Healthy, happy seniors

Harry Reed is in his 80s and his wife Eva Jensen is in her 70s, but both look a decade or more younger.

Eva Jensen and her husband Harry Reed show off some of their most recent medals from the Alberta 55 Games

Harry Reed is in his 80s and his wife Eva Jensen is in her 70s, but both look a decade or more younger.

One might think they’d found the fountain of youth in their yard in Johnstone Park, but it’s more about an attitude that they’ve both held throughout life.

Both grew up in the country as children.

“I was born and raised on a farm. I worked hard and I was always fit,” said Reed, who joined the RCMP in 1953, serving in postings throughout the country.

“They expected you to keep fit. If you didn’t senior personnel would remind you.” But it was never a concern for Reed who has always been involved in sports, jogging, weightlifting and racquetball.

When Jensen was a girl she rode her bike or skipped everywhere she went. They didn’t have a lot of sports equipment at her small school, but they always played ball and there was a track and field event.

“I always did well at track and field, but there is not much competition at a small school,” she said. As a grown woman, she has curled, played slo-pitch and golf.

Reed recently won two gold medals at the Canadian Masters Track and Field Championships in Kamloops B.C. — one for 100 metre dash, with a time of 17.08 seconds, and another for discuss throw. Jensen won gold in shot put and silver in discuss in Kamloops. She also won two bronze medals for a relay race and shot put in Airdrie at the Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games, which used to be known as the Alberta Seniors Games.

Reed has been competing in masters and seniors level track and field events at a provincial or state level since 2005, with Jensen being a newer recruit. The two are part of Zone 4, which includes a wide chunk of Central Alberta.

It all began when he saw some information on the Alberta Seniors Games in the newspaper and thought he’d like to try it. He started to train with Merv Armstrong, going to the Lindsay Thurber High School track. The medals started adding up from there and now they could cover a kitchen table.

The two are considering a trip to Australia and New Zealand in October to visit relatives and friends and they may take part in the World Masters Games in Australia while they are there.

But Reed said taking part in competitions isn’t about winning. He points to the importance of the events promoting fitness and the chance to socialize. He encourages others to get involved in some of the seniors and masters events.

“You don’t need to be a medal winner to join. You can have fun participating without feeling you must win,” Reed said. “It will help you remain fit.”

Jensen sees the competitions more as an opportunity to get motivated to train for an event. She has tried things she never did as a girl, such as discuss and shot put.

The couple will train three times a week, either going to the track or to the pool.

“You don’t have to be a fitness freak to come into the Seniors Games,” Reed said. “It’s that old saying that the two go together, a healthy body and a healthy mind.”

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