Bridge Run’s Oldest Participant Returning for This Year’s Event

RUNSWICK, Georgia: Jan. 18, 2012 – At age 41, Bud Frankenthaler had a motorcycle accident that resulted in a concussion, collapsed lung and 18 broken bones. His doctors told him he would be crippled from arthritis in 10 years. To prove them wrong, he began to exercise...and never stopped.

Not only did he defy the doctors’ predictions and never developed arthritis, on Feb. 18, the 78 ½-year-old Jesup resident will participate in the Southeast Georgia Health System Bridge Run for the ninth time. He is a big fan of the event, which is celebrating its “tenth year running.” To date, he is the Bridge Run’s oldest competitor.

“It is the truest bridge run I know of. In other bridge runs, only a quarter or a half of the run is on the bridge; the rest is on flat ground. This bridge is 2.5-kilometer long, and because you start on the bridge, go over it, make a U-turn and come back, the entire 5K run takes place on the bridge. Only 130 feet of the run is flat, and that's at the top,” Frankenthaler says.

Frankenthaler knows the trick to running on a bridge. “You have to run a little differently, so as not to pull your muscles. You can't go downhill too fast,” he explains. “Going uphill is like climbing steps. You have to take a shorter pace than normal, and your muscles will react well.”

After his accident, Frankenthaler started exercising by getting off the elevator one floor below his twenty-third floor office and running up the stairs. As he grew stronger, he added a floor at a time until he could run up all 23 flights. He also swam in a friend’s lap pool.

When he moved from New Jersey to Georgia, he took up running and continued swimming. Initially leery of bicycling on streets, it took a woman to change his mind.

“My wife died, and I fell in love with a beautiful woman who loved biking. She talked me into bicycling on Jekyll Island, where there are paths that are off the roads. She made a monster of me!” he says.

Frankenthaler added biking to his routine, and seven years ago entered his first sprint triathlon—half-mile swim, 15-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run. This year alone, he intends to participate in five sprint triathlons, two bridge runs and at least six other runs. He is also on the Georgia Master's swim team and will compete in the April Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

In September, Frankenthaler will compete in nine events in the Georgia Golden Olympics with the hope of qualifying for the biannual National Senior Olympics, to be held in July 2013. He has set his sights for qualifying in all nine events, plus triathlons. Entry is based on qualifying one year in advance.

To prepare, he maintains a strict exercise routine. Every day before he starts work at his security company, he does 75 push-ups, 25 sit-ups, warm-ups and 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. He bikes and runs once a week. In good weather, he does pool laps. And, he expects the Health System Bridge Run to be a piece of cake, but “you can't take any athletic event for granted,” he cautions.

“I do it for fun, because I can beat a lot of 40-year-old runners,” he says. “Seriously, most of my triathlons are run in hilly country, and bridge events are great training for the hills of North Georgia. Lord willing, my first goal in any event is to finish. My second goal is to do better than last time.”

The Tenth Annual Southeast Georgia Health System Bridge Run and Runner’s Expo is scheduled to take place Saturday, Feb. 18, at the foot of the scenic Sidney Lanier Bridge on Highway 17 in Brunswick, Ga., and will benefit the Health System’s cancer care programs. Tbe5k walk/run will begin at 8 a.m. with the runners start. The Firefighter Challenge will begin at 8:30 a.m. and all walkers will start across the bridge at 9 am. Runners and walkers can register at sghs.org or active.com. The deadline for pre-registration is Feb. 12 and the cost is $25 per individual, with a $2 discount per person for teams of 10 or more. A Pre-Run Pasta Party and Runner’s Expo is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 17, from 5-8 p.m. at Coastal Kitchen Grill & Raw Bar located at the Golden Isles Marina on St. Simons Island. The cost of the party is $5 and each pre-registered runner can pick up his or her bib number and T-shirt. For an official entry form or more information, visit sghs.org or active.com or call 1-800-537-5142, ext. 2786.