Betsy Hall is like many people who participate in Senior Games–she loves it so much, she is motivated to tell others to get involved and keeps after them until they do.
The Ohio native was a late bloomer who did not participate in sports as a youth, but caught the running bug at age 45 after her overweight husband was told to walk and run for exercise and she went along to provide company. “He did it for about two weeks, and I just kept on going,” she says. She worked her way up to log three marathons while also enjoying annual track and road race competitions in local and multiple state Senior Games for 21 years before her knees gave out.
“I started in these Games back in 1993,” she recalls. “My husband and I often traveled in our motor home to the Ohio Senior Olympics and other states. I have qualified not only in Ohio but also Kentucky, Indiana, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Arizona. Meeting athletes from other states was awesome.” Betsy made it to four Nationals, but her last track appearance was 1999 in Orlando. “The year after that things went downhill physically,” she says. “I have arthritis and needed a knee and an ankle replaced. My surgeon put the brakes on my track and road races.”
A few years ago, Betsy moved to the Bristol Village retirement community in Waverly, Ohio, which offers recreational facilities but does not have an activity director by choice of residents, which means they organize their own play. Betsy had transitioned to table tennis to keep herself going and felt the urge to compete again and recruit others. “In 2016, I thought it would be neat to go back to the National Senior Games and get others to go, too. So I started talking it up among the people here to enter the local Southern Ohio Senior Olympics.”
Quite a few did. Betsy’s efforts resulted in 17 Bristol Village residents going on to the Ohio Senior Olympics in various sports, and 16 of them qualified for the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana. “Three of us went on to Birmingham. It would have been four, but one lady had a bicycling accident two weeks before that. She’s over that now and plans to go to Albuquerque. I have a grand daughter and two great grandkids there, so you know I am going again too.”
This year, Betsy reports there weren’t quite as many residents qualifying for 2019. “But one of them, who just turned 100, decided to retire while she was at the height of her glory,” she says with a laugh. “She still walks two miles to McDonald’s every day. After she qualified two years ago, the store awarded her free ice cream for life!”
Betsy is happy to be back in the Senior Games rhythm, even if her medal prospects aren’t as good as when she was running. “I’m not very competitive in table tennis. I did win a bronze medal the first time I competed, but it seems I am up against a lot more nationally-ranked women now. But it’s fun to go and participate.”
The ultimate reward, she says, is better health. “This is the way we stay young.”