Name: Richard Gardner
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area. Went to Hiram College in Ohio and followed a relationship to Syracuse. That relationship ended but I’m still here 37 years later. I never really figured out what I wanted to do for a living but have been working in human services in one form or another since graduation.
How long have you been involved in Triathlon and what made you take it up?
In 1976 I joined the YMCA in downtown Syracuse. I ran on the track there and one day saw a poster for a marathon and 5 and 3/4 mile race in Liverpool. I ran my first road race in May (the 5 and 3/4 miles) and from there worked my way up to marathons which I did for a few years until overuse injuries caught up with me, so I could no longer do the training required of running marathons. Triathlons were just coming into being and I liked the idea of still being able to do something that might take a few hours but didn’t require as much running.
Who is your Hero?
I went to an alternative high school in Washington D.C started by a couple concerned with the public educational system. They struggled for years to keep the school economically viable but always maintained their idealism and integrity throughout. They are probably the people I admire most.
What is your athletic background?
I ran off and on, on my own throughout high school and college. After joining the YMCA (as mentioned above) I became more serious about working on my endurance while running. An article in Runner’s World taught me how to train for a marathon. I ran 7 marathons (3:21:36 PR Marine Corp Marathon, 1982) before injuries took their toll. I don’t know how many triathlons I’ve done since then, probably 2 to 4 a year.
I did my first Ironman in 2006 at age 54.
What are your Triathlon strengths and weaknesses?
When I started, running was my strength. Awhile later swimming and then biking became my relative strengths. As I approach my 60th birthday everything seems like a weakness.
What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most?
There used to be a relay race at Long Branch Park called “The Incredible Journey”. It was a run, bike, canoe format. I think it was 1981 when some friends asked me if I would be their runner. After participating on teams a few times I decided to try it by myself. I think that was my first triathlon although I also participated in the YMCA Triathlon (now held at Green Lakes) when it was held at Onondaga Community College. The swim was held in the pool so only 16 swimmers could start at a time. Waves started every half hour for three or four (or more?) hours. The bike leg was five miles and involved riding around the perimeter of the campus three times. The 2 mile run was a convoluted course on campus.
What is your favorite race and why?
I’ve done the Tupper Lake Tinman 7 or 8 times. I enjoy the course, it’s always a well run race, and it’s nice to spend a few days in the Adirondacks.
What was your worst race and why?
I got two flat tires during the 2nd running of the Musselman. I was ready to quit after the 2nd flat but a friend came by on a motorcycle, helped me out, and encouraged me to finish.
What are this year’s goals?
I’m a little up in the air here. Two years ago I had my aortic valve and upper aorta replaced. I thought I was good to go for any racing I wanted to do but this past Fall my cardiologist told me he wanted me to exercise at more “reasonable” levels meaning nothing longer than sprint triathlons. I’ve been in the process of getting 2nd and 3rd opinions since then. Hopefully, I’ll get the go ahead to do something more in which case I’d like to do a couple more sprints and maybe Musselman again.
In five years you hope to … : be retired and freed up to travel and pursue other interests I haven’t had time for.
Something most people don’t know about you:
My picture once appeared in Penthouse Magazine. (Ask me about it, it’s not what you’d think.)