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Treasure Island triathlete, 88, credits family support in Hall of Fame career

Triathlete Jackie Yost, 88, with her racing bike on her Sunset Beach dock Thursday, January 26, 2016 on Treasure Island.  Jackie and her husband Larry compete regularly in triathlons.   Jackie was recently inducted in the USA Triathlon Florida Region Hall of Fame.
Triathlete Jackie Yost, 88, with her racing bike on her Sunset Beach dock Thursday, January 26, 2016 on Treasure Island. Jackie and her husband Larry compete regularly in triathlons. Jackie was recently inducted in the USA Triathlon Florida Region Hall of Fame.
Published Feb. 28, 2017

TREASURE ISLAND — The walls of Jackie Yost's home are lined with the countless ribbons, medals and trophies she and her husband have won in triathlons and Ironman races, 15ks and fun-runs.

"After a while, you just don't know where to put them," she said with a shrug.

Yost, who actively trains and competes in triathlons at age 88, recently was inducted into the USA Triathlon Florida Region Hall of Fame. It surprised Yost, who ran her first triathlon at 65.

"What I do is so simple and most people should do it," she said. "It's not extraordinary for me. Sometimes people will ask to take a picture with me and I'll say, 'Well, why?' "

Every morning Yost and her 86-year-old husband, Larry, are up at 5:15.

On weekends, they go on long runs and golf. On Mondays, they swim and bike. Tuesdays, they do gym workouts and track training. Wednesdays are similar to Mondays. Thursdays are their long running days and more gym training.

But Fridays are Jackie's favorite days. A few years ago she started an open swim, inviting anyone to join them for a swim near their Treasure Island home. About 25 people usually come.

"It's so important to have a partner," she said, looking at her husband. "You've got to have someone in your corner."

"There are some mornings you get up and say, 'Ooh, I don't want to,' and this one over here says, 'Oh yes you are.' And vice versa."

Since she was young, she knew she liked being active. Jackie met Larry 66 years ago. She was a recreation center director in Winston-Salem, N.C.. He was a swimmer at North Carolina State. They dated for a couple of years and then got married.

A basketball player in high school, she played intramural and studied recreation in college. Then she worked as an athletic director and coach.

When her kids were young, she was a stay-at-home mom, but said she lived vicariously through their dance, swim meets and baseball.

She and her husband began running more, running their first triathlon in 1993 with their daughter Joy.

"We had no idea what it would be like," Jackie said. "We just swam and biked and ran. To our surprise, every single one of us came in first in our age divisions."

Joy, who has run several marathons with her parents and siblings, said her mom's athleticism shaped all of their paths. Joy studied recreation in college too.

"I grew up in a family that held sports as a part of your being, as a way of life," she said.

Joy met her husband, Steve Edwards, when they were training with the same marathon coach.

Steve and Joy live next to the Yosts. Marrying into the family, Steve said, was like an athletic dream come true.

"A lot of people carve out a lifestyle and carve out time for fitness," he said. "In this family, physical fitness is the lifestyle."

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When Steve and Joy decided to get married in 1993, the overriding problem was to schedule their wedding around race dates.

Eventually, they decided to keep it casual and do it in Jackie and Larry's back yard. They told their friends they could run, bike or swim up to the wedding in their gear.

Training and competing has become a family affair. The entire family has registered in races, once being 100 years older collectively than any other participating team.

Injuries can be a problem.

Jackie had open heart surgery once and broke her shoulder in a bike accident. Larry broke his ribs when he fell on the highway. Joy fell off her bike and needed surgery in September. Steve had knee surgery in December and once ran the Bay to Bay race in a body cast after he was hit by a car a month earlier. Larry still reminds him he beat Steve in that race.

"It's really a culture," Steve said. "Some people think we're half crazy. Even doctors who aren't athletes sometimes seem critical of our choices, but doctors who are understand. It's a way of life."

It has not always been easy, Larry said.

"You start to find your old friends start to disappear," he said. "You have nothing in common with them anymore."

But to Jackie, it's worth it.

She worries when she hears of schools cutting physical education programs or sees kids who don't play outside enough.

"So many times as people grow older, they don't want to get involved in sports because they're a little ashamed they never learned when they were young," she said. "It's so important for young people to get out there and get out of the house and get playing."

Hector Torres, chair of the USA Triathlon Florida region, said Jackie has been influential in getting more women in the area involved in participating in triathlons, hosting women's clinics and races.

"She could be hurt, she could be in pain, she could be having a rough day and she'll have a smile on her face," Torres said. "She keeps on going. That should be an example to people in Florida and around the world. It's never too late to get yourself involved or in shape."

She said she knows a day will come where she won't be able to be as active as she is now, and she's not looking forward to it.

"From cradle to grave, I want to be playing. I've been a playgirl all my life," she said with a laugh. "I've liked being active and I'm most happy when I'm outside."

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