By Susan Bromley
Robin Hoeffel competed at the National Senior Games this summer, an athlete representing not only Michigan, but more importantly for her, a philosophy.
“I like to stay strong and represent the idea that even though you get older, you can still stay active and have so much fun,” said Hoeffel, an Atlas Township resident who turns 54 in December. “When you’re older, it doesn’t mean you have to sit in a chair and wait for people to come visit you. You’re still part of the community and I encourage people to be active, no matter their age. Moving around is my happy place. Find your happy place and do it.”
The National Senior Games is an Olympic-style biennial competition for those 50 and over and which features 19 different sports ranging from team sports like basketball and volleyball to individual events in swimming, track and field, archery, bowling and more. This year’s event, a 30th anniversary gathering, was held from June 2-15 in Birmingham, Ala. and drew more than 10,500 athletes.
Hoeffel participated in two events, the 5K— in which she placed seventh in the women’s 50-54 age group with a time of 26:56; and the 10K, where she finished fifth in her age group with a time of 56:20.
To get to the National Senior Games, Hoeffel qualified by placing in the top three of each of these events at the Michigan Senior Olympics last August. She took up running 10 years ago and in 2013, to celebrate her 50th year of life, ran an equal number of races in a 12-month span.
Hoeffel recently celebrated the birth of her third grandchild, John, and has no plans to slow down. She is running 80 races per year of various distances, despite the occasional injuries. It’s not the years, it’s the miles, and for Hoeffel, that can vary, too. On average, she runs four to five days per week, between 3 and 10 miles. She will race in the Crim Festival of Races in Flint later this month, and hopes to qualify to compete at the Huntsman World Senior Games, which will be held in October in St. George, Utah. Beyond the qualifying time required, how fast she generally runs is not a concern for Hoeffel.
“I am as fast as I can go,” she said. “That doesn’t make me the best, doesn’t make me the worst, but what it does is motivate me to be my best, and that is what is important to each and every one of us… It’s important to keep going, no matter how old you are. Whether it’s bowling, horseshoes, reading, or sewing, just do it and find that happy place and stay stronger. We all have a specialty and no matter your age, don’t give it up and if you want to try new things, just do it. There is no age limit to happiness, right?”
By Susan Bromley