This Septuagenarian Will Run, Swim and Bike Laps Around You
"At my age, I think it's a little bit too long, Keller said and smiled.
Bob deserves a break. Applause, too.
At age 77, Keller has competed in nearly 850 racing events, from neighborhood runs here in Florida's state capital to world championship duathlons and triathlons in Scotland, Hawaii, Germany and Australia.
Keller has more medals than he can count, thousands of photographs for scrapbooks, numerous white and yellow legal pads that detail his results, training segments and race schedules, and, best yet, many, many wonderful memories.
Don't worry. Keller still has plenty of goals, too.
He's going full speed and has no plans of slowing, though he admits he might stop and catch his breath when he reaches 1,000 races.
Or age 80, whichever comes first.
"I think I am getting better as time goes on but age is catching up with me," Keller explained. "Age slows you down, but I am getting stronger."
The amazing part is Keller didn't get serious about running and racing until he turned 50, a few year after he and his wife Stacia moved here from Chicago. Keller embraced the Sunshine State's weather, the southern landscape, the camaraderie of racing and the competition.
"I just get a kick out of them, " said Keller, who has raced in 17 different countries.
"I like the competition. I like the events. I love the travel portion of it. Really, I don't know what else I'd do with my time."
Keller, a 30-year member of the Gulf Winds Track Club in addition to the Gulf Winds Triathlon Club, averages more than 30 running and multi-racing events per year. He estimates he has spent a half-million dollars on entry fees, equipment and travel.
Keller is currently in week eight of his meticulous training schedule for the National Duathlon Championships in Birmingham, Ala., on March 27. The race features a 10K run (6.2 miles), 60K bike (37.28) and 10K run.
Keller, who will mix in a local 5K race on Saturday, has also circled Half-Ironman races (swim, bike, run) in New Orleans and Augusta, Ga., later this year.
Oh, by the way, Keller competed -- and placed in the top three -- of all 12 events he entered in last week's Tallahassee Senior Games. Keller resurrected and directed the Games three years ago.
"It's great to see seniors involved and active," Keller said. "I am really stuck on obesity. It just drives me crazy to see. ... I would love to see people of all ages out there stay active."
Keller follows what he preaches, rarely taking time off from training.
He hired a fitness trainer last year, but now follows a schedule he found in a triathlon magazine. Keller ran six miles with buddies from Premier Health and Fitness Center Wednesday morning at 5 a.m. He will bike 40 minutes and swim one thousand yards Thursday, followed by another six-mile run Friday.
This weekend will feature, ho-hum, a 35-mile bike ride, a nine-mile run and a 1,400-yard swim.
"This is what I love to do, and I feel very comfortable with what I do," said Keller, who is currently ranked fifth nationally by USA Triathlon in his age bracket (75-79).
Keller's weight has held steady between 160 and 165 pounds on his 5-foot-9 frame over the past 20 years. He has been blessed with good health and eats whatever his flat tummy craves. Keller credits his success to his supportive wife of 54 years, a healthy lifestyle and heredity. His grandfather came from Norway, where the family skied, and several of his mother's relatives were champion ice skaters.
Even Keller can't believe how quickly time has passed.
He played all high school sports and football (quarterback) at Bradley University before he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Korean conflict. Keller also played baseball for the Navy and one spring for the University of Hawaii.
Keller and Stacia settled in Chicago, where he retired from General Mills, Inc., at age 46. Following their move to Florida to be closer to family, Keller and his wife operated a deli here in a local mall for 10 years. Keller dabbled in stocks, too.
Of course, Keller, at age 50, decided to get serious about running. He had no idea where the sport and his feet would take him., qualifying for nearly 20 world championship events.
While he has drawn the line at Ironman distances, there's no denying Keller is an iron man.