Tri-ing new things

When 67-year-old Terry Dunscombe began competing
in triathalons two years ago,
he proved it’s never too late
to pick up a hobby
Sunday, April 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:33 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Terry Dunscombe biked 15 hours last week. He ran for three hours and swam for two. He also spent hours in the gym lifting weights. He did about 1,500 stomach crunches and attended a pilates class.

Not bad for a 67-year-old man.

Dunscombe, a triathlete, is training for several upcoming competitions, which involve a combination of swimming, running and biking various distances. Although he only began training and competing in local triathlons two years ago, Dunscombe has already won his age group, 65 to 69, several times.

“I do OK,” he said.

Dunscombe’s training regime averages about three hours a day, although he sometimes takes a break from one of the workouts if the previous day was particularly difficult. But as much as he trains, Dunscombe said he could always do a bit more.

“I don’t get up at 4:30 in the morning like some of these guys,” he said.

Instead, Dunscombe prefers to schedule his training around his usual daily routine. That way he still has time to do the household chores while his wife is at work. It also allows him to spend time with his two children and five grandchildren.

As the date for the next competition approaches, however, Dunscombe spends more and more of his time training. He said he never tires of the workouts.

“Training is really fun for me,” he said. “It keeps me focused, and I get to jump in the pool and swim.”

A self-described “runt” in high school, Dunscombe also gets satisfaction from knowing some younger athletes can’t keep up with him.

“I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “And I’m getting better.”

As much as Dunscombe, a retired division manager at State Farm Insurance, has benefited physically from his training regime, he’s gained just as much emotionally. Although he misses the cameraderie of the workplace, he’s found a new group of buddies at Wilson’s Fitness Center and the Columbia Multisport Club.

“The gym is my little community,” said Dunscombe, who also serves on the mayor’s Council for Physical Fitness and Health. “I’ve developed some good friendships because I got into this.”

Besides, he adds, “It keeps me out of Booche’s shooting pool.”

Dunscombe’s wife, Vicki, has also gotten in on the fitness act. She won her age group in the first race she ever entered, a 5k run in early March.

Meanwhile, Dunscombe’s long-term goal is to compete in an Ironman competition — 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 miles of biking, followed by a 26.2-mile run.

“You jump off the bike and you run a marathon,” Dunscombe said. “But you have to work your way into longer distances.”

Until then, he will settle for a half-Ironman, which consists of half of the distances of a full competition. Dunscombe’s next race is the Merrill-Lynch Race for Sight on May 2, which features a 300-yard swim, a 17.5-mile bike ride and 3.4-mile run. In June, he’ll compete in the Halfmax Triathlon at the Innsbrook Resort, near Wright City. He’s also planning on competing in smaller races such as the Show-Me State Games in July.

In all his races, Dunscombe said his goal is to win his age group.

“I don’t like to lose,” he said.

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