85-year-old local man fights Amalfi Coast

DICK GRAVES

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Summer time is the perfect season to train for that 5k you’ve wanted to do, or an obstacle race you had on your bucket list.  Many of us will run at least a few in our lifetime, others might never get to it. One man is pushing the limits with over 500 athletic races completed, and he’s not slowing down.

With more than 500 races under his belt, Dick Graves is no stranger to competition. But at 85-years-old, he’s planning to bike the Amalfi Coast.

Four days a week, 2 hour sessions, and lots of sweat, that’s a typical week’s workout regimen for Dick Graves.

“I swam 800 yards that takes me 25-30 minutes, and then I went into a spinning class, and they have 45 minute classes. Then I came home, and felt pretty good so in the afternoon I went out for a three mile run,” said Graves.

Graves’ hundreds of athletic accomplishments can’t be ignored with trophies lining every nook and cranny of his apartment, and jars of medals stacked neatly.

“I have done 100 triathlons. I’ve done 30 marathons. I have done a whole bunch of 5k. I have done swimming competitions, Olympic games for seniors. They have competitions for us ‘over-the-hill’ guys.

He has proof to back it up. Graves started racing at age 39, and kept a log book since 1975 of every race and finishing time.

“I wish I could go back and capture some of those times,” he said.

Even though he can’t go back in time, every birthday he challenges himself to “outrun” his age with his athleticism.

“When I was 82 years old, I look at the calendar registration stuff, and saw there was a half marathon down in Nashville, so I did a half marathon on my 82nd birthday.”

Although Graves does a lot more than most people his age or even 15 years younger than him, he admits getting old is frustrating.

“I think I was pretty good until 78 or 79 years old, somewhere in there. You slow down a little bit, and start slipping down a slope like this, and then all of a sudden at 80-ish or so you kind of dip more severely, so it’s been disappointing to see,” he said.

Most people his age have a different idea of exercise.

“One guys said to me, I play bridge every Wednesday night. That was his definition of being physically fit. It’s just a whole new ball game,” he said.

Graves faces another challenge besides his age. He has a pacemaker and a leaky heart valve.

“My wife is always saying you should take up gold or something like that,” Graves laughs.

But the slow pace game of golf isn’t for graves. It wasn’t too long ago he was running 11 marathons a year, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Great Wall of China. In the fall he’ll be biking the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Biking 20 miles a day, but he says that’s an easy ride.

“It feel a little lazy to me.”

Graves said the secret to keep pushing at his age is a steady pace, eating right, taking it one step at a time. Graves says you have to eat right, too.

“Pepsi and milk dudes,” Graves laughs.

Maybe Pepsi and Milk Duds won’t increase my pace on my mile time, but his relentless will to keep one foot in front of the other, might be the key.

“I guess just ambition and desire to do it. Also, the reluctance to admit I can’t do those things anymore, and keep going,” said Graves.

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