Fighting fit

Smithton’s Ken Williams has clocked up thousands of kilometres – on foot and bike – over his 29-year athletic career. Picture: Bodey Dittloff. 

Health. For the last 29 years, Smithton’s Ken Williams has been competitively riding or running at every given opportunity.

And with his 75th birthday coming up in October, he has no plans on slowing down.

“I don’t usually race in overalls though,” he joked as his photo was being taken, vigorously working away to fix a chainsaw part in his workshop.

Williams is a Coastal Senior Cycling Club regular and Professional Cross Country Club of Tasmania life member, tallying up an impressive racing record over the past three decades.

His resume includes: 625 PCCCT races, 18 King Island Imperials (the only coast-to-coast race in Australia), 13 climbs of Hobart’s Mt Wellington in the Point2Pinnacle (the ‘world’s toughest half-marathon’) and a runner in every Burnie Ten since its inception in 1985.

But the 74-year-old will be the first to admit he flies under the radar: “Most people around here don’t know I do it, I try to keep a low profile.”

A former electrician for 57 years, Williams didn’t become involved in competitive circuits until 1985 after being invited to race in the PCCCT’s 8km Green Hills event in Stanley.

“From then on, I just carried on,” he said. “The racing is in your blood – you get addicted to it.”

While admitting “the first three to six months” was the hardest period to get used to, Williams’ current training regime will see him average 50 to 60 kilometres on foot or 200 kilometres on the bike every week.

He also said times have changed for runners over the years, with an average of 100 male and female participants every race enjoying the social and health aspects of competing regularly.

“When I first took up running in ‘85, people would try and run you off the road,” he said.

“There’s much more acceptance now, and it pleases me to see a lot more people out there doing something.”

With a smooth transition from the riding season – completed earlier this month – into the beginning of the PCCCT season in March, Williams’ passion for racing keeps him focused all year round.

“I just like it, I enjoy being fit,” he said. “It doesn’t matter: rain, hail or shine, you turn up.

“I lost half a dozen mates in their 50s and 60s through heart attacks. . . It’s quality of life over quantity of life.”

The oldest competitor in the PCCCT, Williams has already enjoyed a strong start to his 2014 season, taking out the Don 7km handicap on April 6 and finishing second in previous weekend’s 7km race in Heybridge.

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