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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Triathlete Still Plugs Away at 65
By Glen Rosales
Although Art Gardenswartz entered his first off-road, multi-event competition on something of a lark, he made the most of his opportunity at a recent event, winning his age group at the Xterra World Championships in Makena, Hawaii.

It took the 65-year-old Gardenswartz four hours and 27 minutes to complete the rugged course that included a 1.5-kilometer, open-ocean swim, a 30-K mountain bike ride and a 10-K trail run across sand through jungle and over lava.

An avid outdoorsman and veteran of triathlons, Gardenswartz first competed in an off-road, multi-event earlier in the year when a friend, Steve Roholt, persuaded him to go to Ogden, Utah, for a regional competition. Gardenswartz did so well there that he earned a spot in the world championships earlier in November in Hawaii.

"I love being outdoors in the sunlight," he said. "It's just part of my everyday habits. I'm addicted to outdoors exercise."

It's that addiction that made him so competitive at the off-road challenge, even though he had little experience. "I've done a lot of mountain biking," he said. "And I'm a pretty good skier." Those attributes came in handy on the bicycling portion of the event as the course took rider through 2,500 feet of elevation gain up the side of a volcano, then subsequent decline back down the other side.

He also knows how to get his body ready. In May he did the grueling Iron Horse bicycle ride from Durango to Silverton.

Then he really picked up the intensity of his training, riding the Sandia Ski Area three or four times a week, and hitting the bike trails on Otero Mesa. He would regular run the Pino Trail, which twists and turns for almost five miles to the Sandia ridge south of the summit. That, however, did little prepare him for the run in Hawaii.

"We had to run on the beach for about a mile, then we went through an obstacle course in the jungle," Gardenswartz said.

Although he entered the race without any expectations, he checked the time of last year's age group winner and figured he should be able to give it a challenge. He did better than that, beating it by about 20 minutes. "It went pretty well," he said. "I think I've aged pretty well." Gardenswartz was not the only New Mexican to turn in a solid showing. Caroline Colonna of Taos was second in the 40-44 age group in a time of 3:48:47 and Bill Blankenship of Santa Fe was third in the 55-59 age group in a time of 4:01.53. "I think New Mexico just has a lot of good outdoor athletes," Gardenswartz said.


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