Read about the recent climb of one of our great senior athletes, Michael Day.
Trekking to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is a worthy Bucket List item. At 19,341 feet Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, the highest free-standing mountain in the world, and since no technical mountain climbing is required its summit is accessible to nearly everyone. Yet each year less than 50% of the approximately 35,000 people who attempt to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro are successful; a few weeks ago, I joined the success group.
At age 71 I was quite likely the oldest climber on the mountain but age need not be a significant barrier to success in reaching the roof of Africa. What is required is proper boots and clothing, an appreciation for the effect of high altitude on the human body (and the willingness to hike slowly enough to minimize these effects), overall physical fitness, and a positive attitude (the ability to maintain focus and dig deep when the mind questions the overall value of what you’re doing). For me, these final two requirements were greatly enhanced after discovering CrossFit 7220. In the three months leading up to the Kilimanjaro trek I both ran (5-6 times a week often above 8500ft) and attended CrossFit workouts.
Generally, I've stayed physically active throughout life. Ran the first of 22 marathons when in my mid-thirties and the last five years ago; also enjoy hiking and spending multiple days backcountry and backpacking in our national parks. But like many people there were periods in my life when exercise and activity were more or less a priority: more when training for a specific event, less when I was not and being lazy. Then at sixty-seven I attended my first CrossFit 7220 class; I’ve been a fairly regular attendee ever since --two to three days a week. I fully appreciate my successful experience on Mount Kilimanjaro was in large part due to participation in CrossFit 7220 workouts (especially those intended primarily for seniors).
The functional fitness philosophy of CrossFit 7220 complemented nicely the physical demands of a successful summit: overall strength, agility, balance, and endurance. Indeed, functional fitness need not decline with aging as my experience on Mount Kilimanjaro illustrates, a growing body of research supports, and as recognized by CrossFit programs internationally. Clearly, of my four trekking companions (ages 22 to 61) I was the most physically fit for the demands of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and in large part I have CrossFit 7220 to thank. I’m planning a return trip to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro when I turn 74, climbing a different and more challenging route, and continuing participation in CrossFit 7220 for many years to come.