Breaking World Records at 75

by Phil Campbell, M.S., M.S., FACHE

While participating in a recent track meet for masters (ages 30 and up), I saw one of the most memorable events of my life.

I saw Bill Daprano run a strong 200 meter sprint in just over 30 seconds.

Bill is 75 years old.

He looks 45.

From a distance, to see Bill run, you might say, "That's a fast high school or college athlete." Bill has set six world records -- two of them in the pentathlon for his performance in five events (long jump, discus, 200 meter sprint, javelin and the 1500 meters).

I was throwing the discus when the starting gun sounded. I glanced and saw Bill take off from the starting blocks and, for inspiration, I watched him run. When he came out of the turn and headed into the straight way, he looked strong, young and fast. I made the comment to about 30 discus throwers, "That guy out in front is 75 years old." Everyone stopped to watch Bill run.

Bill running is art in motion! No painting has ever inspired me like watching Bill Daprano run.

Jeanne Daprano is also art in motion. She holds eight world records. And the records are in the tough mid-distance races. In the female 60-64 age group, Jeanne set a world record in the 1500 meters (just a little short of a mile) at 5:46. That's four laps around the track -- minus 200 meters -- in less than six minutes.

In the 65-69 women's group, Jeanne set another world record in 2002 by running 1500 meters in 5:48. This beat the former world record by nine seconds.

Question: How many high school students can run 1500 meters in less than six minutes? Think about this for a moment. Here's a woman over the age of 65, and she can probably outrun 98 percent of all the high school students in the country.

Bill and Jeanne Daprano motivate me. They motivate me to get the message out that middle-age and older adults are cheating themselves out of the quality (and the quantity) of their life because they don't stay fit.

What Does This Mean to You?

This question can only be answered by you. Are you going to start the fitness program and stick with it? Only you can answer this question.

As I watched Bill finish his race, I thought of my dad, who died at 50 with a major heart attack. Bill and my dad would be about the same age.

My dad missed 25 years of his life because he didn't have the health and fitness information we have today about how to perform high-intensity exercise. He missed seeing three grandchildren born. Oh, how he would have loved my children. But that opportunity is gone.

It doesn't have to be this way for you if you make the decision today to add fitness training to your life -- and to keep it there for a lifetime.

Phil Campbell, the author of Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness (Pristine, 2002) offers a free health and fitness newsletter at

Free Newsletter on this topic at Phil Campbell is the author of "Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness for Time-Crunched Adults"
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