Pacifican Tammy Dale, 54, participated in the power walking competition in the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, and won “overall champion” in her three races, coming in first in the women’s competitions.

The games were founded by Daisy and John H. Morgan Jr. 34 years ago. They believed the senior years are better when good health and fitness are a way of life. The  games are open to those 50 and older.

Power walker Tammy Dale

Power walker Tammy Dale poses with her mother-in-law and supporter Georgi La Berge. La Berge is responsible for getting her daughter-in-law into the sport in 2018.

Photo courtesy Tammy Dale

This year’s senior games, held Oct. 11 and 13, welcomed more than 10,000 athletes competing in 35 sports, including archery, badminton, basketball and volleyball.

Dale’s father-in-law started going to the games 12 years ago to play volleyball. Her mother-in-law started power walking when it was added to the games in 2018. She invited Dale to the Bay Area Senior Games and trained her on form. Dale said she was happy to get back in the competition after her days running track and cross-country at Aragon High School.

“Everyone is inspiring me to age gracefully,” she said.

Dale raced and won gold in the 1,500-meter event in the 2018 and 2019 Bay Area Senior Games. She won gold in the Huntsman games for the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters those years. This year, she said she was going to run just those two races but was having so much fun in the competition she decided to add the 5,000-meter. Her winning times were 9:58 for the 1,500-meter, 20:39 for the 3,000-meter and 34:55 for the 5,000-meter.

“It feels good to compete,” she said. “I’m racing with hundreds of people. It’s more about a friendly competition of people who are getting older and we still want to be fit. If this was the Bay to Breakers, I wouldn’t win. The senior games keep me inspired.”

Power walking requires one foot on the ground at all times, she said, and officials were making sure she kept her form and didn’t break into a run.

“Your hips are really working. Race walking is faster,” she said.

She trains by walking four to five miles, four days a week, in the hills of Pacifica, at roughly a 12-minute pace, she said. A few months before a race she works out on a track to work on her speed.

“We went from sunny to 45 degrees in the mountains,” she said. “They put men and women in one of my races, which was good, I had men in front of me to catch. It’s all about the camaraderie of people encouraging each other. They give medals at every age group.

“Right now, I am happy to do this once a year and the local Bay Area senior games,” she said. “That keeps me going.”

She also has been event lead volunteer for the last eight years for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Pacifica and a participant for 12 years. She works as a revenue growth manager for Diageo, an alcohol beverage provider.

She is an 11-year cancer survivor who has Lynch Syndrome, a genetic condition that puts her at a high risk for cancer.

“One in 279 people have Lynch, which is more

common than the breast cancer gene, yet it is mostly unknown,” she said. “Awareness has increased since the early 2000s, but there is much work to do to educate both the medical community and the general population about

recognizing risk factors and identifying patients with Lynch.”

Registered participants at the Huntsman games have access to more than a dozen health screenings as part of the games and access to health-related vendors, she said.

Dale wants to encourage more Pacificans to participate in the Huntsman games and Relay for Life.

Jane Northrop has covered Pacifica for the Pacifica Tribune since 1996. She has won first place John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for her coverage of education.

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