The camaraderie is as important as the competition when it comes to athletics, says Donald Webster, 64, of Atlanta, who is a runner and cyclist. Webster is a member of the South Fulton Race club, the Metro Atlanta Cycling Club and Black Men Run. He says teammates hold him accountable.
“If I miss a couple of runs, it’s ‘Hey, where is Don?’” he says. “No question that’s what has kept me consistent over all these years — the people.”
Webster competes in 5Ks, 10Ks duathlons and an occasional half marathon. He even completed a couple of marathons. Last year, with races sidelined by COVID-19, Webster decided to enter a “virtual road race,” in which people ran and entered their times online.
“It’s just not the same,” says Webster. “People run on different terrains, different courses… I’m looking forward to post-COVID to get out there with crowds.”
He already signed up for the 52nd Annual Peachtree Road Race, which takes place July 3 and 4, through Atlanta. He considers himself an “age-grouper,” meaning he competes against people his own age. This December, Webster will turn 65, which puts him in the 65-69 group. “I’ll be among the youngest in that age group, something to look forward to,” he says.
Taking up a sport later in life
You don’t have to have had a long athletic career to benefit from a bit of competition. Bill Cordes, 75, of St. Cloud, Florida, is a late bloomer who recently placed third in the U.S. Tennis Association 50-and-over 3.0 division in the National Singles Championship. Cordes didn’t start competing in tennis until 2018. Up until then, he had been an avid spectator, attending tournaments and following his favorites, like Roger Federer.
Then he heard that the USTA planned to build a world-class national tennis facility in Orlando. The 64-acre facility includes a player development area for professional athletes, including those who compete in Grand Slams.
Unfazed by his age and inexperience — he occasionally played on the weekends, but had never competed — Cordes persuaded his wife to move nearly four hours north to be near the campus “so I could play every day,” he says.
A U.S. Army veteran, Cordes signed up for a USTA military program that offers free instruction for military members, took some lessons and started competing. His tennis career blossomed.