The Long Run - October 2019

Association News

Another Honor for NSGA - The Sterling Friendship Award

The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) was honored to be presented the 22nd Sterling Friendship Award at a gala event held on September 27 in Chicago. CEO Marc T. Riker was on hand to accept the award from Friendship Senior Options President and CEO Stephen Yenchek, and brought along 77-year-old area senior athlete Margaret Olawoye of Chicago as a guest.

The Sterling Friendship Award annually honors an individual or group making an extraordinary impact on their community while embodying the highest ideals of aging with grace. The event raised money for the Friendship Senior Options Foundation, which fosters philanthropic giving and volunteer service opportunities.

Notable previous recipients of this award include Dr. Joyce Brothers, Willard Scott, Art Linkletter and AARP. Last year’s recipient was Dr. Robin Stone, a noted researcher and leading authority on aging and long-term policy for LeadingAge LTSS Center at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Complete News Story at

Game On!

NSGA Announces Sport Changes for 2021

Every two years following The Games, the NSGA Board of Directors acts on recommendations made by the Games Committee based on staff observations, sport trends and public input. As a result, one sport has been removed, one elevated to qualifying sport status, and three new open sports will be added for the 2021 National Senior Games presented by Humana. Here’s a summary of sport changes:

Horseshoes Removed - After many discussions and research, the National Senior Games Association (NSGA) Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to remove horseshoes from the National Senior Games competition.

The NSGA has been closely monitoring the participation numbers in the sport of Horseshoes since 2008 and have found that the numbers have declined over the course of several National Senior Games. Some of our state senior games might choose to continue to offer horseshoes, just know that it will no longer be a qualifying sport for the National Senior Games.

Power Walk Upgraded – Due to its successful debut as a 2019 open sport, Power Walk has been elevated to full qualifying sport status for the 2021 Games. Athletes will need to compete at a 2020 Senior Games State Qualifier in order to participate in the 2021 games. All athletes who compete in Power Walk at a 2020 NSGA qualifying games will qualify for the 2021 National Senior Games.

Power Walk was an open sport for 2019 to jump start interest, and the results were impressive. In 2018, 34 states included power walk in their games and 471 athletes competed in Albuquerque this year.

Three New Open Sports Added - The following open sports (no qualification needed) will be added to the lineup for the 2021 National Senior Games in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

  • Cornhole – Several states already offer this growing sport, also known as bag toss.
  • Soccer 8v8 – There will be men’s and women’s age divisions. The 8v8 format will be played on a smaller field.
  • Beach Volleyball – This competition will feature teams of four in both women’s and men’s age divisions.

There were also a few other rules changes approved for specific sports. NSGA staff is currently working on updating the 2020-2021 Official Rulebook and will make it available soon on the NSGA website.

October Athlete of the Month

Smoking the Competition

It’s rare for a runner to win best overall times in both the 5K and 10K road races in a National Senior Games. It’s only happened four times in our 32-year history, most recently in 2011. Now, James Jackson of Denton, Texas joins that elite group with his performance at the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana.

Many runners in North Texas have been reading the number on his back since he was a two-time high school All-American. “I competed through my early 20s and had qualified for the Olympic Trials for the 5,000-meter race, but I got injured shortly before the trials,” he recalls. “The plan was to go back to training and try again, but life started happening with a baby on the way. Next thing you know it was 15 years before I got serious again.”

James, now 53, had continued with jogging for exercise, but it wasn’t until his son Cameron rose as a high school elite runner that the competitive juices started to flow again. “I had a little beer belly and my initial goal was just to get back in shape. But after some time running with him, I lost the weight and got back in at 42. I’ve been at it ever since.”

He has chalked up numerous masters level wins and once he turned 50, his sights set on adding his name to our record books. “Two weeks prior to New Mexico, I had run over a minute faster than your overall-time record in the 5K, and a month before I ran 33:08 in the 10K, so I was thinking I could get both of those records,” he says. “I know I had the altitude thing going against me being from Texas, but that was my ultimate goal.”

However, his first two days of practice jogs in Albuquerque were difficult and on the morning of the 5K “I felt horrible before the race, and hesitated to go out at a fast pace, but after a mile I felt I could pick it up. I was so surprised when I looked back and thought ‘Oh my gosh, where is everybody?’” His 5K time of 17:39 landed him third on NSGA’s all-time list.

James felt better for the 10K race but encountered a challenge. “At the split I was just a few seconds off my 5K winning time, so I really went after the 10K record. But with a mile to go, I started cramping in both calves,” he recounts. “I freaked out about not finishing, so I backed off a little. At that point I just wanted to get to the finish line in one piece.”

Like most highly competitive athletes, despite finishing far ahead of the entire field twice, the professional personal trainer and running coach was somewhat disappointed about missing his goals. “I was thinking the altitude had something to do with it, so I was excited to find out the 2021 Games in Fort Lauderdale will be at sea level. I might also run the 1500 on the track.”

“I’m enjoying this more now than I ever have,” he observes. “There’s the challenge of staying injury-free as I get older, but I plan to do it as long as I can. The National Senior Games was one of the neatest experiences ever. I’m super competitive and want to go for as many records as I can get.”

More Athlete of the Month Stories in News Section at

We want to hear more great stories! To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you, Please Click Here.

Senior Health and Wellness

NSGA and Ambassadors Step Up Falls Prevention Day Activity

The Mission Statement for the National Senior Games Association is to “promote health and wellness to adults 50 and over through education, fitness and sport.” NSGA has always advocated this mission, and from eight years of collecting data from the Senior Athlete Fitness Exam screenings we now have powerful evidence that keeping an active lifestyle has a major mitigating effect on the incidence of falls. Maintained activity can even help prevent them from happening, whether you play Senior Games or jog regularly in the park.

That’s why you have seen more falls prevention topics in our communications. NSGA and its members are becoming a larger voice on this most important issue for aging adults, and our athletes are driving the message by their very example. For the 2019 National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, NSGA Director of Health and Wellness Andrew Walker coordinates our campaign and has been working with partners such as the American Council on Exercise to increase falls prevention communication. We’ve also had NSGA Member States from New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, Georgia, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and others who shared messaging. Momentum is building.

2019 Falls Prevention Day message - DeEtte Sauer

We are especially excited to see a number of athlete ambassadors rising up at the state level, many recording their own videos to share about avoiding falls. Swimming gold medalist and Personal Best feature athlete DeEtte Sauer of Houston recruited a professional videographer for the excellently produced video you can view above.

Our thanks to all who are contributing to spreading our message – and our mission – to ever greater audiences!

Can Dietary Supplements or Other Natural Products Relieve Pain?

Pain is the most common reason for doctor visits with many individuals turning to complementary and integrative health approaches for solutions. The following article and eBook resources from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health provides a credible overview of the evidence for complementary and integrative pain management products.

A few dietary supplements and other natural products have shown promise for helping to manage certain pain conditions. For example:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids of the types found in fish oil may have small beneficial effects on rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
  • Probiotics may be helpful for symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • There’s evidence that the herb cayenne, administered topically (applied to the skin) may reduce low-back pain. Other herbal products that have been studied for low-back pain and that have shown some promise include comfrey and lavender essential oil, used topically, and white willow bark and devil’s claw, taken orally. However, the evidence for these herbs is not as strong as that for cayenne.

For more information on these and other natural products for pain, download our eBook, “Pain: Considering Complementary Approaches.” It provides information on a wide variety of complementary health approaches that people may use to help manage pain. It also explains issues you should consider to make sure you’re safe when you use complementary approaches.

Download the eBook

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Walking in the Light
Gone, But Never Forgotten
05 November 2019
Athlete of the Month
Kathy Meares, 72, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Kathy Meares has never needed to be told to go out and play, and her youth was filled with sports. ...
07 October 2019
Athlete of the Month
James Jackson, 53, Denton, Texas It’s rare for a runner to win best overall times in both the 5K and 10K road races in a National Senior Gam...
01 October 2019
News and Events
The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) was honored to be presented the 22 nd Sterling Friendship Award at a gala event held on Septemb...
01 September 2019
Athlete of the Month
Alice Walker, 87, Chester, South Carolina Editor’s Note: NSGA is a partner to promoting National Falls Prevention Awareness Day each Septemb...