They are athletes too, although they are not concerned with multiyear contracts, product endorsements or national fame. They will never see their performances on videotape replays, nor hear the roar of the crowds when they achieve something special, except perhaps inside their heads. And yet they are out there, often alone, sometimes uncomfortable, working their bodies, pushing themselves to personal goals dictated from within. And for what? Physical fitness, of course, but surely there is something more. They run, they swim, they climb—it doesn't matter exactly what. What does matter is that they do, and having done, they are pleased and proud.
If it's a challenge you're looking for, try San Francisco for your next workout. With Russian Hill in the background, a young woman battles her way up Lombard Street in the early morning.
Bucky Cox, of Lawrence, Kansas, became the unofficial world-record holder in the marathon for 5-year-olds, going the route in 5:25.09. Bucky does six miles a day, usually before school, in his case the first grade. "Running makes me lose my mind," he says.
In Dallas, some businessmen have found that one good way to avoid the three-martini lunch is to go to the Downtown YMCA at noon and run a few laps on the track. And where is this track? On the roof of the building, slightly banked, with 21 laps to the mile.
In the heart of New York's Central Park is the Reservoir, whose one billion gallons of water supply part of the city. The cinder path that surrounds the Reservoir provides joggers with a 1.5-mile track that offers a splendid view of the skyline and a traffic-free training ground.
Several times a week the Stuarts of Atlanta—Bill, Joy and the kids—go jogging together, sometimes for as many as four miles. Stuart, a neurologist, believes running helps develop self-control. "Most runners are quiet people," he says. "You are forced into your own mind."
Lynn Miller, of Indianapolis and Wellesley College, has been backpacking most of her 21 years. She has studied monkeys in the Peruvian jungle and has gone through a five-day survival course in Wyoming. "It really builds your confidence," she says.
While raising eight children, Mathilde (Mimi) Lee, wife of the acting governor of Maryland, has also kept in the swim. In a state Masters meet, she did the 50-yard breast stroke in 48.47, fifth best in the country for women in the 55-59 age group.
The University of Washington's Climbing Club can pursue its sport right on campus, thanks to a 32-foot "mountain," built for $41,500 in 1976. Happily, the more difficult handholds and crevices are near the ground.
Sylvia Mazique of Houston has been playing tennis for more than 20 years and is now trying to pass her love of the game on to her children. Mark and Kicha (nearest Sylvia) take lessons at Newk's Tennis Club; Marlon has just begun in earnest.
There goes Harry Rutten, 45, the president of the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey, whose membership ranges in age from 12 to 70. Rutten is a good one for the road. "I average 5,000 miles a year," he says. "It's a great way to keep in shape."
What do Nordic skiers do when there is no snow on the ground? Mark Lahtinen, a biologist who works for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, circles Lake of the Isles on regular skis with roller-skate wheels attached.
These California girls belong to the American Youth Soccer Organization, which includes 250,000 youngsters. One thing that makes AYSO so popular is that everyone who Joins gets to play at least half of every game.
George Smith is a Denver real-estate man, but much of the real estate he and his four sons cover is vertical. Only 20 people have succeeded in climbing every peak over 14,000 feet in the U.S.; five of them are Smiths.