Penny Kristiansen rode three road bicycle races in her low tech

Penny one of many from Sooke who participate in the BC Seniors Games

Sooke was well represented at the BC Seniors Games.

Sooke is home to some incredible beginnings. And contrary to popular rote, beginnings are not always preserved for the young. It’s also there for the the young at heart.

Take for instance Penny Kristiansen. While one never divulges the age of a lady, we can say she is between the ages of 65 and 69. When Kristiansen’s husband died in 2008, she started cycling.

“I only started cycling at age 65,” said Kristiansen. “Really, I’ve only been doing it a few years.

Maybe her athletic high school years enabled her to take to the sport so quickly, maybe it was her good health overall, maybe it was her experience sky-diving or deep-sea diving. Whatever it was, since she found her way onto the bicycle, she has been cycling up a storm.

With a sister in Kamloops, and aware of the 2013 Kamloop BC Seniors Games, Kristiansen decided to enter. The event was held on August 20-24, with the Road Cycling event on August 21 – 23, and her racing category was the women’s category, ages 65 to 69. In total, there were 25 different sports in which BC residents aged 55+ could compete. According to the bcseniorsgames.org website, over 3,500 seniors compete, and the event is managed by 1,200 volunteers.

Since it was her first year in the games, she was entered into the Novice category. As a metal winner, should she return for next year’s games, she will be upgraded into the Competitive category.

Her sport of choice was Road Cycling, which entitled three separate events in three consecutive days. First came the Time Trial, which was a single 14 km loop. With a time of 39:02:23, Kristiansen earned a Silver. Next up was the Road Race, which was a distance of 42 km, done in three loops. There, her time of 2:04:07 earned her another Silver. And lastly was a staggering Hill Climb, where a steeply graded hill (between 6 to 9 per cent grades) is tackled for a relentless 2.7 km. Her time of 18:20.95 earned her the Gold.

“That’s what I really got the gold for,” Kristiansen reflects, “showing up.”

Her adventurous, forward-propelling attitude is best summed up by a comment she made when her photo was being taken for this article.

“You just go where life takes you.” And life certainly has taken her places: Kristiansen has jumped out of planes, has over 400 dives, has her pilots licence, and worked in Saudi Arabia for 11 years.

Kristiansen was not the only Sooke resident who competed in these games. Special mention goes out to all the participants for modelling an active lifestyle, including:

  • Robert Coldwell, who received a Gold in Golf (Men 60-64, 20.0 Index)
  • Malcolm Campbell, who received a Bronze in Golf (Men 60-64, Low Gross ‘A’)
  • Bill Wilson, who received a Bronze in Golf (Men 70-74, Low Gross ‘A’)
  • Tom Bligh, who received a Gold in Horshoes (Men 65+, Class D – 15 to 24.9 percent)
  • Leanor Davidson, who received a Gold in Track and Field (Women, 65-69, 100 Metres)

Hats off to the other Sooke seniors who also attended, including Faye Bligh (Darts), Linda Campbell (Golf), Tom Bligh(Horseshoes), Shirley Sheldrake (Ice Curling), and Henry Heggelund (Soccer).

The 2014 BC Seniors Games will be held in Langley from September 9 to 13, 2014. The 2015 BC Seniors Games will be held in North Vancouver from August 25 to 29, 2015. The 2016 BC Seniors Games will be held in Coquitlam from August 23 to 27, 2016.

More information is available at the BCSeniorsGames.org/ website.