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Posted 24 Jul 2001   For week ended July 13, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 10Jul01

By Mark Wright

A 78-year-old Mormon Iron Man

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Max Burdick is 78 years old. He stands 5-foot-7 and weighs about 135 pounds. He's also deaf and wears hearing aids in both ears. In fact, he looks much more like the grandfather he is than like a world-class athlete. But amazingly enough, Burdick has proven his athletic prowess by repeatedly participating in one of the most difficult and challenging sports in the world, the triathlon. The triathlon is a grueling competition that combines a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile run, all completed back-to-back. The most famous triathlon competition is the Ironman held each year in Kona, Hawaii and which attracts elite triathletes from all over the world, including Burdick.

A long-time resident of Holladay, Utah, Burdick entered his first Kona Ironman competition in 1982. He's returned almost every year since, competing in 17 races and finishing the tortuous course six times. His journey to becoming an Iron man began when he was 43 years old and received orders from his doctor to start exercising. 35 years and tens of thousands of miles later, Burdick is a legend in the world of triathlons. Along with three other triathletes, Burdick is a member of the "Methuselah Gang." The membership qualifications are simple to understand yet difficult to attain; you must be at least 75 years old, have competed in the Kona Ironman event for at least 15 years, and have finished the competition at least five times.

Known as a "good Mormon" by his fellow competitors, Burdick is also known for his unorthodox training regimen. "I don't train wisely," says Burdick, who trains alone because he says he can't hear anyone else anyway. "I have no real training schedule," he says. "Sometimes, I may do three or four events in a day, other days I might do none."

Regardless of his training technique, Burdick's impressive performance over a long period of time has earned him the respect of his fellow triathletes. "Max is a real phenomenon and a solid triathlete," says longtime friend and competitor Norton Davey, who competes in the age group above Burdick (80-over). "I don't think I could even show up for a race doing as little as he does! It's incredible what that guy can do." When asked about his future in the sport, Burdick notes that he thinks he can continue, even though training is not his favorite part of competing. "A lot of my buddies have said they would train and compete until they die. Some of them did just that," Burdick muses. "I haven't said that yet. There are times when I get tired of training."

While he's definitely slowing down and hasn't finished the Kona Ironman race since 1992, don't expect Burdick to quit anytime soon. He's hoping to compete in Hawaii again this year, despite not yet having earned a spot in the competition. However, based on his keen competitive spirit and his unfailing determination, don't be surprised to see Burdick cross the finish line in Hawaii once again.


Burdick and fellow 'Methuselahs' aim for Hawaiian invite
Salt Lake Tribune 8Jul01 S2
By Carrie Sheinberg: Salt Lake Tribune


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