Doylestown triathlete Edward Haines, 76, defies the calendar

At 76, Edward Haines says his triathlon times aren’t getting any faster.

But, he adds, he isn’t slowing down either.

Which, in the world of multi-sport, means he’s getting more competitive because almost all folks his age seem to be losing a step or two.

The Doylestown resident chuckles at the notion that his performances should somehow mean something special to the swim-bike-run crowd.

Frankly, he’s just happy he’s still out there, keeping himself fit. And if the awards and plaudits continue to come in, well, they’re just a bonus.

The retired U.S. Army physician took up triathlon for rather unconventional reasons: His legs were taking a beating from running and he decided to incorporate the cross-training benefits of cycling and swimming to keep himself moving.

“I really couldn’t run enough distance anymore to keep myself at the fitness level I wanted to,’’ he explains. “My body is getting old and wearing out.’’

A Chicago area native, Haines studied medicine at the University of Illinois and attended medical school at the University of Chicago.

This was during the Vietnam War era.

“At that time, virtually a hundred percent of physicians got drafted,’’ he says. “I did my residency in San Francisco in the Army at that time.’’

He liked what he was doing and spent 27 years in that career, then did some consulting work before retiring.  His daughter, Mary, lives in Doylestown and that helped precipitate the move here.

There are great training roads and trails in this area on which to train, plus there’s the Central Bucks YMCA for year-round swimming.

With plenty of time to get in shape, he’s done just that and will be headed to the 2018 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships next month in Cleveland.

While he isn’t getting to the finish line any quicker, he often finds himself at or near the top of the awards podium.

It was a long journey to get here.

“At 41, the Army told me that I had to run,’’ he says. “I hadn’t run since college. We had to do a two-mile (fitness test) run twice a year and so I started running then.

“I didn’t get addicted to it but I did enjoy it. When I retired, my knee started bothering me. I was ready to quit but my grandson convinced me that if I changed to minimal (training) shoes, that my knee would not bother me anymore.

“It turns out he was right. I now run in a sandal-type shoe. It works for me.’’

Edward and his wife, Elaine, have two children – the aforementioned Mary and son, Robert (who competed in crew at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy).

 

When Edward races, he always has a good time.

Like in the Philly Triathlon, where all the competitors had their age written on their leg.

So it was easy for people to spot this aging warrior and give out a shout of encouragement.

“Usually, people say something as they go by me,’’ Haines says with a laugh. “I did the Revolutionary Run on July 4. I stop and walk if my pulse gets up over 170, so I stopped for a bit around the 4-mile mark.

“Some lady said, as she passed me, ‘thank god you finally stopped to walk so I could pass you!’ She’d been chasing me for a couple miles.’’

Next month’s competition in Cleveland will be a good test. Haines was going to attempt the Olympic distance but is settling for the sprint (750-meter swim, 12.5-mile bike, 5K run).

While winning a medal might be nice, the greatest accomplishment will be completing the course in a timely fashion.

That’s what makes guys like him such an inspiration.

 

Race calendar

Saturday, July 28

30th annual Run for the Hill of It 5-Miler, 8:30 a.m., Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. Contact www.mcapkids.org

 

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 380 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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