What's age got to do with it? 50- and 60-something triathletes say go for it

Age-groupers extraordinaire Ann and Bill Fordiani of Newport Beach, Calif., at the World Duathlon Championships  in St. Wendel, Germany
When it comes to living life to the extreme, nothing seems to be out of reach for Ann and Bill Fordiani. Besides having superhuman athletic talents and rock-hard bodies, this Newport Beach, Calif., couple is blessed with beauty and brains. Not bad for a 64-year-old guy and a 52-year-old gal.

A typical day in their life includes anything from a grueling 15-mile run through the El Moro Canyon to a mountain biking adventure through the gnarly San Juan mountain trail. If you dare to join them on a vacation, dont forget to bring your ice axe and glacier gear to hike through the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming.

Beginning in 1996, the invincible duo has trekked 56 mountain peaks in California, leaving them just two shy of accomplishing their goal of hiking the highest points in every county in California. Their ultimate goal is to climb the highest peak in every state in the United States. To date, they have completed 48, with only Montana and Alaska left to conquer. For the past six years, Ann Fordiani also has been ranked #1 in her age group on the All-American Triathlon team.

Last summer Bill Fordiani formed "the world's oldest triathlon team" to compete in the Bonelli Park sprint series in Los Angeles, with the emphasis in "old," he says. Besides Fordiani, the team included Bill Nice, 86, of Newport Beach and Lauren Shoemaker, 71, of Orange, and they set a new record for the "200 and older" age group. The Fordianis also won their respective age groups at the race.

The couple met in 1971 at an Orange County electronics firm where they both worked. Bill was a 33-year-old divorcee with two young children, working mega-hours in the sales field. He says those were the days of three-martini lunches, in what he considered a party business. The most active thing he did was tow his boat to the river for a weekend of waterskiing and partying. At the time, Ann was 22 and a member of a womens soccer team.

The two immediately clicked and began canoeing and sailing together. Eventually, Bill bought a small sailboat and Ann joined him in frequenting the Newport-Balboa sailing scene. For the next nine years, they enjoyed meeting up with friends on weekends for some low-key racing and partying. Reflecting back, they agree that at the time they were quite content with their moderately active lifestyle.

But after Bill's father become critically ill, he feared he may suffer the same fate if he didnt make some health changes in his own life. He went to his doctor for advice and was immediately ordered to slim down and shape up his bowling ball physique. As and incentive to change his party lifestyle, Bills brother challenged him to a local triathlon, and the seed was planted.

It took no coaxing to get Ann involved in joining him in entering local running races. Before long, both were regularly bringing home winners medals. They joined a local cycling club and were soon riding 100 miles per week. They both took up with the masters swimming program at the Newport-Mesa YMCA and began competing in triathlons throughout the California region.

Ann and Bill soon joined the Your Name Here (Mission Hospital) triathlon team. They received invitations and competed in world championship triathlon and duathlon races in England, Australia and Italy. In 1996, Ann was the first U.S. finisher in her age group, placing seventh in Ferraro, Italy, and in 1998, took home the bronze medal in the world duathlon championship in St. Wendell, Germany.

Ann considers Bill the motivator of the couple, setting goals and times to achieve. Bill says Ann is the competitive one and sets her sights on winning.

If shes in second place, shell spill her guts out to win," Bill says, whereas he is happy to finishing feeling good. Regardless, they agree that fitness is now their way of life.

Even though racing occupies a large portion their free time, the couple refuses to push the limit to the point of where it is no longer fun. Both agree that they have no desire to compete in an Ironman triathlon because of the time demands of training for such a long event.

Bill considers himself to be in active retirement, even though he currently works full-time as an engineer for a local electronics firm. Ann works part-time as a corporate travel planner in Irvine. They also find time to ski frequently, including frequent trips to Yosemite, Tahoe and Mammoth.

As for future goal, both agree that they have no plans on slowing down in the near future. As long as their bodies stay healthy and injury-free, they want to continue to experience everything life has to offer them.

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