Monday, December 21, 2015

Band Of Brothers: The Fresno Old Farts

Dale Matson

At age 71, I am the youngest member of a group of Fresno California men who have regularly met on Thursday mornings for over 20 years. I am certain that every city and town in America has a group of men who regularly meet for morning coffee and chat. Traditionally we have followed our meet up with a bike ride. It is shorter and less ambitious than it used to be and some of us no longer do the ride part of our ritual. I was never a big fan of a cold weather bicycle ride. Isn’t that why they have exercycles at the fitness center?

What is different about this group is our common continuing involvement in sports competition in general and triathlons in particular. Most members are also long time members of the Fresno Joggers. The Fresno Joggers as a group has aged and their weekly Saturday morning meet up at Woodward Park now means one lap around the park at a brisk walk. The breakfast following remains an important part of the ritual.

The Thursday morning group originally met at Chuck Freuler’s house for coffee and a ride but now meet at a local restaurant called Batter Up. We usually try to avoid discussing religion and politics because firmly held opinions have led to sharp disagreements. The main topic of conversation is the most recent competition results and “war stories” from ancient and distant competitions. We also offer up the “organ recital” of ongoing physical maladies and health emergencies.

Some in our group were also race organizers and directors. Chuck’s opening question to me is always, “What’s your next event?” Most of my events require a backpack and not a race number these days. This is a group of men who are still very much in the hunt when it comes to age group victories in this or that event.

Chuck not only was a Hawaii Ironman finisher in his late 50’s, he won the 85-year-old age group in the sprint triathlon world championships in London. He was also one of the original organizers of the Two Cities Half Marathon. Franz Weinschank was the race director for the popular Shaver Lake Triathlon and was the first 90 year old to finish the annual Merced Triathlon. Chris Denny has completed over 200 triathlons, finished the grueling 155-mile Climb To Kaiser bike race in his 60’s and the Boston Marathon in his 70’s. As a younger man, he competed in both the 2-mile and 10K Woodward Park races on the same day and won both in his age group. Mark Hayman completed the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, earning a silver buckle for a sub 24-hour finish. He and Chris have also been involved in rock climbing. Warren Rosenbaum accomplished the California Triple Crown (3-200mile bike rides in one year) in his mid 60’s.  Others of us, like Bruce McKee, Walt Brown, while less skilled have similar accomplishments. Franz, Chris and I have completed the 211-mile John Muir Trail. (They did it as thru hikers and I did it as a section hiker.)

Perhaps as noteworthy is the fact that while all of us have had health challenges, we remain engaged in the life of our Fresno community. Bruce still teaches at Fresno State. Franz finally retired from teaching at Fresno Community College last year and will have a story published in a national journal next year. Chuck and Joy are still world travelers as well as Bruce and his wife. Walt continues to be the editor of the Jogger Newsletter and keeps up with the latest computer hardware and software innovations. I became an Anglican Priest following my retirement as a professor.

Chuck hosted his annual Christmas week luncheon get together for our group and many more who are long time Fresno competitors. There are less of us than there used to be but most of us stubbornly continue to ‘…run the good race’.   

Click On Photographs To Enlarge
 (L To R) Chris and Dale
 (LTo R) Mark, Dan, Chris
 Warren With Back To Window
 (L To R) Bruce, Franz, Phil and Walt
 (L To R) Bruce and Chuck  

1 comment:

  1. Franz Weinschank passed on June 1st at Hinds Hospice at age 92. RIP Franz