ALPHARETTA, Ga. - Jon Adamson is a regular here at Life Time Fitness in Alpharetta, where he's been he's been coming to train and coach other triathletes for 11 years now.
"He's the boss, the beast," says fellow athlete Audrey McMurry. "Everybody knows Jon."
And when strangers find out the retired corporate manager is 80?
"Non-athletes don't believe it," Adamson says.
But Jon's fellow athletes, like McMurry, do believe it, because they've seen what Adamson can do. They met 5 years ago, when a friend invited McMurry, then in her mid-30's, on a group bike ride to celebrate Jon's birthday.
"And, what I didn't know is that, when Jon has a birthday, he does a year for each age, for each year of (his life). She laughs. "So, this bike ride ended up being a 70-miles, a 75-mile bike ride."
Today, they're training side by side, Adamson coaching the 41-year old mother of 5, while at the same time training himself for The Xterra World Championship, an off-road endurance race, later this month in Maui,
"Before this year, the oldest age group they had was 75 to 79," Adamson says. "But, I knew I was going to be 80. So, I got hold of Xterra and asked if they'd add an age group."
So Jon Adamson will be one of 3 80-something triathletes, who will swim nearly a mile in open water, then mountain bike 20 miles, then run 6 and a half miles up and down a rugged trail.
He can't wait. This from a guy who didn't start running until he was 45.
"I was pretty much a sedentary person back then," Adamson says. "I wasn't doing much."
After a friend his age died suddenly of a heart attack, Adamson started running road races with his wife Jo and friends. Then, he took on to his first triathlon, which didn't go well.
"It was horrible," Adamson says.
But, he stuck with it, trying another triathlon, and then another.
"It just turned out it was one of those things I ended up liking, and I was pretty good at it," he says.
Since then, Adamson has competed in more than 200 competitions, bringing home dozens of awards, and a few broken bones.
"But, the doctor does the surgeries on me says I recover faster than anyone he's ever done surgery on in his whole life," he smiles. "He thinks I'm a freak or something. Because he'll do surgery and I'm back in two months, racing or doing something again."
Ten years ago, about 70, Adamson slowed down a bit, switching from Ironman to half-Ironman competitions, although he's still pacing himself with athletes have his age.
"I look at it as, if I can try to stay with them, I can be a better athlete," he says.
And Audrey McMurry says Jon has made her a better competitor, too.
"What I love about Jon is that he gives me workouts and pushes me, to where he knows I can be. But, I don't always have the confidence to know I can be there."
Jon Adamson insists his first goal for Maui October 28 is just to finish.
"But with as competitive as I am, I'll probably try to race it."