Enduring Beyond Barriers: The Harriet Anderson Story

May 11, 2010

Harriet Anderson - 2009 Ironman World Championby Kathleen Burke Jensen | When Harriet Anderson crossed the finish line at Kona — the Ford Ironman World Championship — in October 2009, there were a few reasons she stood out. At 74 years of age, she was the oldest female competitor to complete the race. At 11:53 p.m. she finished, just seven minutes before the cutoff. And the reason she’d taken longer than usual? The arm taped to her side was a clue. She’d broken her clavicle at mile 80 of the bike ride when another cyclist bumped into her. Did that deter Harriet? No. She picked herself up, finished the next 32 miles on the bike, and promptly walked the entire 26.2 miles of the marathon.

Meet Harriet, the Women’s 70-74 Ironman World Champion.


What makes a person push and endure beyond barriers? There’s not one noticeable moment in her history that would make someone think that Harriet was destined to be an Ironman champion in her 70’s, and that’s the beauty of her story. Harriet grew up in Los Gatos and spent the summers with her sister on the beach in Santa Cruz. In college she spent a summer in Yosemite hiking long distances without stopping. “The guys I was hiking with were impressed that I just kept going,” says Harriet. “I guess I was just born with the endurance gene.” She married Gary 50 years ago—they celebrated their golden anniversary this month—and raised two kids.

As a school nurse Harriet understood the value of good health. When their kids left home, a friend encouraged Harriet and Gary to join an exercise class at Canada College. “We met three times a week and focused on strength training and running,” explains Harriet. Then someone suggested a 10k race. Which she did. And then a half marathon. She did that too. In 1986 she decided to tackle the Honolulu Marathon.


This path of racing one distance and then doing longer races is familiar to most athletes who get hooked on racing. Triathlon caught Harriet’s eye, but she wasn’t a strong swimmer. So she joined a master’s swim club at the community center and then tried her hand at a couple of sprint distance (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run) triathlons. That went well and she had fun, so when some friends planned to do the Wildflower Long Course distance race (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) in May 1989, she signed up too.

Wildflower is well-known as a fun race with a super challenging half Ironman course, not generally forgiving for first timers. And yet 53-year-old Harriet won her age group. And with the win came a slot to race in Kona that October. There are certain races considered qualifiers for the world championships where first-place finishers in each age group are given automatic entry, and Wildflower is one of those races.

Harriet Anderson - 2009 Ironman World ChampionHarriet had three weeks to decide. Three weeks to make up her mind about whether or not to spend the next four months training for the Ironman World Championships—a distance twice as long as anything she had ever attempted. “My sister Kathleen said I should try it, so I did,” says Harriet softly, in her trademark way of downplaying the enormity of the commitment. The result? “I wasn’t fast, but I had good endurance and I finished.”


That was 21 years ago and Harriet has raced Kona 18 times since. A few times she missed the race while dealing with the inevitable injuries that eventually sideline every endurance athlete. “I’ve learned to not push the envelope in training because it’s simply not worth the downtime to recover from injury,” she shares. “If my legs are feeling too tight from a run, I make sure to alternate the next day with a swim or a rest day.”

Over the years Harriet has refined her training and racing schedule. Family comes first and training takes a decent chunk of time so she opts to do most of her racing, with the exception of Kona, locally. “I only do local races unless it’s Nationals or Worlds and even then I limit travel to the Western part of the states,” she explains.

And that leaves time for non-triathlete activities she enjoys. Like teaching second graders to knit, something she’s been doing for years. “The teacher feels it teaches the kids perseverance and I like that,” Harriet says with a grin.


Being a naturally early-riser has its benefits and Harriet wakes up at 4:00 a.m. most mornings, which means that Monday, Wednesday and Friday you can find her on the spin bike at 5:15 for a nice 35 minute warm-up before the class starts. “I like to sit on the bike and spin and read,” Harriet says, adding that she’s working her way through the collected works of Nevada Barr and Isabelle Allende. She does Pilates a couple of those days too, noting that core strength really helps on long bike rides.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to masters swimming and yoga. She credits yoga for keeping her naturally tight hip flexors more flexible; a key way to avoid running injuries down the road. She loves the groups she trains with at the Peninsula Community Center and says that the people are what keep her going. Well, that and the daily massage that someone who trains as much as Harriet has to work into the training schedule.

In addition to these organized training sessions Harriet runs three times a week, preferably on trails which are easier on the joints. Her recent running schedule included a 12 mile run, a 14 mile run and then a 13 mile run—all at Sawyer Camp Trail, which meanders alongside the Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County. The abundance of available port-a-potties make this route particularly useful for a long run.


Harriet Anderson - 2009 Ironman World ChampionHarriet eats a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein and dark chocolate. “The dark chocolate bars at Trader Joe’s are the best,” she says with enthusiasm. Her fuel choices for training and racing include Clif Bars (her favorite is apricot), Clif Shots and Accelerade energy powder. She notes that over the years she’s definitely seen changes in her body. “After the age of 65 you lose muscle every year, and I can feel that hilly runs are more difficult for me now. But then I feel stronger on the bike than before.” These changes illustrate the ongoing challenge of triathlon training; finding the balance of proper nutrition and enough—but not too much—training. And then adjusting it all year to year.


After not being allowed to swim while her clavicle healed from the 2009 Ironman World Championships, Harriet is happy to report that she’s back in full training. She’s doing the Wildflower Long Course again in May and participates in century bike races on the weekends when they fit her schedule. This endurance athlete is well on the way to her 19th Kona Ironman race this October. Look for Harriet to finish strong and happy.

KATHLEEN BURKE JENSEN loves to write, ride her beautiful horse, and train for her favorite sport—triathlon. She’s constantly looking for ways to do all three things; if not simultaneously, then at least back to back throughout the day. For more on her adventures, visit her blog Forging Ahead »


  • Reply Katheryn May 11, 2010 at 6:32 am

    Kathleen, What an inspiration you are to me, I will quite using my age of 56 as a cop out. Thank you fro sharing your story & be safe!

  • Reply nancy hazelwood May 11, 2010 at 7:20 am

    I’m a 64-year-old rower. I started rowing ten years ago and started competing nine years ago. I was an athlete growing up but there were no competitive sports for females at that time. I have always loved sports and am competitive, mostly with myself. I have continued rowing and have won many races. I started hard training the first of February, six days a week with a group of scullers. We are competing in many races this year, including the International Masters Rowing Competition in St. Catharine’s Canada. Most of our workouts are at 5:30 a.m. I am a morning person and still work full time. Juggling the scheule is sometimes difficult.

    Physical activity is the best medicine for my physical and mental health. It is a great way to start the day.

    Best of luck to all those atheletes who continue to compete and inspire all of those around you…

    St. Louis, MIssouri

  • Reply anne marie May 11, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Wow! this is amazing! So glad you shared this story. i’m passing it along to my mom, mil, and friend’s moms….;-)

  • Reply Catherine Dickson May 11, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Wow, great featured story Kathleen! Harriet reminds us all of what we can be if we perservere. Staying active at any age is key: for mind, body and soul.

    Harriet is so amazing and inspirational, at that! I would love to meet her!!!

    P.S. Nancy, you are inspirational as well. Wishing you the very best in your upcoming IMRC in Canada! I’m encouraging you to enter an application for Athleta’s July 2011 Sponsorship Program. 🙂

    P.S.S. Yes, I agree: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate is absolutely the best I’ve had! 🙂

  • Reply jennifer murphy May 12, 2010 at 5:18 am

    You are AMAZING!!! Thank you for inspiring me at 41 with 5 little girls to be a more active role model!! I’m a runner but I’ll try a TRI this fall!!! THANKS again!!

    Emerald Isle, NC

  • Reply John May 12, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Wow. i am in awe.

  • Reply Lori May 12, 2010 at 8:44 am

    WOW!!! I am truly inspired! I have been thinging seriously of taking up running…I think that I will give it a try! 🙂

  • Reply Camille May 12, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Amazing! I am impressed and will certainly spread the word. Thanks, Kathleen, for calling attention to this inspirational woman.

  • Reply Beth May 12, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    WOW! Harriet is a great role model. I am a 52 year old mother of four who has enjoyed the physical and mental benefits of daily exercise. I began running 28 year ago after my first child was born. Since then I have spent the years running, biking, and for the last 18 months have added swimming to my weekly routine. I recently ran in the local broad street run (10 mile), and last year I completed my first sprint triathlon, which I am training to repeat this June. Recently, I have been feeling new aches and pains, which make me wonder how much longer will I be able to continue doing these things I love to do. It is a way of life, and hearing Harriet’s story puts my mind at ease. I will take Harriet’s advice on training, especially to adjust my training year to year. I too, would love to meet Harriet.

  • Reply Amanda Kennealy May 13, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Harriet, you go girl!! Your accomplishments in life are pushing the limits and i bet they feel great and make you feel alive. You prove that mind over matter really matters. thankyou for sharing your story. xo

  • Reply Kele May 13, 2010 at 3:14 am

    Harriet and Athleta, thank you for sharing such an inspirational and touching story. I can feel your passion for life, athletics, and the joy of competition. Where others may be winding down in life, you seem to be picking up and inspiring all of us, young and old, male and female. Thank you for sharing your story and best of luck in your future competitions.

  • Reply Barbara May 13, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Kudos to her!!! Having broken my clavical in a horse accident 4 years ago I can’t imagine the pain she endured finishing. I’am a 68 year old Zumba instructor who agrees…age is only a number.

  • Reply Jilly Anson Fischer May 13, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Congratulations to Harriet!! What an inspiration. I am a 44 year old mother of three and recently lost my mom to cancer at age 71. She too fought through pain, and continued on. I am happy to hear your clavicle healed and will be watching for you in October!! Again, congratulations and Athleta, thanks for the inspiring share!! I am in awe . . . many blessings.

  • Reply molly jarvis May 13, 2010 at 3:37 am

    As a school nurse in New york, i am inspired by your dedication to exercise. I love yoga, running and bicycling too!! Good Luck!!!

  • Reply Christi May 13, 2010 at 3:47 am

    You are an Inspiration Harriet! At 46 & still training/racing triathlon, I know your story will motivate me to keep on training and balancing it all because it’s worth it. You are a beautiful lady and an Inspiration to all women!

  • Reply Kiersten May 13, 2010 at 4:19 am

    I have done Ironman Canada twice and Ironman Hawaii twice, and I can honestly say that I almost have more respect for the older competitors who complete this race than I do the winners, and that’s not meant to take away anything from the elite athletes. These races are so grueling, so hard on your body, and you reach so deep into places you never even knew existed, I really am in awe of the 60 and 70-somethings that are willing to push themselves so hard and undertake this journey. Fantastic Harriet!

  • Reply Denise May 13, 2010 at 4:22 am

    What a great story!! Harriet, you have inspired me to keep going. I am 55 and have lost 88 pounds in the last 2 years- I started running 5k’s and just completed a half marathon last month. Thanks for the advice aout balancing training and adjusting your schedule as one ages. I am going to forward this article to my mother who is a senior olympic swimmer.
    Congrats on your endurance and perserverance

  • Reply Harriet Langlois May 13, 2010 at 4:42 am

    My husband just forwarded this to me, with the comment “Tough women, those Harriets”.

    I am so inspired by this story – and I think we will see more and more strong women competing in endurance events into their 60’s, 70’s, and beyond. It is all about pushing aside conventional wisdom about physical aging, accompanied by awesome mental fortitude. (And finding that right balance between training and overtraining, as our bodies change).

    I will be 55 this year, and have completed 11 marathons (including 3 Boston), since 2005 when I got serious about distance racing. I have no plans to stop.

    Congratulations from one Harriet to another!

  • Reply melanie May 13, 2010 at 4:47 am

    at 42, i am feeling a little tired! well…no more. thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story!!

  • Reply Sara May 13, 2010 at 4:49 am

    Rock on girl. WOW! I will no longer complain when my workouts are hurting!

  • Reply SamE May 13, 2010 at 5:01 am

    This story is amazing and filled with great hope for all!

  • Reply Robin May 13, 2010 at 5:13 am

    What an inspiration for us all! Harriet, you are my new role model…keep it up.

  • Reply Ellen Holthaus May 13, 2010 at 5:14 am

    Wow! I LOVE this story – I just signed up for a half-marathon and will keep this story close to my heart. I will be 55 next week so this is just what I needed to remind myself that the number is just that – a number. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Andrea May 13, 2010 at 5:16 am

    AWESOME, inspiring. I’m 53 and started working out passionately just 2 years ago. Changed my physique, changed my mind-set, changed what goes into my mouth and that of my family. Harriet’s story is now my fuel! You go girl!

  • Reply Kristi May 13, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Definitely an inspiration!

  • Reply Gail May 13, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Harriet, your story made my day! I am 49 and just starting to get back in shape.

  • Reply michelle May 13, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Amazing! Thank you for writing this very inspiring story.

  • Reply Barbara C. May 13, 2010 at 5:40 am

    I am a 47 yr old Mom working full time in a highly stressful job – I started exercising regulary 6 years ago and recently dropped 20 lbs by adding daily runs to my routine. I am never going to use my age as an excuse again after reading this story. It was inspiring – I hope that Harriet remains Healthy and Active for the rest of her years – what a lovely story. It really makes me want to continue with what I am doing so that in my retirement I can be Healthy and Active and ALIVE!

  • Reply Susan Kennedy May 13, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Harriet, you are an inspiration. You don’t give up and that is an amazing quality. More than that, you have found a way to achieve balance with your other interests – something I am trying to figure out. Thank you for showing us how it is done!!

  • Reply Keone May 13, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Thank you so much for this inspiration!I’ve been an athlete all my life and at 47 it is so nice to see that women like Harriet are setting new standards for fitness. You can be a competitor at any age!Great attitude.

  • Reply Shannon Cavendish May 13, 2010 at 5:49 am

    WOW! What an Amazing woman!

  • Reply Nicole Melton May 13, 2010 at 5:52 am

    This is AMAZING. I’m training for my first triathlon in July. At 26 years of age, I have NO EXCUSES now after reading about Harriet. I look forward to getting stronger and crossing that finish line!

  • Reply Mary May 13, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Awesome and inspirational, Harriet!
    I, too, am a school nurse as well as a mom and could not manage without my morning workouts. Thank you for inspiring me to kick it up a notch!!

  • Reply melissa May 13, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Harriet, it’s hard enough for me at 45 to train. I definately feel the changes in my body and struggle with that all the time. You give me lots of hope so thank you for being such a great athlete and sharing your story. You appear to be a very smart athlete as well. Take care and happy training!!

  • Reply Heather May 13, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Harriet, I just posted your story on my wall for inspiration! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  • Reply Becky Smith May 13, 2010 at 6:07 am

    I love this story. It reminds me of a woman I know who at 62 finished all five mountain passes on the Death Ride cycling event, went on to compete in the Senior Olympics, and at age 70, is setting records. It would be nice to see other stories of seniors who are excelling in sports, and learn more about their mindset strategies to endure and persist. I turn 50 in just a week; my endurance is there, but my persistence is lacking. Stories like these inspire me to endure AND persist. Let’s see more wonderful stories like this.

  • Reply Janet May 13, 2010 at 6:11 am

    Turning 40 was a big moment in my life. I did my first sprint triathlon on my 40th birthday and at almost 42, am now training for my first half Ironman. I know the commitment that is required to train for these events and it is admirable that you continue to press on! I hope that I inspire my young children as you have inspired so many women. I loved reading your story. Thank-you.

  • Reply Robin May 13, 2010 at 6:11 am

    Wow, What an inspiration. I am only 43 years old and seem to make excuses for myself why I cannot or don’t have enough time to train. Harriet, you make it seem so easy and there is no excuses anymore. You are a true inspiration and have made me realize you can do anything when you put your mind to it. Thanks for the inspiration to make it happen.

  • Reply Charlene S May 13, 2010 at 6:12 am

    As a 50 yr old physical therapist assistant, personal trainer, spin instructor and amature athlete…all I can say is that this is the type of role model we all need. Someone who is not afraid to put it all out there but also to do it smart by listening to their body and knowing when to back it down. All too often I see the results of athletes that don’t listen to what their bodies say, and even what I say, only to watch them go through months of rehab for something that potentially could have been avoided. Be bold, be brave and be smart….be like Harriet! All the best to her!

  • Reply Nancy May 13, 2010 at 6:14 am

    You are a true inspiration! Good Bless You!

  • Reply Nicole May 13, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Thank you for sharing an amazing woman with us Athleta! 😉

  • Reply Sarah May 13, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Wow, this woman is amazing! What an inspiration. This story made my morning and my day!

  • Reply Patricia May 13, 2010 at 6:33 am

    I am in awe of this woman . I will think of her every time I am tempted to complain about aches and pains,especially during my workouts. I am 62 and think I am in decent shape but Hariet has inspired me to do more. I have forwarded this newsletter to many!
    PS We were at Kona in 09 and watched the athletes train for the triathalon, and I have even more respect for there endurance having seen them in training and the course they have to do.

  • Reply Sandy May 13, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Your story is an inspiration to us all! At 46, my kids have recently moved out of the house and I am now addicted to endurance sports – in particular; cycling. Anything is possible at any age. You are living proof of this and we should never stop trying new things and pushing our limits.

    You will be in my thoughts all day.


  • Reply Lani C. May 13, 2010 at 6:38 am

    WOW! You are an inspiration!

  • Reply Kristina May 13, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Way to go Harriet! I was at Wildflower this year and saw you there! You rock. I did my first tri this year at Wildflower – you inspired me during that race and this story inspires me even more! I will be thinking of you at my next race this summer. Keep on truckin’ Harriet you are truly marvelous!

  • Reply Maureen May 13, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Awesome! No excuses just perseverance. What an inspiration to all women. Finding the right balance between family, training and competition is a feat in itself. Congratulations on your all your achievements! Thank you for the motivating us older athletes.
    Cleveland, OH.

  • Reply Jenny May 13, 2010 at 6:53 am

    what an inspiration I am a manager of a retirement community – I can’t wait to share your story with tenants & staff here! Perseverance – You got it!

  • Reply Wendy P May 13, 2010 at 6:54 am

    What a great story! I am a low mileage road runner and I have a dream to one day do a marathon. Harriet Anderson inspires me to get out there and do races! I am inspired to run more often! Thank you!

  • Reply Kerri M May 13, 2010 at 6:58 am

    A brand just enriched my life! Thanks for this story, Kathleen & Athleta.

  • Reply Rosie talmadge May 13, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Hi Harriet. We met you at Merced Lake in Yosemite 5 years ago and I’m not surprised, but absolutely delighted to see your story being told. You are absolutely amazing and I want to share that you are even more delightful than you are amazing!!

  • Reply sharan May 13, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Girl-you are my hero! I too at a later stage in life (48) have decided that if I don’t move now, I won’t be moving in 15 years. I was an athelete in my younger years, then started a business and let that have all my energy. Life is too short to not take care of my God given body, health and ability. YOU GO GIRL!!!!

  • Reply Joan B May 13, 2010 at 7:06 am

    WOW!!! Kathleen, you have inspired many, my 46 year old, once fit self included. Now time for me to re-engage in that long put off fitness plan!!

  • Reply Audrey May 13, 2010 at 7:09 am

    It is such a pleasure to read about this wonderful woman! She takes every possibility in life and makes it great! I am looking forward to sharing this story with my children, grandchildren and friends! Wishing all of you a beautiful day! Thanks Harriet!

  • Reply Theresa May 13, 2010 at 7:11 am

    I am in complete and total awe of this woman!!! You are amazing and an inspiration to all!!!

  • Reply meghan May 13, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Thank you Harriet~ Seeing you continue your athletic journey is inspiring. I appreciate you mentioning the gentle awareness, listening to, and honoring your body. See you on the road!

  • Reply Melinda Neely May 13, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Not only is the story incredibly inspiring, but I find it interesting how she has evolved her training with age. It’s hard to put in words how a person “endures beyond barriers,” whether on a triathlon course or in life. Harriet has shown us how to keep fighting, broken bones and all. Wow!

  • Reply Regina May 13, 2010 at 7:37 am

    As I am about to participate in my first Half Ironman at age 43, I can now truly look down the road at a rich future in triathlon. It is never too late. Thank you Harriet for being such a postive role model for and inspiration for women of all ages! Thank you Kathleen for sharing Harriet’s story with us.

  • Reply Tami May 13, 2010 at 7:43 am

    This is such a wonderful inspiration! I have been competing in triathlons for 4 years and have thought of doing an Ironman. Now I definitely will!. Harriet is an amazing woman!!!!! Thank you Harriet and Athleta!

  • Reply Lisa May 13, 2010 at 7:48 am

    You are amazing! And truly inspiring. Good luck at Kona this year!

  • Reply Gabriela May 13, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Harriet, you are awesome! What an inspiration! Thank you for showing us all-men &women-what a life long athlete is. It’s just awesome to see how running, swimming, biking, other physical activities become the string that weaves us through the years. Thank you for being you.

  • Reply Barb May 13, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Miss Harriet- your are an inspiration and my Ironman Hero. On this eve of my 40th Birthday I was filled with mixed emotions until I read your story. As I was reading I found that we have a lot in common. I, too, grew up in Santa Cruz and spent many days on the beach- I now live in Colorado. I am a nurse and am currently on book 7 of the Nevada Barr series. You are my mirror to the future of healthy living, competing and living life to the fullest potential. Thank You for such a lovely story. Tailwinds!

  • Reply Billie May 13, 2010 at 8:01 am

    During my 40’s I trained and rode 25 double centuries on my bike, at the age of 50 I rode my ride across America on the northern route, and now at age 62 even though I still ride, I’ve lost some drive and want it back. Reading stories like this makes me determine not to be a “wanna be”, but a doer. Thanks for the inspirations, reading all these testimonies I’m determined to get started tackling my next dream. We all need each other to keep us going and feeling alive. Good job to everyone who has endured any type of endurance challenges, and especially to Harriett who has shared her story.

  • Reply Kim May 13, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Wow! Awesome, inspiring story! I’m a runner, who recently began taking up cyling – as an activity to participate in w/ my fiance – but I’m thinking of doing a biathalon atleast by next summer.

    Thanks for such a great interview, Kathleen!

  • Reply jackii pellett May 13, 2010 at 8:11 am

    thanks for the inspiring story – I’m just a babe compared to harriet (i’ll be 60 in july) – my current passion is rock climbing which i took up at 52 – i think i still have a lot of years of improvemnet ahead – in fact, one of my climbing buddies will be 72 this year – what better way to age is there than living life to the fullest!

  • Reply LAURA May 13, 2010 at 8:15 am


  • Reply Kristen May 13, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I really needed some inspiration this morning. As I get ready for my first 1/2 Ironman and feel that my body is not cooperating, I realize that others have conquered bigger challenges. What a boost and great tips to keep athletes on course;) I teach middle school health and will share this story with all of my kids!

  • Reply Mary Louise May 13, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Thanks to all for sharing their stories….you all and Harriet inspire me. I love that there’s no talk of times ….just going the distance is the best reward! I too started back training later in life…my first marathon at 40, distance swimming at 45, lots of century rides and added Half Iron to the long list at 50…I love having a goal and I think that’s what keeps us all going….so guess its time to sign up for my 2nd Half Iron while I am still 51! Besides, my half Iron training last summer kept me from totally driving my college applying son crazy! Although we had to incorporate my running time into college visits….

  • Reply Lisa May 13, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. I will definitely share Harriet’s story with my tribe. As a triathlete, I respect Harriet’s determination and strength. Thank you for sharing such a truly inspirational story. Harriet, you rock!

  • Reply Maura May 13, 2010 at 8:31 am

    What lucky 2nd graders!! They will learn to knit, but will absorb so much more from such a positive force!

  • Reply Kathy May 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Finally! A story about an athlete who is not about self promoting, but doing it for the sport. I’ve heard about Harriet for years and she’s never received the recognition she truly deserves (and I’m sure doesn’t really want.) It’s frustrating when women like Katie Holmes who basically walks a Marathon in 5 hours gets more publicity than the Paulas and the Harriets who really deserve it. Thank you Athleta for finally featuring a truly inspiring athlete. She’s amazing.

  • Reply Emma May 13, 2010 at 8:38 am

    After reading this article, I’m certain I will not be complaining about working out any time soon. What a rockstar!!

  • Reply Juniper May 13, 2010 at 8:43 am

    As a newbie to triathlons (completed 1 sprint in 2009 and 3 planned this summer/fall sprint, Olympic, 1/2 IM) I am so inspired! I remember at 30 when I started training for a 150 mile bike ride I was like, “maybe by 40 I’ll do an Iron Man” while chatting with a gal in the locker room. I’ve got a year and 2 months to do it, if Harriet can do it so can I! (well I guess I should wait and see if I can complet the 1/2IM in October!). I love stories like this and of course, Athleta’s fabulous cycling jerseys (a great outfit always makes me ride/run faster- or so I think!)

  • Reply Barb May 13, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Harriet- Love your spirit! Thanks for sharing your energy… we all benefit!

  • Reply Marcia May 13, 2010 at 8:47 am

    As a woman who passed into her 50th year late last year, I find Harriet so inspiring, it brought a tear to my eyes. Why such an emotional response? Because for me, I feel I know myself better, am more myself and have worked over the past five years to get in the best physical condition of my life. I do not want to see this time of life as the “downside” of anything! Harriet is one of those shining North stars by which I am setting my personal compass. Thank you for sharing and to the author, wonderful writing!

  • Reply Katrina May 13, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Thanks for this great inspiration. I’ve been discouraged by my swimming, while training for my first tri. But now I will think of Harriet and push through.

  • Reply Joyce May 13, 2010 at 9:14 am

    What an inspiration!! I’m turning 60 and consider myself in good shape but Harriet shows that one can even do more as I head to my YMCA each morning I’ll be thinking of Harriet.

  • Reply Monica May 13, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. On those days I find it hard to get out of bed to do my workout I’ll remember your story. You have inspired me to keep my eye on my dreams and not give up.
    Thank you.

  • Reply Katie May 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

    This is such an inspirational story! Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Reply Cay May 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Wonderful!! An inspiration to everyone, keep being the perfect you, what a guiding light.

  • Reply Teresa May 13, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Wow!! What an inspiration! I am training for my 1st triathlon right now. I am 41 and it is tough but after reading Harriet’s story I will definelty be thinking of her when I’m racing in June and feel like I can’t push over that last hill. Thanks for sharing her story.

  • Reply Quix May 13, 2010 at 10:21 am

    What an inspirational story! I’m so happy to see that at 31 – my best racing years can be in front of me if I so choose. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply AnnMarie Schneider May 13, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Just the kick in the butt I needed at 51 years! Thank you so much for telling Harriet’s story.

  • Reply Christa Dierksen May 13, 2010 at 11:07 am

    T he previous comments have said it all,we need more stories like this.I see so many women young and old who are overwieght and not active at all.Also I would like to see the triathlon and running magazines put real -older-athletes on their covers instead of the models they use now and do more stories on the older athletes.I was going to blow off my bike ride but now I’m heading out the door

  • Reply Nathalie bertrand May 13, 2010 at 11:24 am

    What an inspiration! You are who I whant to be Hariet. I will take the example and continue to train for the love of it, and for the benefice it gives.

    Go girl! All women arond the worls are behind every step you take!

    Nathalie Bertrand from Montréal, Québec, Canada

  • Reply Kathleen@ForgingAhead May 13, 2010 at 11:33 am

    These wonderful comments by the Athleta Chi community are as inspiring as Harriet herself! Look at how many amazing women there are in the world!

  • Reply Tokewa S. May 13, 2010 at 11:57 am

    This is a great story. What an inspiration, I wish my mom knew of Harriet Anderson before she developed osteoarthritis in her back. I believe if she had read about her, she would have exercise a little bit more. Thanks for telling & sharing her story.

  • Reply Nancy McCaffrey May 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Incredible! So glad I read this as I was feeling a little “tired” in training for a Century event this weekend. My family won’t hear anymore from this complaint department!

  • Reply Kathy Anich May 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I started running at age 50, and now it is a year later, and I have completed my first two races ever! I ran Crazylegs 8K and the following week I ran a 5K! Harriet gives me the motivation to keep on truckin for the next 50 years!

  • Reply Katherine Nelsen-Allan May 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Harriet, You are a true inspiration, I admire your deteremination, drive, and focused mental skills. I want to be just like you when I grow up. I use to live in Northern California, and for
    awhile lived in San Mateo. If you are ever in Arizona for a visit I would love to go for a run with
    you. You are the Girl, Katherine Nelsen-Allan

  • Reply Leslie May 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    What an inspiring story. I am competing in my first sprint Tri on June 26 followed by a SheROX Tri on August 1st. I have always been a runner and swimmer but never a biker until 3 years ago when I tore my calf muscle running a 10-miler. Someone told me to try spinning classes and I fell in love. My husband and I decided we needed a goal this year and decided on a sprint Tri. Reading Harriet’s story makes me less nervous about the whole Tri experience. If she can do it, so can I!

  • Reply Zandra May 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    FANTASTIC STORY!! Harriet, you have invigorated me! I strive to have your endurance and determination and will think of you and your drive when I falter! I will get outside and MOVE! =)

  • Reply Nancy, better known as Nana2Tri May 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Harriett……I wanna be like you when I grow up! At age 51, I only have 23 more years to go. PS….I’m going for my first Half Ironman in Augusta, Sept. 26. I’ve printed this article to put up inside my locker, gym bag, car and bothroom mirror to remind me….NO EXCUSES!

  • Reply Elizabeth May 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Congratulations, Harriet, on quite an accomplishment and the added bonus of inpsiring so many people on so many levels. Thanks, ATHLETA – Love you too.

  • Reply Audra Ottaway May 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Every once in a while, a person comes along with a quiet determination that inspires legions. You’ve set an example that inpowers others in accepting the belief that they too can conquer that which before seemed impossible. Rock on GIRL!

  • Reply Julie Greenberg May 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Harriet, you are truly an inspiration and your achievements are a gift to women, young and seasoned! Thank you for proving, that no matter what your age, fitness and wellness is yours for the taking. I have always been active and at soon-to-be 46 years old, I am running the sf half-marathon in July (my first!) I am asking myself, “what next?” Your strength, determination and courage is contagious. Thank you!


    Julie Greenberg

  • Reply Julie Donovan May 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Thank you Athleta and thank you Harriet for sharing your amazing story. I watched your story during the broadcasting of the Ironman and it brought tears to my eyes then as it did now. You are an inspiration to many. May you have many more years of endurance races ahead of you! You truly are a gifted and blessed athlete!

  • Reply Linda Kelley May 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I have the pleasure of getting to work with Harriet occasionally and have gotten to know her over the years. She is the sweetest woman and one of my idols. What a great testament as to what lifelong fitness and healthcare results in. Harriet is twice as beautiful in person than any photo can capture. I am so pleased you featured such an inspirational, amazing, sweet woman. Thank you!

  • Reply Summer May 13, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    What an awe inspiring story! Time for me to get to the gym! Can’t slack off when you read about drive like this woman! AMAZING!

  • Reply Catherine Dickson May 13, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Yes, once again to reiterate with endless smiles galore: Superb article choice and writing featuring Harriet at 74!!! Ever amazing and her determination is so passionate!!!

    Team Athleta, you are ‘right on’ in so many, many ways. I keep coming back for more and more inspiration plus and always find it here, thank-you!!!


  • Reply Lisa Gregory May 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    What an amazing lady!!! I am in my 2nd year of Triathlons (totally hooked) at 43 yrs old. There’s hope for me yet. This was a great read Thanks love it!
    The best of luck of Harriet

  • Reply Jen W. May 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Harriet, I love your story! Thanks for being yourself and sharing this inspiration.

  • Reply Mary May 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    You are such an amazing woman. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Reply Herbert May 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Your story is SO cool! You really inspired me. Maybe I’m the Iron Champ of the Future!?!? Do you think you’ll do anymore triathlons? Good luck on your next Kona!!!!! You are an awesome 74-year-old!!!

  • Reply Karen Geninatti May 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Truly amazing and inspirational!!!! WOW, the many many women (and men) you have inspired!

  • Reply michelle May 13, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Harriet, there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said above. Although I’m not a triathlete or endurance athlete, you inspire me to endure in the sports I enjoy, and to cherish all that physical activity does to help my aging body, mind, and spirit feel ageless.

    And Kathleen, thank you for the beautifully written piece. You’re also an inspiration, and the perfect person to tell Harriet’s story.

    Sincerely, your “editor in chi”

  • Reply Elsy Ramirez May 13, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    At 74 Harriet Anderson is a symbol of what success really represents. Harriet tell the world that is not the years we live but how we live those years. She has proven that the love for sports, for life, for another human being is ageless. Congratulations to you Harriet and may more successes come your way.


    Elsy Ramirez Stiebel ANP (Adult Nurse Practitioner)
    Long Beach, New York

  • Reply Catherine Dickson May 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    P.S. Getting active and/or staying fit really is about being intentional: simply knowing the value of what feeling good and being healthy does from head-to-toe adds to the lasting stickiness of it. I believe we all possess a bit of “Harriet” in each of us…so, I say, embrace it, move, move, move and have fun!!! Many thanks to all at Athleta–Love you!!! 🙂

  • Reply kellywehrly May 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    My eyes well up and tears fall as I read Harriets testimony of her life. My mother is her age and a great inspiration to me. She walks the tread mill and lifts weights faithfully 5x week. I sit here now in extreme pain recovering from a pinched nerve in my trap. Pain like no other. Had children and no comparison. Would love to cut my arm off right about now. Been a fitness teacher for 25yrs. Never any injuries. Thank God! A revelation occured to me this past week as I have been down. I need to pursue the things I’m passionate about. Harriet’s story has inspired me to go back to biking and swimming again. Did many organized events prior to my 2 girls. Now it’s time for me to inspire them. Thank you Harriet!

  • Reply Kristin May 14, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Dear Ms. Anderson,
    You are truly an inspiration to all women. I am so motivated and in awe of your story.
    Now I know that at age 42 I still have plenty of time to pursue my desire to complete triathlons. My fear/weakness of the swimming portion was holding me back. Looks like you found a way to conquer that and so can I!
    Thank you so much for sharing the legend that you truly are.

  • Reply Lois W. May 14, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Thank you for sharing this amazing part of your life with us. You are truly an inspiration!!

    I wish you many more years of success and peace!!

  • Reply Korinne May 14, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Thank you for inspiring us all to pursue our dreams. Training for that horse show starts today! Bless you all.

  • Reply christina mccarthy May 14, 2010 at 8:01 am

    I’ll be brief. You TotALLY ROCK!

  • Reply Shelly May 14, 2010 at 8:11 am

    WOW, Thank you Harriet!!! My dream is to do the St. George,Ut Ironman in my home town, but with six kids, I had given up on the dream and deceided not to do it. Thanks to your amazing story, I’m back on the mindset to go for it. If you can do it, I can do it. Thank you for giving me back the desire to know I CAN do it!!!

  • Reply Lisa May 14, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Hurray …for Harriet!

    For less work and more working out!

    I’m looking forward to retirement now …
    30 years with nothing to do
    but looking and feeling great!

  • Reply Leigh May 14, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I want to be like Harriet!!! 🙂

  • Reply RENEE May 14, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Harriet, You are an inspiration- to put it mildly.

  • Reply Joleen May 14, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Harriet you are everything I want to be, both currently and when I am your age! And you look dang good!

  • Reply Phyllis Mann May 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    WOW, Harriet, WOW !! My triathlete daughter forwarded your story to me. Just what I needed to keep on keeping on. I did my first tri at age 74, with my daughter’s support and coaching, and have now done the Danskin (sprint) 5 times. I hope to do one more, maybe next year at 83. When young tri athletes ask how I do it I say, “just don’t quit what you are doing now”. I guess I need to take my own advice. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Reply Pat O'Brien May 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    You go girl!!!

  • Reply Lynn Sheppard May 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Harriet, you are awe-inspiring. My mom just turned 90 and has many physical issues. I love her so much and want to do something to inspire her to never give up on enjoying life. I have a few minor aches and pains (I’m only 46) and I’m struggling to stick with “real” exercise/training. You have given me new fuel. I will share your story with her.

    Much love and huge respect to you Harriet! May gold bless.

  • Reply Heather May 14, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Thank you Harriet for not “acting your age”, what ever that means these days!

    Thank you Kathleen for sharing this story.

  • Reply nguyen May 14, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    awsome!!!! I have 2 weeks trainning for my first LA marathon, finished at 6hr30min, I was so impress of myself that I did it in 2 weeks train. I got so addicted to run after that. But after read this amazing story, Harriet, you’re my role model, I am now 49 years of age, start running 4 years ago, and completed 8 marathon, one of my favorist was in France, Paris. Harriest, you have amazing body for 74 years old.



  • Reply Lucija May 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Harriet you are helping me get over the many times since January 1, 2010 that I’ve asked myself “am I really out of my mind taking up jogging/running at the tender age of 51”? “Is this New Year’s Resolution nutty?” Well, I’m still hanging in there and jogging weekly.

    I watched you cross the line this year and cried tears of joys for you as I did watching Chrissie Wellington cross the line and am so glad Athleta introduced you to us. Thank you and can’t wait to watch you back in Kona this October. Mahalo!

  • Reply Jaymee May 15, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Harriet, you are an inspiration no doubt! I love the fact the you push yourself through barriers and yet are so in tune with yourself, your body, you know when to stop to not incur damage or prolong recovery.

    I am definitely sharing your story, your incredible legacy to athletic conditioning and competition.

    All the best in your continued endeavors….you have an amazing spirit!

  • Reply Chloe Jones-Fryer May 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I so enjoyed this wonderful story about this strong and beautiful woman. What a great source of inspiration, and proof that we can all live our lives to the fullest and conquer challenges at any age!

  • Reply Debi Ponder May 16, 2010 at 3:54 am

    I am not only blown away by Harriet, but also by the many many 50+ entries who are so active – I love it! I was kind of feeling a little old and worn out at 47 – shame on me! I have recently fell from “The Exercise Wagon” . . . but all of you just pulled me back on.

  • Reply wies lambriex-Holland May 16, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Harrriet,my niece sent me your story.Great!
    I’m78 years old and can do a lot,but not like you.
    My English is not so good.

  • Reply Debi May 17, 2010 at 7:47 am

    My daughter sent me this story. I am amazed and inspired. I feel so out of shape at 53 and thought it was too late. I now know it is never too late, to get in shape. Thank you to my daughter Renee for sharing and to Harriet for her inspirational spirit.

  • Reply Doreen May 17, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I had given up due to my many health issues. Hariet has restored my desire to move forward and due and be the best that I can be despite my limitations. I am 64 years old, am learning how to swim and “just do it”.

  • Reply Donna May 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Harriet you are truly an inspiration. Good luck on your future adventures!

  • Reply Kristal May 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I love hearing that there is hope for me to keep exercising as an older woman like I do now as a younger one. What an inspiration you are!

  • Reply Anna T May 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Harriet, You Go Girl!!! Where did you join Master Swim program? Like you, I’m not too good with the swim portion. Stay healthy and be safe.

  • Reply Nona May 18, 2010 at 5:05 am

    UNBELIEVABLE, what a woman. She is such an inspiration, and for me at 47 I am already feeling the changes and differences in my body as I exercise so I can’t imagine the changes at 70, but she presses on and looks amazing. Harriet gives me hope and the perseverance to never stop exercising and challenging myself even if I can’t do things or perform as well as i used to. ROCK ON !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply Chaleen Bloethe Abely May 18, 2010 at 6:27 am

    WOW!!! Words are just not enough to describe Harriet! I FEEL her power just looking at her photo!!! She is my new role model for sure. I think the best part of training is getting massages even if it’s only once a week!!! AngelRide here I come…

  • Reply cathy May 18, 2010 at 7:16 am

    What an amazing woman…and here I was proud of walking 4 miles occasionally…

  • Reply Chris May 18, 2010 at 7:22 am

    your story has helped me realize that no matter how old I am I am never too old to be active and healthy and continue with the sport I love.I am 57 and sometimes feel I’m too old to do this but knowing about you I realize that ridiculous.I’m training for my 2nd Ironman ,knowing your out there doing the same helps with all the miles.Hope to meet you at one of my races.Your one tough lady.

  • Reply Leslee May 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

    She is an amazing inspiration. I am adding her to my “bank” of inspirations which also include Team Hoyt. I pray I will have the same physical endurance at her age. Thank you for the story.

  • Reply Nilda May 18, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Wow! She is an inspiration. I feel motivate to keep working harder and try my best everyday. It will be great if she can come to St. Croix US Virgin Islands to do the half iron man Triathlon.

  • Reply Joni May 18, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration to all triathletes and non-triathletes.

  • Reply Kristen May 19, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I am so inspired by you, Harriet!!! This is a beautiful story of healthy living, perseverance, and achievement. At 42, I sometimes let my body’s imperfections and pains get in the way of getting the most out of my workouts. Pushing through that last leg of the race with a broken clavicle goes to show that where there is a will, there is a way, no matter what the obstacle!

    Keep on truckin’, Harriet!!!

  • Reply Vicki May 19, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Harriett! This is the BEST EVER story, and I just have to thank you for sharing. I will remember your story, when I am feeling like I am just not going to make it. Thank you for this, as it will stay with me as encouragement and make be have a stronger belief in myself! Stay Strong Harriett!

  • Reply Michele May 19, 2010 at 10:02 am

    What an inspiration! I can only hope and pray that when I reach that age I can do HALF of what Harriett does. I will be doing my first Ironman (at the age of 43) this September and I can guarantee you that Harriett’s story will help me push through when the going gets tough.

  • Reply Sara Fontaine May 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    So amazing…thought I was a washed up ex-athlete at 43 but since have started running again and now feel there is another chapter in my life. Thank you from all the women who think their lives are pre-recorded stories of past generations…we need to revamp what being a strong women means, if not for us, for the young daughters growing into tomorrow’s leaders.

  • Reply Donald Sheldon May 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm


    Great inspiration ! Ran my first New York Marathon at age 50 that was 20 years ago. I remember the New York Times interviewed the woman that year who was the oldest person to complete the race. She was angry about how slow her time was and she was so much faster than I was I wanted her time! The marathon got me thinking about our longevity and my question to you all is; What are you going to do with your SECOND hundred years? Thank about it. It changes everything.
    Keep it up Harriette!!!

  • Reply Veronica May 20, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Wow! So inspiring! I’ve been contemplating doing an Ironman and I think this just closed the deal for me! Thank you so much!

  • Reply Ruth May 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Harriett, I am so glad more and more women are hearing about your amazing achievements. I have been inspired for years because you make the rest of us realize that getting older doesn’t have to mean getting more and more out of shape. Your hard work and dedication to fitness is amazing, and though most of us won’t ever be as strong as you, it helps just to know it is possible. Thanks to Athleta, and sports writers like Kathleen and others, hundreds and hundreds of women are gearing up and getting out! But they will also know the rest of their lives just how much is possible for women who go for it! Glad to hear you are back in the pool. See you there!

  • Reply Meghan Ling May 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Kathleen! I didn’t realize you wrote this article, I LOVE IT! Thanks for inspiring us all by introducing us to Harriet. She is truly amazing.

  • Reply Karah May 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Harriet is fabulous-a great role model on so many different levels. The next four people I will share this article with are my three daughters and my son because I want them to know that aging shouldn’t stop one from being an active, healthy person.

  • Reply Teresa May 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    What an inspiration. I completed my first sprint triathalon last August after not competing in sports for 15 years. I am off the “workout wagon” at present and after reading Harriett’s story, it has encouraged me to get my 38 year old rear end back in the gym and train once more. Thank you for posting this.

  • Reply Joanne Dondero May 24, 2010 at 2:28 am

    You are a Ironwoman right to the core finishing with a broken clavicle. I am 63 and have been doing tris for over 23 years and running over 33 years. I am glad to hear that your cycling can get stronger. I’ve struggled with the bike for a long time. I’m hoping to win a slot again this year so I look forward to seeing you at the women’s breakfast in Kona.

  • Reply Amy May 24, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Incredibly inspired by Harriet’s authentic story, life-experience, and the motivation to continue creating, no matter the age, challenges, or reasons that might create a head-game for anyone. Love that she’s still up to something incredible and continuing to keep active. Thank you for sharing her vulnerability with so many. Absolutely brilliant! May she continue to have continual support, admiration, and love for whatever her next adventure may be. I’m a 44 year old grandma that loves to be pushed (beyond resisting) with doing century bike racing, no more running, due to knees, but thanks for creating and sharing a fabulous story, Kathleen…to continue being inspired by Harriet’s story.

  • Reply NATALYE GIVIDEN May 25, 2010 at 4:45 am


  • Reply Lori May 26, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Thank-you so much for sharing your inspiring story! I loved hearing about your gift of endurance and your ability to stay focused on such major goals like ironman. It made me smile to hear that you take time to volunteer with children even while training for such major endurance events. What a beautiful and inspiring life. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Sally aka Ruff May 29, 2010 at 2:38 am

    My goodness, absolute RESPECT, what an inspiration……may you run for ever!

  • Reply Valerie Audrey May 31, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    This story brought me to tears! I imagine how strong Harriet is and WOW- I am so excited to know that this is possible to accomplish in the 70’s. I am training to be a yoga teacher and one reason is that I believe you can do it into your 90’s or beyond. I am very impressed by the strength required for an Ironman. Way to go, Harriet!

  • Reply nicole June 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I love Harriet’s philosophy and her words of wisdom; taking time to do healthy workouts and listen to her body as it ages. As a physical therapist I see too many people not heading what the body tells them. As she mentions she appears to have “learned” perhaps the hard way that recovery isn’t worth the long time loss, to a short time perceived “gain.”

    She certainly has done very well for herself! I love her example!

  • Reply Mary Lanser June 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I enjoyed reading Harriet’s story and am impressed by her physical endeavors. That said, I hope all women who read this story will focus on Harriet’s philosophy of “listen to your body”… and not just the part about pushing yourself and endurance. It is important to realize that all bodies are different and one person’s work out may not be healthy for another. It is also important to be realistic about pain and endorphines. Extensive physically challenging training and racing events pump out massive amounts of endorphines….the danger here is that even breaking a clavicle wasn’t enough to send the message to Harriet that her body was in major distress and that is what endorphines are designed to do….fool us into not feeling the extent of the pain. Endorphines are a hormonal mechanism meant for our bodies use to “get us through” in a life threatening situation not a sporting event! It is also important to be aware that you can definitely get addicted to endorphines, which can cause you to make unwise decisions when an injury occurs. So not to rain on the parade, Harriet is definitely an inspiration, but other women must pay attention to their own bodies and not fool themselves into believing that they can always do it all, to the detriment of their own health and physical well being. A word to the wise, don’t push yourself to extremes that your body cannot withstand since this will not make you healthier. Exercise wisely and you will live healthy much longer!

  • Reply Diana June 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Go Girl!! This is what routine, regular physical activity will do for your body & spirit. Keep moving, keep going; it’s never too late.

  • Reply Vinni June 2, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I am 55 years old and have completed 3 Marathons and numerous Half Marathons. Last year I decided to give “Tri” a try 😉
    The Cross Training has allowed me to remain injury free and in better shape than ever. I was beginning to feel a bit old participating in Triathelons but after reading Harriet’s story I am inspired and more than motivated. I posted her article and picture on my wall and look at it daily. Thank you Harriet for reaffirming that age is not a barrier! Turning 56 in July and plan to complete my first Olympic Distance in NYC on July 18!

  • Reply Cynthe June 3, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I raced triathlons for years and loved the sport. While training for my first half ironman I was hit by a car and broke a LOT of bones. It took me a year to get back to riding my bike and training but eventually was able to complete three Olympic tris before getting pregnant with my first child. Now after two more kids and a full time job I’m finding it so hard to get back in shape. I am happy to see that I am not on a expiration date – I plan to be back on the start line within the next year. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply Cindi S June 3, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Harriet, your story is truly inspirational to me. The first words that came to my lips were “YOU GO GIRL!!” I’m almost 47, been a single mom over 20 years, both my girls are now off to college and I’ve mostly focused on being a good mom and building a career over the past two decades. While the girls were growing up, I always made sure my daughters were active in swimming, water polo, and other sports to ensure they grew up with a healthy enviroment. I use to be active in sports and backpacking before I had children but couldn’t find the energy to continue with exercising once I began my career and had my daughters. Now with the girls off to college, I have free time on my hands and I find myself growing older, sitting behind a computer for 10+ hours a day. Your story about completing the triathlon with a broken clavical is a true testimont to perceverance. You inspire me to push aside my excuses that I’m too old to get back into shape. I live on the Peninsula, do you by chance offer triatholon coaching for us old women 🙂

  • Reply Carrie June 4, 2010 at 12:15 am

    What an amazing, inspirational story!

  • Reply Cheryl June 4, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Harriet is so very inspiring! I am 47 years old, have done many triathlon and marathon races over the last 10 years including one Ironman which I did in 2004. That race took a lot of out of me plus I had 4 ear surgiries following and having trouble getting back into my previous condition. But Harriet’s story and advice on training certainly inspires me to think that perhaps I can get back into racing condition, thanks so much!

  • Reply Kym June 4, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Dear Mrs. Anderson,

    I am 44 years old and your story is one of those amazing wake-up calls that just make me say “well, whaddya waitin’ for, chickie?” I admire your strength and your tenacity and you just keep right on doing what you do! I’m sharing your story with everyone I can. Thank you so much!

  • Reply Michelle June 6, 2010 at 8:14 am

    This makes me happy ;p Thank you Harriet for the inspiration!

  • Reply Melani Howard June 6, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Harriet!!! Wow! I am so proud of you. I am a 37 year old mother of 4. I have been running for 9 years, biking a couple years, and swimming a couple of months. I have committed to my first official tri this August, with a 1/2 Ironman as a future, long term goal. I never dreamed I could do a full Ironman, but you have definitely made me think that it is possible! It really matters what you are doing. Keep on Inspiring us to push on for our goal. Blessings to you!

  • Reply Ellen June 6, 2010 at 11:23 am


  • Reply Patti Barlow June 7, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Thank you for helping me confirm that my renewed passion for fitness is coming at what can be considered during my “younger years”, I am only 46 and see that I can have a long and happy training life ahead!

  • Reply Renee June 8, 2010 at 6:51 am

    You are an inspiration to all women! Proof that goals can be accomplished if you put your mind to it!
    Women tell your daughters that the stars are obtainable, share with them the benefits of health, fitness and friendly competition…it builds a strong foundation and molds inner beauty!!!

  • Reply Mary Puchades June 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Harriet is my idol! She rocks! God bless her. Thank you for writing about her. 🙂

  • Reply Linda June 11, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Joan B (#53), “WOW!!! Kathleen, you have inspired many, my 46 year old, once fit self included. Now time for me to re-engage in that long put off fitness plan!!”

    Joan – You took the EXACT words right out of my mouth! Kathleen is now the center of my inspiration board!!

    Thanks Athleta Chi for a wonderful article that is the inspiration I needed.

  • Reply allyson June 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    wow! what an inspiring story. it isn’t just about Harriet’s age, but her constant determination to challenge herself! I struggle with that, challenging myself. Its stories like this that help me to quiet the voice that says, “you can’t” and make a little louder the voice that says, “you can!”

  • Reply Sheree June 20, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Im 27yrs old and i want to be like Harriet when i grow up…what an inspiration!!

  • Reply Julie June 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Harriet…….words cannot express the inspiration you give to women of all ages. You are amazing! I have tears in my eyes 🙂 “You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sail” I know have a face for that quote:) Keep on going, Lady Harriet!! You ROCK!!

  • Reply Jennifer September 21, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I just love this woman! What an awesome story!!

    And I totally agree, Harriet… TJ’s has the best dark chocolate!

  • Reply Andrey October 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    What a woman! Harriet I am proud of all your success. You can do whatever you want to as long as you put all your passion on it. This article is 200% inspirational to me.

  • Reply Sandy Hazeltine November 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Finished with a broken clavicle? ! Amazing!

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