Friday, October 18, 2002

Oldest Ironman athletes
keep competing

Associated Press

KAILUA-KONA >> He has survived a broken shoulder, a broken arm, a broken ankle and prostate cancer -- but has no plans to quit racing.

She has had a broken hip, a broken elbow, two broken wrists, two broken shoulders, a broken jaw, broken ribs, two broken fingers and two broken toes and also has no plans to quit -- unless the good Lord tells her it's time to give it up.

Norton Davey, at 84, and Madonna Buder, at 72, are the oldest man and woman competing in the grueling Ironman Triathlon World Championship, two of the nearly 1,600 triathletes registered for tomorrow's annual race.

Both are veterans of the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile marathon run. Davey has started the race 17 times since 1982 and has finished 10. Buder has finished 14 of her 16 attempts. Both also are goal-oriented and are strong believers in their own abilities and capabilities.

"There is probably something in my psychological makeup that causes me to be goal-oriented," Davey said in explaining why he continues the Ironman challenge.

"My goal now is to be the first person over 80 to finish," said the Oceanside, Calif., resident, who started running at age 55 on the advice of a company doctor.

Davey started setting goals at an early age.

"I met my wife when she was 9 and I was 10 in the fifth grade. I asked her to marry me, but it took another 14 years to convince her," he said. The couple recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Several other goals he met include making the varsity crew at Syracuse University after two years of trying, becoming an Army Air Corps pilot despite a slight vision problem, and climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on his third attempt.

He also acknowledges some misses: failing at age 11 or 12 when he "tried to lick the summer camp bully," and failure to become CEO at Continental Airlines, where he retired as a vice president of finance.

For Buder -- whom Davey calls "a sweet kid" -- the goal is to set her third age-group record.

She holds the record for the women's 60-64 and 65-69 age groups but has been thwarted the past two years in attempts for the 70-74 mark.

In the October 2000 race, gusty winds picked up Buder and her bicycle and left her with a broken shoulder (her most recent broken bone), a wrenched hip, bruises and abrasions that required 20 stitches in her face.

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