75-year-old Reed City triathlete still bringing home the gold

Ruth Porteous Hamilton has traveled the world since winning her first triathlon at age 60

REED CITY — Ruth Porteous Hamilton, 75, is a graduate of Reed City High School with a passion for staying fit that has led her around the world.

"I’ve always been active and I’ve always tried to keep myself in reasonably good physical shape," Hamilton said, who has been a runner for most of her life. 

Her competitive triathlon career started in 2012, when Hamilton was 60 years old, which to her was "pretty late in the game."

"That's the case for a lot of us women of my generation. When we were in high school, there were no organized sports for women. We’re kind of just now coming into our own so to speak," Hamilton said.

When running was taking a toll on her body, she started incorporating biking and swimming into her workout routine, which allowed her to naturally progress into doing triathlons.

"I was just swimming one day with a lady who was going to do a triathlon in the area, and I thought, 'ooh, if she can do it I ought to be able to do it.' So I signed up for it and started my first one about three months later," she said. 

Hamilton just did local triathlons until she went to her first nationals in Burlington, Vermont, when she was tagging along with her son who is also a competitive athlete.

"I think I was so high on adrenaline and so afraid of being last. I ended up finishing first in my age group. So suddenly I'm kind of into this full time," she said. 

She recently turned 75, which moved her up an age division. Her competition is now from 75-80 year olds, putting her at the bottom of the bracket rather than the top, giving her "a little bit of an advantage."

"The thing I like about the triathlon, for my age group, is that in some ways it’s easier on my body. I run twice a week, I swim twice a week, and I bike twice a week. That’s my training. There’s no one joint or part of my body that’s really getting a lot of repetitive use," Hamilton said.

Hamilton is glad to be able to set time aside to take these trips around the country or the world to do these races, and encourages other people in her age group with a passion for staying fit to try triathlons.

"For seniors, I think it’s great because of the variety, and because there are shorter distances you can do," she said.

She finds sprints to be the most fun, and her favorite is the sprint triathlon, which entails a 750-meter swim, which is "not impossible," then a 20-kilometer bike,  and a 5-kilometer run.

"Even at 60-plus, most of us can do those distances. It takes some training if you wanna do them fast, but you don’t have to do them fast."

When Hamilton first started, she wasn't focused on going fast and only cared about finishing, and the only real objective for her was to accomplish whatever goal she had set out for herself.

"It’s also a way to meet other seniors who are interested in what you’re doing. I have a whole world of tri-friends. Most from the United States, I now have friends who I compete against from other countries that I know, if I met them on the street I would know them. I like that," Hamilton said.

Despite travel limitations that resulted from COVID-19, Hamilton has still made it to Slovakia, Romania, London, Montreal, and Mexico.