70+ year old triathletes in The Villages compete

70+ year old triathletes in The Villages compete

Barbara Mathewson, left, of the Village of Amelia; Joanne Lavoie, of the Village of Buttonwood; and Donna Maguire, of the Village of Mission Hills, train with The Villages Triathlon club at the Colony Cottage Regional Recreation sports pool. Arianna Bennett, Daily Sun

70+ year old triathletes in The Villages compete

At 77 years young, Karen Panker mustered up a smile as she saw her friends waiting for her after two hours of swimming, cycling and running.

The Village Santo Domingo athlete completed her very first triathlon last weekend in Clermont, even finishing second in her age group.

“It wasn’t easy; it was hard,” said Panker, who completed the course in 2 hours, 1 minute and 19 seconds. “You have to learn how to pace yourself. With more experience, you will learn these things.”

No matter her finish, Panker had the support of two other Villagers in a similar age bracket who have been alongside her all the way.

Donna Maguire and Barbara Mathewson have lost count of how many triathlons they’ve done, but were no less excited about Panker’s performance — and introducing someone new to their passion.

“We are pushing the envelope as long as we can,” said Maguire, 71, of the Village Hacienda.

Mathewson topped the 70-74 age group with a time of 1:23:16, while Maguire placed third (1:48:17). The race, part of the “Cool Sommer Mornings” series, consisted of a 400-yard swim, 10 miles of cycling and a 5K run.

Story from the Daily Sun.

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