Cleveland Heights council member Mary Dunbar to compete in National Senior Games this month
Cleveland Heights City Council Member Mary Dunbar will swim and bike in the National Senior Games in Cleveland July 19 through Aug. 1.
Dunbar participated in the Ohio Senior Games in 2012 to qualify for the National Games. She originally hoped to run a 5K or a half triathlon in those Games, but could not run due to a hamstring injury. Instead, she decided to compete in the 200- and 500-meter freestyle swimming events, and the 10K time trial and 20K bicycling races. By finishing fourth in her age group in both swimming events and second in both bicycle races, Dunbar qualified for all four events in the National Games.
The National Senior Games Association comprises 49 member organizations and two associate member organizations that conduct the state competitions that qualify participants for the National Senior Games. State competitions are held in even-numbered years, and the national competition is held in odd-numbered years.
Dunbar has never before competed in the National Senior Games, though she has been involved with sports most of her life. In 2009, she ran in the Cleveland Marathon. She was a member of a basketball team in high school and an intramural soccer team in college. She also was a member of a recreational swim team as a child.
Growing up, Dunbar spent "every day, all summer long" at the pool, teaching swimming. A member of the Heights Bicycle Coalition, she often rides for commuting and recreation, though her first bicycle race was last summer.
Dunbar said that not many women her age are competitive athletes, "I often come in first or do well in my age/gender group when I enter races, because I've outlasted the competition. Not infrequently, I'm the only one in my group."
"Having good coaching is really important but you have to do the work, put in the time and effort," said Dunbar, "I've been working on form, especially in running, because I had a lot of injuries until I adopted Chi-Running. In all sports, I hope that better form will help me go faster."
Dunbar said that regardless of age, everyone should exercise one way or another. "Their health and brain depend on it," she said. "People who don't exercise are more prone to obesity, diabetes and mental decline as they age. I believe that, in general, older people can accomplish more than they and others think."
Simone Quartell, a Heights High graduate, is a student at Cleveland State University and a Heights Observer intern.