“When I turned 40, that’s when I started wrecking records, and that’s when I started getting really, really serious.”—Nolan Shaheed, 66
“As long as the good Lord gives me my health, I’m going to keep going until 100 years old if I have to.”—Flo Meiler, 81
Angela Jimenez was always an athlete growing up. When she was a little girl, at her birthday parties, she would hold relay races with her friends. And then much later, she took her athleticism to another level, competing in track and field at the storied University of Pennsylvania, where she competed in the heptathlon and was co-captain of the team. Even though Jimenez was competing at a very high level, she began to realize that even though she had become the best athlete she could be, she would not be able to pursue it as a profession. So she left track and field behind. She enrolled in journalism school, where she studied photojournalism.
One day many years later, Jimenez was working as a photographer in New York City. She was on assignment for the New York Times when she met a doctor who competed in the masters track & field circuit. Jimenez had heard of these events but had never seen them in person. The doctor told her she should check an upcoming National Senior Games meet in Kentucky. She did. And so began a nine-year odyssey of examining the world of senior citizens competing in track and field that would result in “Racing Age,” a book of essays and photographs examining master athletes competing not only in the United States but also in Europe.
Jimenez’s book is not a mere investigation of a culturally interesting phenomenon, but it is a personal exploration, as well. As Jimenz says in the foreword, “I was intrigued for a few reasons. An aging athlete myself, I’d taken up yoga and acrobatics but I often wondered how, or if, my track & field career related to my life and work.” But that’s not all, Jimenez was also watching her parents age and how they were navigating the aging process. Jimenz says, “I was frustrated by the stereotypical depictions of senior citizens as frail or cute. I wanted my photos to rebel against cliché.” In its page upon page of showing the will and determination of people living out their passions, no matter their age, “Racing Age” does just that — brushes aside quaint cliches, providing us with a document that celebrates what is possible, if we put our minds and bodies to it, at any age.
“Racing Age” is available to purchase here.
The book will also be exhibited as part of the 7th Annual Photobook Show at the Griffin Museum of Photography [griffinmuseum.org] in Winchester, Mass. Show runs March 9-31. Opening reception March 9 from 6:30-8:30 pm.