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THE CONCH MAN

Remar Sutton
Column: STYLE PLUS;FIT OVER 40
November 22, 1988; Page e5

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND -- Last January, a lot of nonathletes in Washington, D.C., started their day with an extra 15-minute walk that led last Saturday to a 1-mile swim, 10-mile bike ride and 4-mile run, and to the Conch Outs celebration here. You might like to read a few of the written thoughts they left behind:

"So, anyway, I walked that {first} morning ... now, I'm sitting here beachside on Grand Bahama, 25 pounds lighter, 8 inches smaller, having kissed off cigarettes. Not only am I a triathlete and more fit, but I realize that if I could handle the water yesterday, I can handle anybody, anything, anytime."

"The challenge of Conch training kept me focused on a real self-fulfilling goal and summer and fall. Excellent excuse not to drink, excellent way to fight weekend and evening funks! I love it. 'I'm in training; none for me!' Or 'I'm doing a triathlon ... in the Bahamas!' "

"When I received my medal the night of the events {everyone who finished received one}, I was the proudest I have ever been in my life!"

{An asthmatic lady whose family had began to preface their sentences to her with, "Now that you are an invalid ... "} "I realized that I had let my disease become myself. I started training in the water. By October I was able to swim a mile and bike 6. Today, I finished all three events. As I walked across the finish line, I said to myself 'I am not an invalid.' "

{A cancer victim} "There may be a lot of reasons I'm alive today, but no one can tell me this event had nothing to do with it. What a way to begin -- the rest of my life!"

"Eight months ago I was in a Virginia bar chowing down greasy food. Today, I'm on Grand Bahama Island -- swimming, scuba diving, playing with the dolphins, and eating conch. It doesn't get any better than this!"

"Training for two over-40 ladies was a laugh. Imagine the courage it took for us to venture out in our bike shorts. How about all the snickers from family and friends as we dropped our housewifely responsibilities to bike, swim, run? We persevered."

"And to think I had accepted middle age as a downhill road. No more! Onward to the next Conch Man! I'm ready! And wait till you see my limbo next year!

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