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Marathoner goes the Olympic distance on two apples a day

September 2011

Morris (Moe) Shore has a two-apple-a-day habit and he’s proud of it.

That’s the easy part of what the 75-year-old retired accountant and financial planner does to stay lean, fit and active. He bikes, he runs, he swims, and performs so well for his age that he is now in Beijing to compete in the ITU World Triathlon Championship, in the 75-80 age category.

Thousands of elite and age-group athletes, including those with a disability, are participating in the event from September 7-11, including 140 Canadians.

When we met Shore recently he was sitting on the 24 bus, munching, you guessed it, on a crisp apple.

Though Shore played basketball and football at the old Strathcona Academy in Outremont, when he entered McGill University he cut out physical activity to concentrate on his studies.

For the next 20 years, with the pressures of marriage, raising his two children, and building a career, Shore recalled he did nothing to keep in shape. All that changed in the early 1970s when a friend brought him to the YM-YWHA on Westbury for an exercise class. That morphed into running inside, then outside as he joined the Wolf Pack.

“I started off slowly. My first runs were 30 minutes, then five kilometres, then 10, then 20. “It was fun. You get outside in the fresh air.”

Bad weather does not deter Shore and fellow jogging enthusiasts.

“It’s like davenning (Yiddish for daily prayers)—you just do it every day. I ran with my dogs, cocker spaniels. They’re agile, good runners.”

“I lived on The Boulevard. I’d run up the mountain,” Morris Shore says.

Running became part of his daily routine, first in Chomedey where he lived, then in Westmount.

“I lived on The Boulevard. I’d run up the mountain. I ran with guys in the neighbourhood. They’d call me up and say, ‘What time are you running today?’”

He prefers to run with friends and he’s discovered it’s not hard to find this kind of companionship: “If you want to run, you can find guys to run with.”

Once you get to 20k, it’s time for something more challenging. Shore likens the next stage to “graduating high school.”

“Your next stage is a marathon – 42 kilometres, or 26 miles, 385 yards, to be exact.”

“I started doing marathons in the early 1980s, when I was about 45. I did five marathons over three years. To keep in shape, I used to run 60 miles a week, six days a week.”

This kind of regimen does put stress on the body, typically the knees. “I developed a stress fracture in my right knee and the doctor told me to take six months off. I started cross-training with bikes.”

That was the beginning of his expanded training, including swimming, which led to his competing in 60 triathlons, starting in 1991.

“A friend of mine took me to Marinoni (the specialty bicycle manufacturer) in Lachenaie and they made a frame for me. A good rider has a bike made to measure. A triathlon bike is different from other bikes. You are positioned so your pedals work efficiently, so you’re not as tired when you get off the bike.

“The ideal way to complete a track run is never stop pedaling, with your hands in front of you on tribars. I have one Marinoni and one Guru bike.” Shore biked and ran from 1982 to 1990. Then after he separated from his wife and had more time on his hands, a friend suggested he should prepare to compete in triathlons.

“I went to the Y—couldn’t swim four laps. I took a few lessons, started doing more laps in the winter of 1991 and six months later I entered the Montreal Triathlon.

“I came third—of course, there were only three competing—in the 55-to-59-year-old category.”

For most of us, the challenge would be formidable: He goes the so-called Olympic distance, swimming 1.5 kilometres, biking 40 kilometres and running 10 kilometres. (There is a also a sprint category, covering half the distance, in which Montrealer Sid Ingerman, 82, will be competing in Beijing in the over-80 group.)

Shore finished his first triathlon in two hours, 51 minutes. He got hooked and sought out other triathlon opportunities, including one in Cleveland, the world championship in Vancouver in 2008 where he qualified for the Canadian team in the 70-75 cohort, and the Maccabia Games in Tiberias, Israel, in 2009.

“There were 29 in my category in Vancouver, and I came 26th—one of the few times I didn’t win a medal (for finishing in the top three, based on time).”

He laughs that “in one or two” competitions where he did win a medal, there were more than three in the race in his age category.

Because of shin splints and muscle soreness, Shore no longer bounds through the street like a hurricane. He does what he calls “a shuffle, a fast walk” and hopes to get back soon to full running form.

We had to ask: What makes Morris run?

“It’s enjoyable, it makes me feel good. It’s nice to run at Beaver Lake, you listen to the birds, you see the ducks swimming. After 10 minutes, you get into gear and then you’re running effortlessly.”

Since Shore wants to avoid further damage to his knees and legs, he limits his running to one day a week, with more than an hour in the pool. “I’m pacing myself. When I run, I do 10-12 klicks.”

His advice to those of us who do no physical exercise: “Get rid of your car, walk and climb stairs whenever you can.

“I go to stretch classes at lunchtime at the Y. It’s called the Lunch Bunch. It’s all older people, and some have been doing it for years. There are a lot of women too, some in their ‘80s, and they’re in great shape.

“If you want to lose weight, it’s simple: eat less, exercise more.”

Apart from his competition bikes, Shore uses the city’s Bixi bikes, which have a yearly membership fee of $78. The first 45 minutes of each ride are free.

“I’m on the Bixi three or four times a day. It’s a great way to get somewhere fast, and to cool off in the breeze.”

Shore is using his commitment to compete in the triathlon as a peg to raise funds for the Y. In appealing for contributions, he said: “The Y has for many years been my training facility. If not for their excellent facilities, programs, instructors and encouragement I would not be where I am today.”

When we spoke, about 180 people had supported his appeal and contributed $21,000. He also got major institutions, like McGill University, and such businesses as Bombardier to put their logos on his uniform. “One or two have agreed to help sponsor my trip.”

The trip, registration and accommodation will cost Shore more than $3,000, so he’s hoping to get backing for another triathlon, next year in Spain.

“It’s never too late to start. Start easy. Walk, then run. You’re going to feel better.”

He recalled the quote from U.S. entrepreneur Samuel Ullman, displayed at the Y: “Youth is not a time in life, it is a state of mind.”



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