There are anecdotes galore about the different reasons people had for coming from all over the country to August's 2009 Summer National Senior Games, largely conducted at Stanford. But in every category, from the 50- to 55-year-olds up through those 90 and older, it was common to hear a simple expression of enthusiasm about the opportunity to compete at a relatively high level.
For Mike Walton, '64, there was some special motivation. The Bremerton, Wash., resident was among the uncounted subgroup making a return to Stanford. Not only was Walton an alum, he was a former hurdler on the track team, coming back as an entrant in three throwing events: the discus, hammer and shot put.
Walton, 67, didn't display any later-life super powers at the Senior Games, finishing 22nd out of 24 in the shot, 16th out of 26 in the discus and 6th out of 9 in the hammer. The results didn't matter, though, or at least not very much.
"It was everything I hoped it would be and more," says Walton, who has two children who live in the Bay Area with their families. "Throughout my college competition, I never really got to anything like the Olympic trials. This was an opportunity to be back on the field at Stanford and participate in a national event."