This month’s community member highlight is Even “Griz” Evenson! At the age of 71 years old this local triathlete can teach us all a thing or two about longevity in the sport. In his 30 years of racing triathlons he has completed countless races, bounced back from serious injuries, and maintained an incredibly positive attitude through it all. Read on to discover more about this incredible local triathlete!
Q: How did you first get involved with endurance sports?
A: Gayle, my trophy wife of 46 years, joined a Faculty/Staff fitness group in 1988, which included doing the Albany sprint Tri. I joined in, just for the hell of it. I got my ass kicked, but immediately saw that this was a sport for me, as it is one that does not require genetic greatness, just the willingness to beat one’s brains out daily. And that I did, and at 71, still do...well, as much as my wrinkled body allows.
Q: What was your profession before you retired?
A: I have been retired for 16 years. I had a great field job working for the Forest Service, with my entire career being at the Alsea Ranger District.
Q: What are some favorite non-endurance sporting related hobbies that you have?
A: Not at a high skill level, but I enjoy playing guitar and piano, singing at a Senior citizens home, garden with Gayle, am endlessly repairing/working on our house, which we hand built over the course of 20 years (hence avoiding a crushing mortgage), socialize with non-triathletes, and Gayle and I travel 3-4 times a year to non-triathlon related events, including 10 days in Mexico each year. I love the triathlon lifestyle, but also turn it off when doing other activities.
Q: What are some favorite things you like to eat before a race? After a race?
A: After 30 years of racing full-Iron distance tri’s, Nutrition is still a mystery to me. Each year, it is a bit different, but I try to consume 600 easily digestive calories 3 hours before the gun goes off. After the race, I am usually nauseous, but am fortunate to have Gayle, who sets a hot bath for me and makes me some scrambled eggs.
Q: What’s your favorite leg of a triathlon?
A: My background is swimming. Since it only encompasses 10% of the race, it is not a big advantage, but still better than a kick in the ass. My favorite leg is the bike, where I tend to hold my own with my fellow geezers in most races. My weak link has always been my running, but I love running and continue to have aspirations of finding that well hidden, Secret Weapon. Yes, at 71, I better speed up that process a bit.
Q: Is there any saying, motto, mantra, or phrase you use to inspire you when the going gets tough?
A: My main motto is that I always want to tell myself at the starting line that I have done everything possible to be ready for the event. If I have done so, win/lose/or draw, I will be happy. I don’t really like to listen to people at the starting line with all of their pre-race excuses of why they will do poorly.
Coming back after a devastating accident
Even’s 30 year journey through endurance sports has not been without its rough patches. In 2002, during the bike portion of his race at a triathlon in Florida, he was hit by a pickup truck and fractured several lumbar vertebrae in his back. He spent 2 months in a wheelchair and 6 months in a back brace during his recovery. He still carries 3 permanent titanium rods in his back. Even’s love for the sport of triathlon survived an accident that could have taken his life. As soon as he was able, he was back on the bike training for more triathlons. We are inspired by his recovery and bravery coming back from a horrific accident to continue to pursue one of his passions.
Even has completed 23 Full-Iron distance Triathlon's 8 of which were at the World Championships in Kona.
This coming season Even would like to make it to Best in the West Triathlon Festival and plans on running the Corvallis Half-Marathon. We love to see his big smile and friendly wave out on the race course. If you see him out there, give him a “Go Griz Go!”