No competitor in Saturday’s Ironman 70.3 Boise took longer to exit the finish line than Lew Hollander.
At 85 years old, Hollander was the oldest competitor in Saturday’s half-Ironman race and the only one in his age group, 85-89. So before he could exit the finish line, Hollander stopped to shake countless hands and pose for multiple photos, including several with the paramedics on hand for the race.
“I wonder why. My only claim to fame is I got old and I’m still functioning,” Hollander joked.
Hollander picked up triathlon racing at 55 after an already accomplished athletic career that included an election to the hall of fame for endurance horse riding. He then completed the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run at 54.
“After that, I figured I could do anything,” he said.
Triathlon training fits into Hollander’s scientific outlook on life. At 12 years old, he went to the library to find out which occupations lived the longest. At the top of the list — physicists. So he became a physicist, starting in nuclear physics before moving to semiconductors and, now, nanotechnology.
He owns multiple patents and wrote a science fiction book titled, “And Chocolate Shall Lead Us,” because, “I figured every scientist should write a sci-fi book.”
That same scientific outlook keeps the Redmond, Ore., resident motivated to train for triathlons to reach his ultimate goal, living to 120, possibly longer with the advancement of stem cells.
“Life is you either use it or lose it,” he said. “I don’t want to lose it. So I use it. It’s that simple.
“My alternative is I could wind up in a rest home. That’s no fun. You ever been to one of those places? It’s scary. So I like to be with these people.”
Hollander finished his fourth race in Boise in 8 hours, 24 minutes and 16 seconds. But after thousands of races of varying lengths and 23 finishes at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, Hollander said this October’s championship will be his last.
“It’s a long race and it takes a lot of preparation, and I’ve got other things to do,” Hollander said before adding he won’t give up shorter races like the ones in Boise. “And I’m getting slower, so it’s marginal. This will be my last full Ironman.”
“He says that every year,” whispers his daughter, Twin Falls resident Heather Shields, behind a homemade sign that proclaimed Hollander is “85 years young.”
“I just shot for 80,” he jokes. “And I over shot.”