Enduring Beyond Barriers: The Harriet Anderson Story

Harriet Anderson - 2009 Ironman World ChampionWhen 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.

THE JOURNEY BEYOND

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.

THE PATH TO IRONMAN

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.”

TRIATHLON FOR LIFE

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.

A TRAINING SCHEDULE THAT WORKS

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.

INGREDIENTS FOR SUCCESS

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.

KONA 2010, HERE SHE COMES

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 »

Comments

  1. Katheryn says:

    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!

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  2. nancy hazelwood says:

    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

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  3. anne marie says:

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

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  4. Catherine Dickson says:

    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! :)

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  5. jennifer murphy says:

    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

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  6. John says:

    Wow. i am in awe.

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  7. Lori says:

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

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  8. Camille says:

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

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  9. Beth says:

    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.

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  10. Amanda Kennealy says:

    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

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  11. Kele says:

    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.

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  12. Barbara says:

    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.

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  13. Jilly Anson Fischer says:

    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.

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  14. molly jarvis says:

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

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  15. Christi says:

    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!

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  16. Kiersten says:

    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!

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  17. Denise says:

    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

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  18. Harriet Langlois says:

    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!

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  19. melanie says:

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

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  20. Sara says:

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

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  21. SamE says:

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

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  22. Robin says:

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

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  23. Ellen Holthaus says:

    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!

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  24. Andrea says:

    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!

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  25. Kristi says:

    Definitely an inspiration!

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  26. Gail says:

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

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  27. michelle says:

    Amazing! Thank you for writing this very inspiring story.

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  28. Barbara C. says:

    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!

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  29. Susan Kennedy says:

    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!!

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  30. Keone says:

    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.

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  31. Shannon Cavendish says:

    WOW! What an Amazing woman!

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  32. Nicole Melton says:

    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!

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  33. Mary says:

    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!!

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  34. melissa says:

    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!!

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  35. Heather says:

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

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  36. Becky Smith says:

    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.

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  37. Janet says:

    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.

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  38. Robin says:

    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.

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  39. Charlene S says:

    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!

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  40. Nancy says:

    You are a true inspiration! Good Bless You!

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  41. Nicole says:

    Thank you for sharing an amazing woman with us Athleta! ;-)

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  42. Sarah says:

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

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  43. Patricia says:

    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.

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  44. Sandy says:

    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.

    Sandy

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  45. Lani C. says:

    WOW! You are an inspiration!

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  46. Kristina says:

    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!

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  47. Maureen says:

    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.

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  48. Jenny says:

    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!

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  49. Wendy P says:

    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!

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  50. Kerri M says:

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

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  51. Rosie talmadge says:

    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!!

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  52. sharan says:

    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!!!!

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  53. Joan B says:

    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!!

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  54. Audrey says:

    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!

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  55. Theresa says:

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

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  56. meghan says:

    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!

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  57. 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!

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  58. Regina says:

    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.

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  59. Tami says:

    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!

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  60. Lisa says:

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

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  61. Gabriela says:

    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.

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  62. Barb says:

    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!

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  63. Billie says:

    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.

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  64. Kim says:

    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!

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  65. jackii pellett says:

    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!

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  66. LAURA says:

    IN THIS WORLD OF NEGATIVES AND DARKNESS , YOU HARRIET ARE A BECON OF INSPIRATION AND LIGHT FOR ALL WOMEN. THANKS FOR SHINING ON ME TODAY.

    Like: Thumb up 1

  67. Kristen says:

    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!

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  68. Mary Louise says:

    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….

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  69. Lisa says:

    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!

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  70. Maura says:

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

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  71. Kathy says:

    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.

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  72. Emma says:

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

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  73. Juniper says:

    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!)

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  74. Barb says:

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

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  75. Marcia says:

    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!

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  76. Katrina says:

    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.

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  77. Joyce says:

    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.

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  78. Monica says:

    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.

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  79. Katie says:

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

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  80. Cay says:

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

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  81. Teresa says:

    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.

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  82. Quix says:

    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!

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  83. AnnMarie Schneider says:

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

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  84. Christa Dierksen says:

    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

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  85. Nathalie bertrand says:

    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

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  86. 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!

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  87. Tokewa S. says:

    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.

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  88. Nancy McCaffrey says:

    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!

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  89. Kathy Anich says:

    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!

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  90. Katherine Nelsen-Allan says:

    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

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  91. Leslie says:

    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!

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  92. Zandra says:

    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! =)

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  93. Nancy, better known as Nana2Tri says:

    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!

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  94. Elizabeth says:

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

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  95. Audra Ottaway says:

    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!

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  96. Julie Greenberg says:

    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!

    Warmly,

    Julie Greenberg

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  97. Julie Donovan says:

    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!

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  98. Linda Kelley says:

    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!

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  99. Summer says:

    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!

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  100. Catherine Dickson says:

    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!!!

    Thank-you!!!!

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