Dr. Paul Loree, a resident at John Knox Village, is in his eighties. He’s also training for his second triathlon. Excerpts of Paul’s story are reprinted with permission from the Winter 2021 Edition of LeadingAge® Florida Senior Living, as written by Nick Fortuna.
“It wasn’t quite as iconic as Rocky Balboa running through the streets of Philadelphia, but back in 2016, John Knox Village in Pompano Beach served as the training grounds for its own inspirational athlete: A longtime resident who’s still defying Father Time and redefining what it means to be active in retirement.
“To celebrate his 80th birthday, Paul Loree participated in the Summer Sizzler “sprint” triathlon in Grand Island, NY, a grueling contest featuring a quarter-mile swim in the Niagara River, a 10-mile bicycle race, and a 1.9-mile run. Organizers expect some competitors to wither in the oppressive August heat; during the final section, athletes run past a first-aid station not once but twice, getting access to water, electrolytes and, if need be, medical care.
Paul Loree bike training on the streets of John Knox Village.
“Loree was the oldest athlete in the field of 105, but he showed up primed for his best effort. Howard, his oldest son who had run in the Boston Marathon many times, had urged him to mark his milestone birthday by participating in his first triathlon. Howard would be there too, going in the “Formula I” triathlon, comprised of two sprint triathlons back to back.
“Orthopedic problems with Loree’s feet mean that he would have to race-walk instead of run, which obviously would hurt his final time. Nevertheless, he felt fit and spry on race day, having trained hard for many months at John Knox Village.
“Loree had calculated that 22 lengths of the community’s swimming pool equaled a quarter-mile, and he gradually worked his way up from one length a day to 30. He also spent each day touring the community’s 70-acre campus on bike or on foot. Leading up to the race, Loree and wife Sally visited their summer home in Franklinville, NY, where he completed his training, using the region’s rolling hills to build his stamina.
Sally and Paul Loree with their dog Pumpkin.
“In the end, Loree certainly held his own, hitting the wire in 1:36.38 and beating two younger competitors. His time of 44:41 for the bike race beat out 24 competitors.“My son gave me about nine months’ notice, so I went into training and did a lot of it right here at John Knox Village,” Loree said. “The triathlon was a good experience, but I was pooped at the end of it. It was pretty tiring.
“My wife said to me, ‘I don’t think you should do this anymore; I think it’ll kill you,’” he added with a laugh. “But I was really pleased that I succeeded in doing that with my son.” “Now 85, Loree is as busy as ever. A typical morning on the 70-acre life-plan retirement community campus includes several hours of tai chi, weight training, advanced aerobics, bicycling, walking or kayaking. Despite all that exercise, he’s rarely too tired to volunteer or be civically engaged.
“Loree represents his floor of Heritage Tower in his community’s Resident Senate, having previously served as the group’s president, and chairs its Health Care committee. He also serves on the board of the John Knox Village chapter of the Florida Life Care Residents Association, a nonprofit that advocates for residents of continuing-care retirement communities before the same legislature and regulatory agencies.”
Not satisfied to rest on his 2016 laurels, Paul is following his five-year plan. He is training for another triathlon and has circled the Cranberry Triathlon in Lakeville, MA on Saturday, Aug. 21. His quest will be the Sprint Triathlon consisting of: 1⁄2-mile swim, 14-mile bike and 3.1-mile run.
Paul’s son Howard, a biomedical engineer in the Boston area, will compete alongside dad as his “angel,”overseeing Paul’s progress along the route. Howard will compete again the next day in the
Olympic-length triathlon, while Paul cheers him on. When asked why he continues on his triathlon challenges, Paul said, “I did one at 80 to prove I could do it. It’s the same reason for doing it at 85. And I hope to be able to do it again at 90.”
Good luck Paul.