now at the forefront of the global conversation, whether for new hotels and museums or major international events. They also look at travel destinations that are perennial favorites to determine which ones are reinventing themselves, ensuring there's always something new to explore.
Guess who made this year's list of The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2018? That's right, Albuquerque, New Mexico, host city for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana. The Duke City is one of only nine U.S. destinations featured in the worldwide survey this year.<
Follow the link to enjoy browsing through some of the most amazing places on Earth, and read why each was selected. For senior athletes, Albuquerque will be the best place to travel in 2019!
HUMANA Heroes: Athlete of the Month
Father and Daughter Keep Each Other 'Running for Life'
There's a saying that "children give you a second chance at life." Rod McGregor agrees, since he was inspired by his daughter to get back on the track again after 30 years.
A current resident of Hudson, Ohio, Rod loved running in high school, and chalked up league championships in the 880-yard race in 1974 and 1975. But once he got started on a career and family, he hung up his competition cleats.
In 2012, Rod noticed his daughter Kate's own running passion was flagging. "Her high school freshman and sophomore years in cross country ended in injury," he explains. "She was sick of getting hurt and frustrated, and I could sense she was losing interest. I didn't want to see her throw in the towel, so I told her I would start running with her." However, Rod says he was "completely out of shape" and first had to lose 20 pounds so he could keep up with her training.
Kate got healthy as a junior and qualified for the Ohio high school state meet in cross country. Rod got hooked on running again and looked for opportunities. Hearing that the National Senior Games would be in nearby Cleveland in 2013, he decided to get serious. He trained hard, lost more weight, and won a silver medal in the 800-meter race in the 55-59 age group as his daughter cheered him on.
"My friend Steve Brumwell from California came in third," he recalls. "He told me I had an unfair advantage, because every time he came around he heard Kate's voice yelling at the end of the track."
Rod continued to compete in masters track and road races, and returned for the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Birmingham, taking a bronze medal in the 800 race for 60-64 age group. However, he is still haunted by that race. "I thought I was going to win," he says. "I had a 30-meter lead with 200 to go, and I was passed on the homestretch. I've replayed the race a thousand times in my head. I should have pushed hard in the second lap. By the time those guys passed me, I didn't have time to respond. I'll know better next time."
While Rod had to settle for the bronze, he says he's happy to be among good company. "The cool thing about Senior Games is that it's like a brotherhood. We want to beat each other, but it's not like we're at each other's throats. When you see the other guys putting in the time and effort and miles, there's a huge respect for one another."
As an example, he adds that the two runners who finished ahead of him (Gary Plank of Arizona and David Schmanski of Tennessee) and another athlete will be going to the USATF Masters Indoor Nationals in March to try to break the 60-64 age Men's 4x800 relay record.
Rod is proud of himself, but even more for Kate. "She's another redhead like myself, and we're very similar in a lot of ways," he observes. "She didn't compete in college, but she runs a lot and enters 5K races. She also has an interest in coaching. Around here we stress running for life, and I'm sure she will."
With renewed goals to continue in Senior Games, so will Rod McGregor.
We're always looking for great athlete stories! Submit yours, or nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you. Click here for the submission form.
Senior Health and Wellness
New Personal Best Athlete Feature - "A Newbie at 95"
"It's never too late to get into The Games" is a phrase we often use when promoting the opportunity for people over 50 to join the Senior Games Movement. 95-year-old Mary Kemp, the latest Personal Best athlete, is our 2018 Poster Girl that proves it is true.
The Ohio native, now residing in Boca Raton, Florida, has led a colorful life but never played sports other than some high school volleyball. So, when her son Glenn, a Senior Games basketball player, suggested she could have a good time and make exercise fun by running in the National Senior Games, she thought he was crazy. Good thing she agreed to try something new, as Mary surprised herself by beating out two experienced runners in the 50-meter for the gold in Birmingham last summer.
Enjoy following the extended conversation with Mary as she talks about her experiences, and the new chapter in her life that she is now writing. And watch for another powerful Personal Best feature coming in March!
How Old is Your Heart? Learn Your Heart Age
In 2015, we asked Senior Games athletes to take the "Fitness Age Test" and found out that the average athlete's body functions at a level 25 years below the chronological age. Amazing! So, what about your heart? Is the old ticker aging faster or slower than your real age?
The Centers for Disease Control offer a handy online calculator that will provide an answer. You will need to know your Systolic Blood Pressure, and Body Mass Index (BMI), and they provide a handy calculator on the page that will determine your BMI. Check it out!