Everett Penrod’s vocabulary lacks the phrase “slow down” or any similar phrases like “take it easy,” “don’t get in a
hurry,” or “dawdle on over here.”
“I haven’t figured out how to do that, yet,” he said.
Penrod, 96, competed October 3-15 in the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, where he won four gold medals and set two new world records in the 50 and 100 meter sprints in the 95-99 age category.
“There were several 95 and older people competing, but that was in things like horseshoes and other stuff,” he said. “They had me racing with the upper 80 and younger 90 year olds.”
Penrod, an ordained Nazarene minister and retired military chaplain, has competed in the games since its inception 25 years ago. And he competed in other senior competitions before then for a total of 35 years.
He was sidelined for five years after suffering injuries and undergoing hip and knee replacement surgery and his track career almost came to an end when he suffered a head injury in a car wreck.
At 85, Penrod suffered a subdural hemotoma – blood collected on the brain surface – in the crash, and doctors decided not to operate due to his age. They told him he would face partial paralysis on the right side of his body.
Penrod’s daughter convinced the doctors to perform the surgery because of his excellent physical condition. Although he faced an uphill battle and other physical setbacks in the last 10 years, Penrod got back on the track in 2010.
The Huntsman World Senior Games began as the World Senior Games, an international senior sports competition, in 1987. The named changed after Jon M. Huntsman Sr., chairman of the Huntsman Corporation in Utah, became the games’ principal sponsor.
More than 10,000 seniors from 71 countries competed in the 2011 games.
“I don’t train a whole lot,” Penrod said. “I try to stay healthy and eat right.”
He goes to a local spa about once a week to work out, and about a month before competition, he’ll go to the spa two to three times a week.
This year, Penrod broke his own record set in 2010 of 17.9 seconds in the 50 meters by .65 seconds. Although he set a record in the 100 meters this year, it was a difficult race.
“The finish line seemed like a long way off,” he said.
By the time the 100-meter race began, a strong wind blew in the face of competitors, making it difficult to race let alone think about setting a record.
“Usually when a competitor sets a record, the judges will test you for steroid use,” Penrod said. “When I finished the race and set a record, the judges didn’t test me.”
Penrod asked the judges about the lack of testing.
“They said at my age I needed steroids,” he said.
Penrod, and his titanium hip, ran the heat in 46.53 seconds. He will place his four gold medals with the 200 gold medals and a countless number of silver and bronzes hanging in his closet.
Competing in the games falls somewhere in between Penrod writing his 13th biblical novel, The Gideon Factor, and teaching a Bible class at Sun City Church of the Nazarene in Sun City, Arizona.
Service to others, his country, and the Church is an integral part of Penrod’s life.
Penrod was ordained in 1942 and entered the U.S. Army Chaplaincy. He survived the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, and continued to serve in Army the remainder of World War II.
When he returned home, he pastored a Nazarene church for three years in Redlands, California, before the military recalled him to duty as an Air Force chaplain in the Korean War. He later served in the Vietnam War, and after his tour of duty, he retired from the military as a colonel.
He wrote several adventure and western novels before setting his sights on authoring biblically-related works. He’s also a licensed pilot and has spent his life flying, buying, and selling planes.
“I’ve been a pilot all my life,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite hobbies.”
And Penrod plans to keep busy whether it’s in a cockpit or typing a novel on his word processor or competing in the World Senior Games.
“I’ll keep running, even in the 100, if the wind isn’t too strong,” he said. — Nazarene Communications Network