Don Ardell – Difficulty and suffering are prerequisites for fulfillment

The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book.

Don Ardell is a 71 year-old triathlete who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.  In 2009, he won his age group at both the US National Sprint Triathlon Championship in Newport Beach, Virginia, and the World Sprint Triathlon Championship on the Gold Coast of Australia.

Don started his athletic career playing all manner of games growing up in Southwest Philadelphia.  In high school, he ran track and cross-country.  He joined the U.S. Air Force straight out of high school and managed to earn a spot on base and All-Air Force teams for football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball and, of course, track as a miler. Don did anything he could to stay off KP and performing the boring duties of a lowly airman, so that he could attend courses for college credits when not off representing one air base team or another.  Don was observed by a college basketball scout during an air force tournament that led to his eventual matriculation at George Washington University on a full basketball scholarship. Thus, Don “began” his college years as a sophomore with credits accumulated at night during his Air Force years.  This made it possible to take lighter loads while playing varsity basketball, acting in student drama and musical comedy productions, and chasing coeds, one of whom he married. 

After completing graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in urban planning, Don took up competitive handball.  Playing throughout his 30’s, Don  won many titles, including the Minnesota state championship.  Entering his forties, Don discovered road running.  Five years later, and after many marathons, Don moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Orlando to teach at a university and manage a wellness center.  All Don’s new friends seemed to be engaged in the relatively new sport of triathlon, so Don took that up as well.

Don’s introduction to triathlon happened as a consequence of his work.  He was the featured speaker at a hospital wellness conference in Kansas City.  While there, he was asked to do the event as a promotion for his wellness lectures.  On a borrowed bike and with the aid of all kinds of swimming aides just shy of water wings, Don survived the encounter, managing to finish the ordeal almost but not quite last, due to his strong running ability.  But, Don was hooked on the sport and, in time, would learn how to swim properly and ride a bike in a competitive manner.

Don has been involved in the wellness movement since the 1970’s.  He wrote the first popular book that helped to create a wellness movement,“High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs and Disease, published by Rodale Press in 1976.  Don has written 15 other books since and delivered hundreds of presentations at hospitals, worksites and conferences throughout the US and sixteen other countries.  His newsletter, the ARDELL WELLNESS REPORT, has been circulated globally since 1984, and over 500 editions have been produced and distributed. 

I’m sponsoring a contest for the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge members that I thought you would be interested in. It is a photo contest for people who have taken the Challenge and has a first place prize of $300 in Target gift cards, while the 2nd place prize is an iPod. All you need to do is be a member, submit a picture with your 50-k “My Active Life” T-shirt in it, and have other members vote for your photo.  If you aren’t a member yet, then go to and register. If you don’t have a shirt, you can get one at the store. The contest opens on 11/17/09, but I wanted to give readers of my blog a heads up. If you’re not a member, register and order your shirt today, so you can have the most time to get votes, which close on 12/17/09 at midnight. Go to on 11/17/09 fo rmore information about the contest.

I also thought that you might find it funny to see how my wife Sylvia and I spent s Snowy Sunday… Climbing in our basement!


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