Senior games get off to wet start, continue today

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Salisbury-Rowan Senior Games started off with buckets of morning rain, as the day’s events were postponed for a week.

The first day of senior games events was Tuesday with discus, long jumps, 5K race walk and several other events on the schedule. The rain began at almost the same time as senior games’ events, but didn’t phase participants. One participant called the wet weather refreshing. Event Coordinator Phyllis Loflin-Kluttz, however, said she decided to call off the days’ events for the safety of participants.

All uncompleted events would be rescheduled to Thursday, April 23 at 10 a.m., Loflin-Kluttz said.

The only completed event was a 5K walk. Some senior games competitors were also able to participate in shotput and discus events before the day was rescheduled.

Rain or shine, the senior games will continue at 1 p.m. today with bowling at Woodleaf Lanes. Croquet will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in Ellis Park. Bocce ball rounds out the first week of the senior games on Saturday in Ellis Park at 9 a.m.

One of the new events that’s been added for the 2015 games is pickleball, which will be on May 6 at Hall’s Gym. Loflin-Kluttz said the budding sport is quickly increasing in popularity and should draw a fair number of participants.

“Pickleball is basically a cross between badminton and tennis,” Loflin-Kluttz said.”Those that played tennis in their younger years really can play pickleball and enjoy it. It’s highly competitive and your hits are the same, but you’re not running as much because it’s a smaller court.”

The minimum age to participate in the senior games is 50 and participants are judged based on a pre-designated five-year age range. For seniors, Loflin-Kluttz said exercise is invaluable.

“The one thing that I enjoy most about the games is the participants; they’re like my family,” she said. “I get to watch them overcome high blood pressure, high cholesterol and I’ve watched numerous battles with cancer they’ve overcome because of exercise. It’s amazed me that even in our 60s, 70s and 80s, we’re still as competitive as we were when we were 15, 18 and 20.”

Jim Epperson was one of the competitors during the 5K walk. The rain didn’t bother him much, Epperson said.

“It probably slowed my time down, but other than that I loved it,” Epperson joked. “It feels good. I’d prefer that any day to 95 degree temperatures and sun.”

Epperson is no rookie. In previous years, he placed well enough to qualify for the state senior games. In the 5K race on Tuesday he finished first, several seconds in front of his closest competitor — perhaps a result of his expert speed walking technique, which requires that one foot touch the ground at all times.

“You’ve got to loosen the hips and, if you’re doing it right, one foot is basically in front of the other,” Epperson said as he demonstrated his technique. “Your hips propel you forward. It’s like a train.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.