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Couple from Chico are stars in over-70 running events

  • Frank Condon, 72-years-old, runs in the 1600-meter race during the Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games at Healdsburg High School in Healdsburg, Calif., on June 1, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

For a moment there in 2006, Frank Condon forgot who he was, what he represented, what he was trying to teach. And in the process he humiliated himself.

At the National Senior Games Championship in Boise, Idaho, Condon, then 64, approached Frank Levine, 82. Levine had just competed in the 80-and-over mile. In the course of telling Levine how he remembered him in 1964 when they both were on the track at Villanova University, Condon asked a simple question he regretted.

"So how did you get here?" Condon asked. He was acknowledging age bias. After all, when purchasing alcohol, Levine hadn't been asked to show his I.D. in over a half century.

Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games 6.01.13

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"Well," began Levine, a retired tax attorney, "I woke up yesterday morning in Philadelphia and got out of my bed, went to my shower, cleaned myself, put on my clothes, drove my car to the airport, got on my airplane, rented my car in Boise and checked in to my hotel room.

"How da hell did you get here?" Levine said tersely to Condon.

Condon turned 30 shades of hot pink and painfully got the message: "He didn't want me treating him like an old man. I was so embarrassed."

Embarrassed because he not only knew better, Condon had felt and still feels to this day the sting of a dismissive glance at his white hair. As if somehow that color immediately exposes him as ancient history, a story already told, a life already lived.

Oh, how such a stereotype would be destroyed if a simple question was asked.

"Frank, are you active?"

Condon, who competed in the Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games this past weekend, would control an impulse to scream ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Condon holds three age-group world track records, a 5:11.44 for the indoor mile in the 65-69 bracket, a 2:17 in the 800 meters for the same age group, and the fastest time ever run by a 68-year-old in the 800 meters, 2:18.


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