A sense of playful competition filled the Magna Kennecott Senior Center last week as seniors participated in the third annual Magna Wellness Decathlon.
The Salt Lake County Aging Services hosts the decathlon to get seniors more involved and to keep them moving and having a good time.
One of the most giggle-filled events was Minute to Win It, where seniors tied a Kleenex box filled with ping-pong balls to their back and had to dance, jump and shake their booties to empty the box.
Matthew Dodge, Salt Lake County Aging Services Center program assistant in charge of the event, informed the seniors of the rules for the other nine games – horseshoes, Boggle, nine-ball pool, shuffleboard, scavenger hunt, target bocce ball, table shuffleboard, Wii bowling and a mystery game.
Contestants adorned in orange shirts with smiley faces paraded through the center, led by Nivardo Moreno, 87, from the Riverton Senior Center. The honor was bestowed to him for being this year's oldest senior at the event.
In its third year, about 76 seniors competed in the 10 events. The numbers have doubled from the first decathlon, Dodge said. He is optimistic that the numbers will continue to grow, and they will continue to see more participants and more senior centers competing in the decathlon in following years.
Opening ceremonies concluded as poppers shot into the air signaling the games to begin. Energetic seniors raced to their events with score cards in hand.
"I am a little nervous," said Harry Powers, "This is my first time. I'm going to participate in the physical events, but not the Boggle." It wasn't his first time at the center. Powers said he enjoys playing pool and sitting on the advisory council. He also uses the Magna center's gym to exercise three times a week.
"Hold your wrist straight," said Shad Simpson, coaching some of the Wii bowlers. Simpson was one of the volunteers whom The National Reserve Bank sent to help with the event. The volunteers were happy and excited, giving encouraging words to the competitors.
It's a lot of fun, said Emily Pugh, Kearns Center advisory council president. "I enjoy the Wii bowling and competing with the other centers." She said there are ways to get ready for these events Friday mornings, pool lessons are offered to senior women.
"The guy, James Dent, that teaches us is really, really good."
The mystery event was challenging for participants. A plastic cup was placed face down on the edge of the table, and players had to tap it with their hand so it would land on a root-beer bottle, with the opening covering the bottle.
"It's fun, but a little difficult," said Sandra Mueller.
Vickie Banks said, "It's more challenging than some of the other games."
Jane Vega took on the Junk in the Trunk game. She tied the tissue box to her waist and danced and jumped and shook until all the ping-pong balls were on the floor.
It took her just less than four seconds.