Better late than never
Rolly Burton, 72, honoured with Frank Hayday Memorial "Late Bloomer" Award at St. Albert Triathlon
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 06:00 am
A heart attack 18 months ago didn’t stop Rolly Burton from achieving a podium finish as the recipient of the Frank Hayday Memorial “Late Bloomer” Award at the 24th annual St. Albert Triathlon on Sunday.
The award honours the oldest competitor in their first triathlon.
“It feels really good, mainly the finishing part,” said Burton, 72, with a sigh of relief. “I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to do it but I finally did it.”
The grandfather of four placed second overall in the men’s 70-plus age category in the sprint distance race in two hours, eight minutes and 41 seconds as the 196th finisher out of 198 competitors who completed the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-km run.
“It was really, really neat to finish the thing,” said the longtime St. Albert resident.
Burton was clocked at 24:11 in the pool, 1:00:44 on the bike and 43:47 during the run.
“I didn’t even look at the times. I didn’t know how much was reasonable, how much is slow, how much is fast. I just wanted to finish,” said the retired Alberta Government Telephones employee. “The swim went really, really well but the bike, I used to commute into Edmonton on the bike when I worked so I thought I was a biker but that was the tough part. It wore me out for the running. If I didn’t have the bike behind me, the running would’ve been OK but I walked a lot of the running path.”
Richard Roberts, 70, of St. Albert – competing in his 24th straight St. Albert Triathlon – was the top 70-plus male in 1:39:35 (14:22 swim, 49:42 bike, 35:31 run) for 144th overall.
In third place was Jerry Moran of St. Albert in 2:09:00 (20:46 swim, 1:05:11 bike, 43:04 run) for 197th overall.
Visit www.resultscanada.com for complete race results.
Burton started training four years ago in preparation for his triathlon debut, but a heart attack sucked the wind out of his sails.
“I thought I can bike and anybody can run so I swam every day but then a year and a half ago I had a heart attack. I couldn’t do anything for a year and then I got back into it.”
It was small steps at first for Burton, leading up to the popular Kick STARRT Newbie Triathlon Clinic, a seven-week course prior to Sunday’s race hosted by the St. Albert Road Runners and Triathlon Club for first time triathletes.
“(My doctor) said I could walk five minutes and then add five minutes a day walking. The second day was 10 minutes, the third day was 15 and I did that all winter. I got up to about an hour and a half walk but I still couldn’t run,” he said. “By spring I could run and I could time it by telephone poles. I could run one pole and walk one, then run one and walk one and then I got to where I could run two, walk one, run three, walk one, and so on.
“I had to cut back to that on the run today because the last part of it I had run out of gas.”
The Late Bloomer award was a pleasant surprise for Burton. It was established in 2011 in memory of Frank Hayday of the St. Albert Road Runners and Triathlon Club. Hayday’s first triathlon was 2001 at age 56. The next year he represented Canada at the world age group championships in Cancun. He also qualified for worlds in 2003 and 2004 but didn’t race because of an injury. He qualified again in 2005 and competed in Hawaii.
The owner/operator of Karl Hager Limb & Brace for 30 years died of mesothelioma on Jan. 21, 2011.
“I didn’t expect this. It’s extra special,” said Burton.
He stressed age has no barrier for first-time triathletes to go the distance.
“If I can, anybody can and I’ve never been a real jock,” he said. “I’m going to do it again but this time I’m going to get a new bike for sure.”