5 years’ ago in 2012, we reported on French cyclist Robert Marchand’s age-group record for cycling 100 kilometres. Now at the age of 105, he is still going strong and still setting records.
In January this year he cycled 22.547 kilometres (14.01 miles) in one hour. Not only is this a record, even the Over-105-Years age group is new, created especially for him.
This is not his first record since 2012, however. At the age of 103 he set a new age-group record for the greatest distance cycled in an hour - 26.92 kilometres (16.7 miles) - breaking a record that he had set previously at the age of 101.
Between these two records his performance and training regime were studied by researchers from the University of Evry-Val d'Essonne in France. They discovered that even at such an advanced age he was able to improve his fitness (VO2max up by 13%) and power output (up by 39%) over the period. Alongside that he maintained his lean body mass and his maximum heart rate all of which lead Dr Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic, to express the opinion that there doesn’t seem to be an upper age limit at which training does not have beneficial effects on one’s body. You can read more of the details here or here
According to Joyner “what this shows is that ageing is inevitable, but people with regular levels of physical activity, some of it at higher intensity, can theoretically extend their life span”. However, in our opinion, a more appropriate summing up came from the study researchers themselves who described their findings by saying that these improvements are “adding life to the life, rather than searching to kill the death.”
And that is a sentiment that we can all aim to live by.