By Mo Cranker on April 17, 2018.
Grant McLeod has been cross-country skiing for more than 40 years — and he’s still going strong.
The 72-year-old Medicine Hatter spends parts of every year travelling around the world competing in long and short cross-country ski races.
“It actually all started in the ’70s,” he said. “A coworker back in the day told me about the Saskatchewan 60, a 60-kilometre cross-country race, and I ended up signing up for that.
“I realized I had a couple months to do some sort of training, and I started working out in preparation of the race. I think I can say I survived that first one. That’s a good word, because I was wrecked by the end of it.”
After his first race, McLeod started taking ski improvement lessons and gained further interest in the sport.
“The first one was a good experience, and it definitely made me interested in the sport,” he said. “I started going to different races around the country, and slowly improved.”
To date, McLeod has completed 112 long races of 42-90 kilometres and 25 short races, which are 25-45 kilometres long. He says the exercise is what keeps him going.
“It’s really important to stay in shape at every point in life,” he said. “The exercise cross-country skiing gives me is very important and keeps me interested for sure.
“As you go on in life, you do slow down. Your strides get a bit shorter and you start to see that you slow a bit, but you can still stay in shape and compete, even at my age.”
McLeod has lived in the Hat for a couple years, and spent most of his years working in Saskatchewan, but grew up in southwestern Ontario. He says has no plans to stop.
“I don’t want to,” he said. “I want to keep going as long as I can, and as long as I’m healthy enough to.”
McLeod is now gearing up for his final race of the season, which takes place later this month in Iceland.
“Right now I’m getting ready for the race in Iceland,” he said. “There’s a couple of events that take place there, and it’ll be a really fun time for sure.”
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