By Nancy Huth
Ray Barnum, a graduate of Cardinal High School, went to Albuquerque, New Mexico to run in the National Senior Games. He’s back now and spoke about his experience.
“My wife and I just celebrated our 50th anniversary in March,” he said. “We hadn’t been on an extended trip since 1990 when we camped throughout New Zealand for six weeks, so we decided to make our trip to Albuquerque another adventure. Since we had never been in the Southwestern part of the US, we decided to spend 5 weeks travelling throughout New Mexico, Arizona and southern Colorado. We visited ten National Parks, including The Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Parks, and several interesting cities and other locations.
“In the middle of that the trip we spent eight days in Albuquerque where I ran three track events in the Senior Games. Since this was my first national competition and because I would be running against the very best runners in the 70-74 age category, I didn’t expect to win any medals. In my first event, the 1500M (the metric mile), I was very nervous and it was really hot. I ran about 30 seconds slower than my best time. But I didn’t finish last. In the 400M and 800M events I was very happy to finish in the top half of the competition. In those two events, I was within a few seconds of my best times ever. I felt great about it, since ABQ is a mile-high city, and running is much more challenging in thinner air.”
Barnum also related that the mayor of Albuquerque told the audience at the Opening Ceremony for the Games that nearly 14,000 athletes would be participating. That made it the largest ever gathering of athletes for any competitive event in the world. (The Summer Olympics in Tokyo are expected to have about 11,000 participants.) The Games consist of more than 20 types of events for people, all requiring some type of athletic skill and some events are the same as those in the International Olympic Games. The Games are open to Seniors 50 and older. Very few of the participating athletes compete expecting to win a medal. Only the top eight in each event are awarded medals.
One of the positive developments in our society today is that Seniors are interested in and participate in local, state, national and international athletic events. This comes in part from our increased interest in healthy living, which includes being physically active. Ray and Linda met several very interesting people at the Games. In some cases, they were participating grandparents who had children and grandchildren with them taking vacations in conjunction with the Games.
“Both the competition and the extended trip were positive, rewarding experiences,” Barnum said. “I’m even more excited about competing now. I took a month off from training since coming back. But now I’ve started preparing for the National Senior Games in Ft. Lauderdale in June of 2021. I think Linda and I still have the best years of our lives in front of us.”
Nancy Huth grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Notre Dame College and Cleveland State University. After teaching English for a few years, she married and moved to Germany where she taught English as a second language for 30 years. In 2005 she and her German husband Dieter moved to Middlefield. Nancy has written for the Post since 2007.