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Adding life to your years

On my 50th birthday my wife decided that I should have a bigger birthday celebration than for instance when I turned 46. Such a nice round number called for something special. Yes, we love to celebrate certain milestones in our lives. But to reach a certain age is basically just a next number, yet I am always grateful when the Lord has blessed me with another year.

42 Comrades Marathons

What seems to be an extra blessing is good health and a good quality of life that many people have as they grow older. The past week I read about the passing of Clive Crawley at the age of 89 years;

a remarkable man who ran 42 Comrades Marathons during his lifetime.

According to my calculation he must have been almost 70 when he ran the last one. Apparently the organisers of the Comrades Marathon gave them a special celebration when Crawley and his running friend of many years, Kenny Craig, both completed their 40th Comrades in 1998.

60 @ sixty & 70 @ seventy

What struck me most was his quality of life when he reached some of the “milestone” birthdays during his lifetime.

On Crawley’s 60th birthday they went for a 60km run.

Even more remarkable is that on his 70th birthday they did a 70km run. How would you celebrate your 60th or 70th birthday, should you be graced with that many years?

It seems to be worthwhile to exercise and keep your body fit because it can add life to your years. I think I could have done with much more exercise during my lifetime. As a writer, the ABC principle of writing (Apply Bottom to Chair), does not make for a very active lifestyle, so it is necessary for me to set aside time for exercise.

Keeping in shape

What do you do to keep your body in shape? Or are you like the overweight guy, when the doctor told him he should keep his body in shape, he answered that “this is the shape that I keep my body in.”

# Athletics as a yardstick

For many years, as a school teacher, I was involved with coaching middle distance athletes, therefore I still have a keen interest in people’s athletic achievements.

It is almost like “It shows you what can be done.”

Piet van Alphen

In my mind one of the most astonishing examples of quality of life at an older age, is that of Piet van Alphen of the Netherlands. Van Alphen, at the age of 55, ran a marathon in 2 hours 25 minutes and 56 seconds.

Now I know there are many factors that played a role in such an achievement and we are not all Piet van Alphen’s, but we can all learn something from him.

The grace of God

But physical fitness is not all there is to having good strength and quality of life in one’s later years. I believe the grace of God also plays a major role. The Bible teaches “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with a promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Eph 6:1-3)

One man whose strength was preserved because he obeyed God was Caleb. In Jos 14:10-11 he says “And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.”

Other remarkable older people were Abraham, whom God called at the age of 75 to move to another country where he became the father of a promised son at 100 years of age and Moses who was called at 80 to lead God’s people out of Egypt. God graced them with long life and used them in remarkable ways.

Maybe you will say there is more to a good life than that, and it is true, but let us serve God and try to keep fit.

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