Action County: John Swartz
If John Swartz had been born a Russian, he’d be a lock for the “Master of Sport” title. But void of an epithet, the 57-year-old Pennsylvania native will have to settle with being the fastest trail runner over 50 in western Colorado.Swartz’s dominance of his age group this summer in both the Nike Summit Trail Running Series and the Teva Trail Series in Vail has been complete – going into the final race at Vail he is undefeated. In fact, Swartz’s times would have consistently placed him in the top three in the 20-29 age group. “That’s part of the fun, to try to defy my age group limitations,” he said. “I don’t feel (my age) at all. I was over at Vail a couple of weeks ago and I was (third) overall out of 150 people. That makes it fun.”
Swartz says he feels as fit now as he has in a decade. Though his lifelong commitment to athletics has been constant, however, it’s hard to say in which sport he’s training at any given time.Swartz went from the captain of the Colorado College lacrosse team, to a racing cyclist in the early 70s, to a trail runner in the 80s, winning the Vail Hill Climb three times and repeatedly finishing in the top 10 at Pike’s Peak. A telemark-skiing knee injury turned him into an avid swimmer in the mid-90s. Swartz has tried golf, kayaking, rowing, racquetball, windsurfing, cross-country skiing and triathlons at one time or another.
“You get to a certain level, and for me it’s easier to maintain a level of fitness than to have off-seasons and on-seasons,” he said. “I just try to keep the aerobic base and shift it from sport to sport.”What do you do tell yourself when you don’t feel motivated?
“The motivation is the competitive event that I force myself to sign up for so I can have that looming over my head as a motivation to go train on a daily basis.” What is it about signing up for races that forces you to train?”It’s more a satisfaction in terms of self-discipline. The training is actually the fun part, the racing is incidental. If the training wasn’t fun I wouldn’t train just to race. Being out in the woods and the sunshine, or being out on snowshoes after a new snowfall … You’ve got to like the training if you’re going to play any sport.”
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