Nanoose Bay resident Terry Riggins is 71 years old and will turn 72 next month. But he continues to compete at a high level in long-distance running.
At the recent TC 10K, which had close to 10,000 runners from across Canada and other parts of the world, Riggins finished first in the 71-74 age group in a time of 46 minutes and 51 seconds. There were 83 entries in his age group. Riggins said it wasn’t his best time as he had run this distance in 42:52 four years ago.
“I am slowing down, so is my competition,” Riggins quipped. “The older you get, you start thinking about your age group.”
Riggins loves to run. Nothing stops him from doing it. Even when he’s on a holiday, Riggins says he finds time to run and also take part in a race if one is being held where he’s going.
The local athlete started running when he retired at the age of 59 and he got deeply hooked on it.
“I have never run before even when I was in high school,” said Riggins. “I didn’t know I could run. When I retired, friends of mine who have been running for a long time decided to run a marathon and I went down to Victoria to watch them. And I got interested. I wanted to run a marathon too, so I started training.”
The first race Riggins entered was half-marathon and it didn’t take long for him to compete in a full marathon. Riggins said for a new runner, he realized he had the potential to excel. He joined the Oceanside Running Club Association and got some training from club’s coaches. Since then, Riggins has run more than 80 races and the equivalent to more than 900 kilometres of race distance.
Riggins has participated in three marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2013 when the bombing nightmare occurred. He has been consistently taking part in the Vancouver Island Race Series and other track events. He is also a member of the Nanaimo Track and Field Club and is preparing to compete in the 1,500 metres. He has won this distance at the Americas Masters Games in Vancouver in 2016 with a time of 5:45.
“I have been busy,” said Riggins. “I love competing. If I go in a race, that’s awesome. I don’t need to win but I want to win.”
Of all the races he’s been in, Riggins singled his performance at the Bazan Bay 5K in 2013 as his most memorable one. He covered the distance in 19:54 in the 65-69 age group. The time remains a B.C. record in the category.
When Riggins is preparing for a race, he said he trains five times a week. But if it’s just for health, Riggins runs twice per week. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, for Riggins, any day is a good day for a run.
“I just enjoy it,” said Riggins. “It doesn’t matter if I am by myself. I don’t need music. I don’t need anything. It’s just me out there just running. I just focus on different parts of my body where my feet are landing, how my arms swing is doing and my form. When I am in a race I don’t see anything except the person in front of me that I am trying to pass.”
Riggins’s passion to compete is what motivating him to continue to train hard regardless of his age.
“Staying healthy is one of the reasons but I just love to win races,” said Riggins. “That’s why I run.”