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Young as you feel? Make way for the kids of the National Senior Games

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"Hey, kid. Could you hold my AARP card 'til I finish this triathlon?"

It might be a plausible question in the Twin Cities this weekend, as 12,000 athletes over the age of 50 converge on the Twin Cities in the world's largest multi-sport event for that age group, the National Senior Games.

Twenty-six venues in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington will host events in 19 sports, ranging from shuffleboard and horseshoes to judo and basketball.

The games begin on Friday, but an opening ceremony is set for Saturday on Minneapolis' Nicollet Island, where a cauldron will be lit by a torch just before the city's holiday fireworks at 10 p.m.

Competition continues through Thursday, July 16 and as the Sun-Current reports, all events are free for spectators.

About 800 of the competitors in this year's games are Minnesotans, says WCCO, which caught up with a couple of them.

Ray Ranallo and Chuck Supplee each served in the South Pacific during World War II and took up tennis when they were in their 60s ... which was three decades ago.

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Susan Adams Lloyd, a co-chair of the local organizing committee who will also compete in six track and field events, tells the Star Tribune the economic impact of the games is estimated at $35 million for the Twin Cities.

But Lloyd says there may be an even bigger impact on the lives of those who compete, noting that taking part in the Senior Games changed her life:

"We’re hoping it will leave a lasting imprint of good health and happiness, and that people will regard aging in a completely different way.’’

While the chronological age of the Twin Cities may be pushed up for the next couple of weeks, the metro area's fitness age may nudge downward. Confused?

A New York Times health blog explains that Senior Game athletes were studied by researchers developing the concept of a fitness age. It's based on data including heart rate, waist size, and exercise habits.

The Senior Games athletes who took part averaged 68 years old but their average fitness age was only 43.

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