This year’s Pole Pedal Paddle features new and familiar faces competing, but there’s one team testing their athleticism even in their golden years.
“My age helps the team win the mugs this year,” says 87-year-old Hilary Kenyon, a Pole Pedal Paddle participant. “I’ve always done the kayaking because to me it’s the safest.”
She is the kayaker of team “Ageless,” a team comprised of four residents and two staff members from Touchmark at Mt. Bachelor Senior Community in Bend.
“It’s just nice to be able to be in a big tournament competition and see all the different people.”
At 87 years young, she’s participated in the event seven times, and she’s won hardware.
“Well, I won one for every year I’ve been I’ve got seven mug. I just counted them.
“Physically, I feel fine all the time and I’ve done it three times this week and I never felt my arms.”
This year, she’s more than ready.
“Boy, there’s a lot of current going up the river and I was amazed. I do lift weights twice a week and I guess that helps.”
Another member of the team who describes herself “a cheerleader and coach” is Liz Rupar, a five-time mug winner in her own right.
She serves as Touchmark’s Health and Fitness Director helping the team of residents with an average age of 73 get ready.
“A lot of it is just encouragement throughout the year like, oh, have you been skiing? Have you been kayaking? Are you doing this or are you doing that? Just keeping people on task.”
Why the name ageless?
Rupar says, “We’re trying to find some classy name, classy name for older people. That wasn’t too cliché, that had a little grace. We came up with age lists and we’ve been able to have it every year.”
If you ask the team, they’re not too worried about their age or the competition.
“I really have no concerns. My only concern is getting the boat to the place, and I just know how crazy all that is,” adds Kenyon.
Rupar on the other hand is looking forward to the team crossing the finish line and in case you’re wondering about next year’s team “Ageless.”
“I start recruiting the day after it’s over, I plant the seed for next year,” says Rupar. “I hope to keep on doing this for many years in the future.”