September 23, 2023 3 min read 9 Comments
*There is nothing unused in her life. Running, cooking, cleaning, hostessing at 82.
*The Ironman requires unbounded energy. It is AnnMarie's foundation.
*The habit of working out is an abiding belief for this 82-year old.
By Ray Glier
The burst of crosswind as she turned around a bend on the mountain path did not just blow AnnMarie DeMonte’s bike sideways a meter, or two, as she rode. The wind, which can strike riders at 45 mph to 70 mph, lifted Ann Marie's bike—and AnnMarie—off the ground and tossed bike and rider on their side.
She got up and kept going in the 112-mile bike portion of the Ironman World Championship.
That seems to be AnnMarie’s motto.
DeMonte is 82, soon to be 83, and she considers the finish to her athletic endeavors to be some place in the distant future. Like the bronze toppings of churches in Italy, which I imagine is where the name DeMonte originated, AnnMarie insists she is meant to last a long time and just to keep going.
“I don’t feel 82,” said DeMonte, who grew up in Connecticut and lives in Port Charlotte, Fla. “I’ll stop when my body falls apart.”
AnnMarie completed 23 Ironman events, 18 in Hawaii in the World Championships, before she retired. It is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run. In 2022, 1 in 5 people dropped out of the Ironman National Championship.
DeMonte did the Ironman competitions 19 years. These days she keeps up her militancy against age in long sprint triathlons, which is Ironman-like for someone in their 80s.
AnnMarie also does 5k and 10k road races, half marathons, and just rides her bike to get here and there—sometimes 15 miles one way to her beach club.
Her keep going ethos is real.
In one Ironman, AnnMarie felt dejected at her finish. Her time was subpar. Then somebody walked up and told her she won her age group. All the others had dropped out because of the brutal conditions of heat, humidity, wind, and distance.
“I’m not fast,” DeMonte said, "but I kept it straight and narrow, kept it going. I didn't worry about what other people were doing.”
It was in that Ironman in Hawaii that another competitor in the age group thought she was going to beat AnnMarie. The woman had bought a special outfit for the occasion to celebrate. When DeMonte won, the woman presented the outfit to AnnMarie.
AnnMarie’s next long sprint triathlon is in Key West in December when she will be 83. She will swim 800 meters in open water, bike 14 miles, and run four miles.
To train for the competition, AnnMarie runs three to four times a week, works with weights three days a week, rides the bike two to three times a week, and plays pickleball three times a week.
It is no accident of genes that she is so active at 82. AnnMarie works at it, and adds stretches to avoid injuries.
“I also have my daily cooking and cleaning,” DeMonte said. “I don’t have a house cleaner.”
Of course she doesn’t.
AnnMarie is blue collar—she was a hairdresser—and she knows how to work.
She has unusual endurance, which made it difficult for her to settle in to a routine of sprint triathlons, not the grueling full Ironman. The sprint race just seemed too short at first, but DeMonte had to adjust in her 70s, she said, because she didn’t want to risk injury with overuse of her body.
"I miss the Ironman," she said. "But I had to stop."
The one thing she wouldn’t adjust was her attitude. In her 70s, AnnMarie started applying for jobs as a restaurant hostess. She looked 20 years younger, but she didn’t get the first job she applied for when it was discovered she was 76.
The next job DeMonte chased, age didn’t come up and she was hired by Sandra’s German Restaurant.
“I don’t move slow, I’m pretty lively,” AnnMarie said. “It’s pretty fun to be out and about and interacting with people.”
You have to get up early to keep up with DeMonte. To beat the Florida swelter, AnnMarie runs at 6 a.m., then she comes home to cook from scratch, meals like Shepherd’s Pie and chicken chili. She is a prophet of healthy.
DeMonte will sooner or later fold her hands in her lap and say "I'm done." Who knows when that will be. Right now, she just keeps going.
DeMonte after a road race in Florida.
It's the attitude of being 'out there'.
AnnMarie had to get accustomed to "shorter races", like the local 5ks and 10ks.
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