With the 2016 Olympic games about to commence, we anticipate the drama and sheer excitement of watching our nation’s athletes compete on the world stage. We will hear of new and returning competitors and how they found their beginnings via predictable and assorted paths. We will be granted fast-forward storylines of how rigorous training and wholehearted dedication yield world-class Olympic performers. Some of us will be inspired, and perhaps motivated, by their single-mindedness, beautiful forms and their ambition to attain audacious goals. And some of us may simply relish in the pleasure of spectating from the sofa, informed by our unquestionable paradigms that athletic excellence is limited to only the gifted as we ask the friend beside us, “Please pass the guacamole.” [Skip to podcast]
As one who is journeying through mid-life and discovered only five years ago the joy of road biking, I wonder …
- Are late-blooming and returning athletes past the point of reaching their peak performance?
- Do accomplished athletes struggle as newer athletes do?
- Are there fundamental principles that they understand but we miss?
- Do they wrestle with negative thoughts and exasperate over performance plateaus to the point of wanting to quit?
- What, if anything, could we have in common with those decorated in gold medallions and blue ribbons?
Meet Garth and Jack
I had the incredible opportunity this summer to meet, converse and bike with two elite athletes as we participated in the Cascade Triple Challenge (a three-day cycling event hosted by Bowen Sports Performance). Garth McKay and Jack Fultz competed on the world stage of running in the 1970s. McKay held the second fastest three-mile running time in the nation in 1973 (to one of America’s greatest runners, Steve Prefontaine) and seventh in the world. Fultz won the Boston Marathon in 1976. Today, at ages sixty-six and sixty-eight respectively, they are avid cyclists.
I was fascinated to discover that these world-class athletes experienced the same hurdles and challenges that we aspiring athletes wrestle with. Eager to glean any secrets, tips or tricks they were willing to share, I asked if I could interview them and explore how their journeys might inform ours.
The podcast below captures thirteen minutes of this impromptu conversation recorded on Sunday, June 26th, 2016 at Crystalwood Lodge in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Whether you are new to cycling or simply interested in improving your riding skills, listening may inspire you as Garth McKay and Jack Fultz speak to the real challenges of first-timers, newer cyclists who do not have an athletic background and those of us who simply endeavor to improve our cycling skills. Click the play button below to listen.
“If it doesn’t add years to my life, at least it will add life to my years.” – Jack Fultz
Then and Now
Today, Garth McKay is a retired research scientist from the Oregon Research Institute, competitive road cyclist, street photographer and music lover. For more, visit GarthMcKay.com.
Jack Fultz has a masters in sports psychology, is a retired sports performance psychologist and instructor of sports psychology at Tufts University, avid road cyclist, personal trainer and running coach which includes training athletes for the Boston Marathon. For more, visit Wikipedia on Jack Fultz.