By Chris Buckley| Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Rick Meneski was caught up in the running craze of the late 1970s, while still in his late 20s.
“Running is very good for you physically and emotionally,” said the Coal Center man.
“When you are 50 years of age and can run five or six miles a day, not many people can do that. When you go to these events, whether the Senior Games of a 5K race — maybe one in every 100 people is going to do something like that.
“Emotionally it's very good for you.”
The 27th annual Senior Games will be held Wednesday at the Charleroi Area High School, 100 Fecsen Drive, in Fallowfield Township.
The parade of athletes and opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. in the amphitheater. Immediately after the parade, the public is encouraged to join in the opening when the vintage version of the song “Great Balls of Fire” begins to play and a one-minute spontaneous Senior Flash Dance (mob) erupts.
This year's theme is “energy” and the slogan, “Spark Your Energy,” was chosen to draw attention to the parallel between the influence of the energy industry in southwestern Pennsylvania and the quick-to-be-ignited energy of the Senior Games and its participants.
Individual competitions, which include the one-mile walk, 50-yard dash, basketball toss, bocce, casting, football throw, horseshoes, putting, shuffleboard, softball throw and stationary bike, will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until approximately 3 p.m.
“It's encouraging to see so many people at the senior games who understand that while they are not as physically fit as they were 30, 40, 50 years ago, they are willing to get out there and do what they can,” Meneski said.
Meneski, 62, competes with the United Mine Workers Health and Retirement Fund team.
He worked 33 years in mines, including 27 years at Dillworth Mine in Rices Landing, and when that facility closed, for five years at Loveridge in Fairview, W.Va.
Meneski is participating in his fourth Senior Games. He takes part in such events as the 50-yard dash, one-mile walk, stationary bicycle, basketball shooting and football and softball throws.
“The people who participate have varying levels of abilities,” Meneski said. “A lot do so for social reasons, but some try to be as competitive as they can and that's what I do.
“I've won my share of medals.”
Meneski still runs competitively, occasionally running 5K races.
He has run the Little Great Race in Charleroi, held in early September, for close to 20 years and has completed the Brentwood Firecracker on July 4 five times.
“I still try to do as much as I can to stay in shape,” Meneski said. “I do a lot of speed walking. It's a good exercise and good on the joints.”
Asked if he can foresee competing well into his 80s, Meneski said, “Why not?”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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