Mike and Kim Hall

Journal Article on Mike and Kim Hall

This piece appeared in the Journal on June 3rd 2008, and is reproduced here by the kind permission of the Journal Editor, Brian Aitken.

Going for gold in the triathlon

Triathletes Kim and Mike Hall with some of their medals

Triathletes Kim and Mike Hall with some of their medals

Triathlon is the country’s fastest growing sport. Hannah Davies speaks to the region’s oldest competitor and his teammates to discover its allure.

“It’s nice going to competitions because you meet up with people in your age group in this country and around the world.”

Mike Hall, a retired Durham University lecturer, is explaining one of the many reasons why he loves taking part in triathlon competitions at the age of 78. And at 73 his wife Kim, a former primary school teacher, agrees and says she certainly won’t be stopping taking part in the competitions any time soon either. The couple have more energy than many people decades younger. And they attribute this to their continued love of the triathlon, a sport which involves set distances of running, swimming and cycling. Neither sees age as any reason why they should stop competing.

Mike says: “You can still do triathlons as you get older, you just get a bit slower. “There was one man who was doing them until he was well into his 80s, although I think he stopped a few years ago.”

Mike founded Durham’s Triathlon Club after his own mission to regain his lost fitness. He had run cross-country at school, university and in the Army, which had given him a taste for fitness. But, after leaving the Army Mike became an engineer and his work took him and wife Kim all over the world, which played havoc with their fitness regimes.

Mike recalls: “We both became very unfit in Thailand. The weather was too hot to exercise and both of us lost a lot of weight. We felt dreadful, so as soon as we returned to England it was a priority to get fit again.”

Mike and Kim, who have three children and five grandchildren, began running to try to regain their physiques and soon realised for all-over fitness cycling and swimming would give them the best workout. Mike ran his first triathlon in 1986 and began meeting other people who enjoyed triathlons as well. But without a Durham club — the nearest was Newcastle — there was no place for people to train together and help each other with moral support and motivation.

“A few of us had a talk about setting up a triathlon club in Durham,” Mike says. “There was nowhere else nearby we could do it, the nearest was Newcastle, so we thought why not set one up?”

At the beginning there were only eight members but this has steadily grown throughout the years and currently there are about 35 members. Mike and Kim still thoroughly enjoy taking part in triathlons, although they are giving the World Championships in Vancouver a miss this year as the flights are too expensive.

“And there are plenty of other events,” Kim says. “We’ll be taking part in the Strathclyde Triathlon in Glasgow this summer.”

Last year, Kim won the National Sprint Triathlon in Strathclyde, in the 70 to 74 age group, and she’s going for gold again in August. Mike came second in his age group, 75 to 79, in the National Duathlon Championship (cycling and running) this year, and he won it last year. In 2006 the couple won bronze medals in the age group at the World Triathlon Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mike says: “I can’t see any reason why I’d give them up any time soon. The thing which would worry me is stopping doing any exercise. That’s how you feel worse.”

Kim says: “We might be giving up the Olympic distances, though, as the swims are getting a bit much now. But it is just fun to do it and to keep on challenging yourself. Triathlons are fun rather than anything else, and of course it all makes you feel better.”

At the moment, the original article is on here on Journal Live.