Brookings resident Marianne Anderson Padilla intently focused on keeping one foot on the ground at all times and keeping form while racewalking 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters in October at the 2012 Huntsman World Senior Games.
Her efforts paid off: shortly after completing the 5,000, Padilla, 62, was informed that she had won the bronze medal in her age division, 60-64.
“You have got to be kidding me! I was shocked,” Padilla said. “I had just wanted to finish.”
The Huntsman Senior Games are an international senior sports competition in St. George, Utah that includes more than 35 athletic events such as badminton, cycling, power walking and tennis, according to its website. The games are for people ages 50 and older. There is a small fee for each event.
Padilla participated in honor of her beloved Aunt Lois Anderson who passed away in January.
While visiting Anderson, who was terminally ill, in October, 2011, Padilla learned – much to her surprise – that Anderson had participated in the games for 18 years.
“She said when she retired she was looking for something to occupy her time,” Padilla said. “She saw an ad on TV (and) she just randomly picked racewalking.”
From age 62 to 80 Anderson traveled to the games and racewalked every year. She first won a number of bronze medals, then silver, and in her last race, gold. A year after her last race, Anderson was inducted into the Huntsman Senior Games Hall of Fame.
“So without even thinking, I said ‘Well Auntie, I’m going to beat the pants out of your record,’” Padilla said.
For a few months, Padilla left it at that.
Then in February she realized she had no clue how to racewalk. So she Googled racewalking, found a woman in Portland, Judy Heller, who could teach her and attended a retreat in May to learn.
But then life got in the way, and Padilla couldn’t train; she only walked the track four times before it was October.
However, she was still determined to go.
So Padilla lined up on race day with adrenaline running through her veins. Before she knew it, she was off.
“You’re competing against the clock and yourself. You’re trying to give it your best every second,” Padilla said.
Along the way, her family cheered her on. She also thought of her aunt.
“I’m going and getting tired. I just said ‘Auntie Lois, help me,’” Padilla said. “And I really feel she did it. There’s no other answer.”
With only a handful walks under her belt, Padilla had done it: she racewalked a total of 4 miles over the course of two days.
“I’m one down and 18 or 19 (more) to go,” Padilla said. “It’s all about her. I just want to be like her. Follow in her footsteps.”
In addition to keeping her word to her aunt, Padilla enjoyed the games as a whole.
She liked meeting people from all over the world, the camaraderie and friendships that were developed, the opening ceremonies and watching the other events. Padilla encourages other Brookings-Harbor residents to consider attending.
Now that she has participated in one Huntsman Games, she can’t wait to go back again.
“It’s an incredibly legacy that my aunt has left me,” Padilla said. “It’s something to look forward to. It keeps me going.”