Category Archives: Triathletes

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!


Myrna Hagg – On a mission

The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book. If you would like to see future profiles that I post, please subscribe on this page.

Myrna Hagg
Myrna Running on the Florida Beach

Myrna Hagg is a 50 year old triathlete who lives in Tampa, Florida. Myrna has been an athlete as far back as she can remember. She was on the swim team in high school and took up running in her twenties. Myrna discovered triathlons in her late twenties when someone in her town told her about races where you ran, cycled, and swam. Myrna did a local sprint triathlon and won. Her second triathlon was a half-Ironman and to her surprise, she qualified for the Kona Ironman in Hawaii. Myrna had great success in triathlons, ranking as high as 4rth nationally. Despite this success, when asked about her greatest accomplishment in our interview, Myna told me about the mission she has been on for over 20 years to help overweight people by teaching them how to view food differently and become active. Myrna has helped thousands of people break their food addictions and changed their lives.

I am inspired by people like Myrna who recognize how lucky they are and give back. I recently decided that I will dedicate a chapter in my book to athletes that I interviewed who are doing just that, giving back.

The tentative title for my upcoming book that features the 50 athletes that I interviewed is, “Lesson for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50: Dream It, Live It, Love It.” I feel that this title summarizes the focus of the book. I am trying to distill lessons that I have learned in the process of interviewing the 50 athletes over 50. It has been an amazing journey and I want to share my observations and the insights gained with the world. While the lesson came from interviews with athletes over 50 years of age, I believe that the people who stand to benefit the most are in their twenties, thirties, and forties. It is within this period of time where we need to make being active a lifestyle in order to sustain an active life well beyond 50. The athletes I interviewed have all done so and have great lessons to share.

I want to thank all of you who have been sending me email encouraging me in this project as well as in my 50-k Active Challenge project. I’m having a blast doing these projects, but sometimes like this past two weeks when I had to do some business travel, it really helped to open up my email and see word of encouragement. Please keep comments on my blog coming as well as email to

Stephen Black – Successful transition from podium to lifestyle

The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book Dream It, Live It, Love It. Subscribe to see upcoming profiles by email.

Stephen on teh Run in the Kona Ironman

Stephen on the Run in the Kona Ironman

Stephen Black is a 57 year old triathlete who lives in Lafayette, Colorado where he combines his passion for athletics with his profession as a physical therapist. In high school, Stephen dabbled in baseball, basketball, and football, but when he saw a gymnastics exhibition at his high school, he knew he found something he’d love to do. Stephen went on to enjoy great success with gymnastics in high school and college. Stephen took up running shortly after he graduated college and was introduced to triathlons by a friend. He considers his successful transition from being a college athlete to someone with a healthy, active lifestyle as one of his greatest achievements. Having his father die from a massive heart attack at age 62, and seeing how his mother bravely lived with rheumatoid arthritis gave Stephen the motivation and the will to make this transition, which has yielded a life that he loves.

A c0mmon theme I see in the over 50 athletes I interview is that they successfully make the transition from podium to lifestyle. By this, I mean that they make the shift from being very focused on performance in their sports, to appreciating how it completes their life. This is not to say that many are not very focused on performance, but that they gain an appreciation for the pure joy of their sport and what it does for their health, etc. I’ve observed that many experience a decrease in performance, yet they accept this and focus on what else participation brings into their life. Many take up new sports or activities as a way to remain on the upward learning curve, while others do not.  I feel that the ability to successfully make this transition is what differentiates these athletes from most of us who stop participating in sports when we experience a slow down.

I’m super excited about the book celebration and 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge launch event I have this Saturday in Fort Collins, Colorado. I’ll hopefully have some cool stories to report in my blog next week.