Colin Bolton, 74, eased his walker toward Hercules Field, April 19, alongside his wife, Barbara, 69.
The two Cumberland County residents were participating in field events at this year’s Mid-Carolina Senior Games, held annually to promote wellness and health for participants aged 50 and older.
Colton has participated since 2008. Because of health issues, he now forgoes running and swimming for the 1-mile fun walk, he said. Barbara competes in bocce ball, table tennis, croquet and sewing, among others.
The two enjoy the games.
“I like competition. I found out I have a competitive streak,” Barbara said.
Ronald Avery, 73, showed up at the games with his own warm-up equipment — gloves, shot put and discus.
“When you’re old, you can’t just step out there and throw. You have to warm up a little bit,” he said. “I don’t want to damage this body. I don’t want to shock it too much,” said Avery.
Along with shot put and discus, he was competing in basketball and football throw, but said he had given up “the jumps” because he needs a knee replacement.
No matter, the senior games seem to be a must.
“It keeps you motivated if you’re interested in fitness,” said Avery, a retired high school athletic director.
Kent Jeffries, 61, said he watched YouTube videos to get the basic form right for shot put competition.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever done that. I needed to learn how to do it right,” he said.
Martha Maynard, 92, Janice Lucas, 69, Evelyn Cheek, 59, and husband-wife team, Jesse and Bessie Jones, 71 and 70 respectively awaited their turn at the shot put dugout.
Maynard, who has competed for 25 years, said she likes “everything” about the games.
“I love all of it. I just enjoy it,” she said.
Jesse has been competing for 12 years and said he has often tried to encourage his wife to join.
“This is my first time,” Bessie said. “I love it. I think it was excellent and I should have been here years ago.”
For some seniors, the games offered camaraderie.
Willie Martin, 81, and J. T. Mercado, 60, are both jumpmasters who retired from the 82nd Airborne Division.
“I like the friendship. You meet all kinds of people out here,” said Martin.
The games offer more of a reward than seniors seem to fathom.
“We came out here to win medals, but that’s not the whole thing,” Lucas said. “The thing is to come out here, have fun and surprise yourself with a medal.”
Seniors who medal at the MCSG qualify for the North Carolina Senior Games State Finals, held each fall in Raleigh, North Carolina, and for the Senior Olympics, held every two years.
For more information about the Mid-Carolina Senior Games, visit www.mccog.org/aging_seniorgames.asp or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mid-Carolina-Senior--Games/142817339134751.