Taking on Teva Mountain Games in Vail in their 60s and 70s
VAIL, Colorado – They might not move as fast as they used to, and many of them have children as old as their competitors, but that’s not stopping the Vail Senior Snow Pigs from entering the Teva Mountain Games Ultimate Mountain Challenge next weekend.
Steve Boyd, Margie Mayne, Don Marks and Jim Himmes have a median age of 67 – an age where many have quit high-endurance sports and opted for things such as golf or doubles tennis.
“I’m too young to play golf,” said Boyd, 73.
Boyd, the kayaker and the oldest Vail Senior Snow Pig, is ready to take on Gore Creek next weekend. He’s been kayaking since he was 33 years old and said the Teva Mountain Games is a time to celebrate the sport and life in general, especially after a three-year battle with stage four melanoma, which he seems to have beat.
“It’s a celebration of being alive and reasonably fit,” Boyd said. “Second, it’s a celebration of all the other things we do up here besides ski.”
The teammates are all former Vail Ski Patrollers – that and a 60-plus age category were about the only requirements for the team.
The competition is something every member of the team is doing for fun. Boyd said it’s more of a competition with themselves – they’re just trying to finish and enjoy it.
That strategy in 2008 landed the team in fourth place out of 13 much younger teams at the Teva Mountain Games, though – not bad for four athletes “just trying to finish.”
Mayne humbly explained that some of the amateur teams probably didn’t realize what they were getting into with the race, which is a true test of athleticism and endurance.
“They made us do three laps on the mountain bike – it was pretty shocking,” Mayne said.
The fourth-place finish was exciting for the group, but Mayne said that winning isn’t the main goal.
“If I race, it’s just for fun,” she said. “This team thing is really cool. It gives us a reason to train and stay in shape and not let the rust form.”
Mayne credits Himmes as the glue holding the team together. She said the hardest part about forming the team was finding a runner in their age group that was also an ex-ski patroller.
“Not that many people our age are running anymore,” Mayne said. “Jim is our linchpin.”
Himmes went to Boulder to run the Bolder Boulder this weekend, perfect timing for some Teva Games training, he said.
He said he’ll start running some more hills next week to build up his endurance a little more before the big race day.
“It’s a tough course,” Himmes said. “My strategy is to survive and finish.”
There’s a major head game involved with competitive sports, Boyd said – a head game that Boyd seems to have no trouble winning.
“I’ve been accused by many of my buddies of setting the standards too high,” Boyd said. “It’s emotional for me.”
Marks, the road biker of the group, has been cycling since he was a little boy, said his wife, Susan Marks. He used to ride an old bike from Lakewood, near Denver, to Frisco, she said.
“He’s probably not as good as some, but he’s certainly willing to give it a go,” Susan Marks said.
That’s the team spirit – giving it a go. Boyd is proud of his friends and of himself for not giving up and for living their lives to the fullest.
“Somewhere along the line, I started to realize maybe I’m in this game of life for the long run,” Boyd said. “It’s the ability to keep moving, stay active and try and stay healthy, and enjoy life.”