HARRIET ANDERSON is a triathlete who inspired us when her story, Enduring Beyond Barriers, was featured on the Chi blog in May 2010. This past October, she completed her 19th Ironman World Championship, earning her a first place medal for the tenth time (she placed in the top five the other nine times) while being the only woman in the 75-79 age group to complete the race. Did we mention she’s also run 20 marathons, completed the Wildflower Long Course Triathlon 21 times, and won the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon four times?
Harriet was raised in a household of four females after her father died when she was four years old. She played tennis in high school, was a majorette in the band, and in college worked at a High Sierra camp in Yosemite where her natural endurance allowed her to keep up with the boys when they hiked Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Waterwheel Falls, and Glacier Point. In 1960 she married and started a family, but remained active backpacking, scuba diving and skiing with her husband and children. It wasn’t until after her children left for college that Harriet started training for her first triathlon — at age 51. She currently trains at her athletic club five days a week, which includes three Spin classes, two yoga classes, and two Pilates classes, and also swims with a masters group. Pushing her body to the limit is how Harriet lives up to her personal mantra Never Give Up, and by doing so she’s breaking through perceived limitations of what an aging body can do.
With her professional background in nursing — B.S., R.N., and PHN degrees plus 30 years of experience as a school nurse — Harriet understands the needs of the aging body from a medical and scientific perspective, and hopes to be a role model for older athletes. She shares her knowledge at public talks in senior homes, where she discusses the importance of exercise, the physiological changes that occur with time, how to deal with longer recovery periods, acquiring adequate nutrition, and in general, how to train in a way that accommodates your body. On the other end of the age spectrum, Harriet volunteers at elementary schools where she discusses the importance of exercise from an early age, and has also assisted at a kids triathlon.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS & CREDENTIALS:
- 20 Marathons PR 3:52
- 21 Wildflower Long Course Triathlons (19 1st place finishes)
- 11 ½ Ironman Vineman Triathlons (11 1st place finishes)
- 1 World Triathlon Championship age group 65-69 (Edmonton, Canada 1st place)
- 19 Kona Ironmans, Top 5-9 times, and 10 1st place finishes
- 4 Alcatraz Triathlons (4 1st places)
- Numerous Olympic Distance Triathlons
- B.S., R.N., PHN in Nursing
- School Nurse for 30 years
- Finish the Wildflower ½ Ironman Triathlon in under 8 hours
- Finish the Kona Ironman race in under 15 hours
- Finish the 2.4 mile swim under 1 hour, 45 minutes