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At 80, Bulkley thrives in fast lane

PHOENIX ­ Dan Bulkley participated in the Hayward Classic masterstrack and field meet in Eugene this weekend.

That wouldn't be noteworthy, except that Bulkley entered the shot put,discus, javelin, high jump, 80-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, 800-meterrun, 1,500-meter run and 2,000-meter steeplechase.

Still not impressed?

Then consider this: Bulkley is 80 years old.

I guess that is quite a bit to take on, Bulkey says as hesits in a chair in his Phoenix home two days before the meet. ButI've got to get in shape for the world masters meet in July. I'm going todo the decathlon in that one.

Bulkley, an age group world record holder in the 300-meter hurdles andthe steeplechase and a seven-time national champion in the decathlon, hasimpressed his track and field peers almost since the day he took up runningseriously at the tender age of 70.

Trophies cover a large hutch in his living room and they represent onlya portion of what he has won. Many of his awards are stored in boxes afterhis mobile home was ravaged in the New Year's Day flood.

Bulkley is also a four-time world champion in cross country skiing anda five-time national champion in badminton.

Athletics keep my life interesting, says Bulkley, who wonfive gold medals at his first world masters meet in Australia in 1987. Theymotivate and inspire me to get out of bed in the morning. I want to seeif I can run a little faster and throw a little farther.

Although Bulkley was a better-than-average athlete at Claremont (Calif.)High School and Pomona College, where he was an all-conference end in footballand also participated in tennis and track, he didn't become a national-caliberrunner until he started running seriously again 10 years ago.

Prior to that, Bulkley taught and coached at Southern Oregon Universityfrom 1950 until his retirement in 1980. He started the track, tennis andskiing programs at SOU.

I used to jog all the time in Ashland back in the '50s and '60s,but I was so busy coaching that I didn't have time to do any serious training,Bulkley says.

I don't know why I'm doing so well now. I guess I just haven'tslowed down as much as some of the other guys my age. And I've been fortunatein that I've never had a serious injury.

Dick Nordquist, who talked Bulkley into entering masters track eventswhen the two met at a road run a little over 10 years ago, says Bulkleyexcels largely because of his work ethic and his competitive fire.

He doesn't skip workouts and once he's in a race he's all business,says Nordquist, a 72-year-old retired dentist who is also participated atthis weekend master's meet. We don't train together very often butwhen we do I have to run hard to keep up with him.

Bulkley trains three days per week with one day dedicated to a 3-milerun, another day saved for interval work (five or six 400-meter dashes)and another day reserved for speed work.

He spends three other days lifting weights, and still finds time to cultivatea big garden in the back of his home.

Bulkley's toughest event is the steeplechase, where he must hoist his80-year-old legs over 36-inch hurdles, not to mention a water jump.

I get in a lot of baths during that event, Bulkley says witha laugh. And one time I stepped on top of a hurdle and it wasn't bolteddown like it was supposed to be. I teetered back and forth and almost wipedout.

As talented as Bulkley is in track, he is just as successful in skiing.He has won the 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer world cross country titles severaltimes.

I've done a lot of skiing over the years at Mount Ashland ­both downhill and cross country, says Bulkley, who was an originalmember of the Mount Ashland Ski Patrol. It just seems to come naturalto me.

How long can Bulkley keep up what would be a busy schedule for a manhalf his age? He can answer that question with his favorite saying: Aman doesn't slow down because he gets old, he gets old because he slowsdown.

Dan Bulkley looks over a few of the dozens of awards and trophies he's won over the past 10 years. - Photo by Andy Atkinson</P