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    Games embody fit fun after 50

    Winners at Pinellas' Good Life Games will qualify for the Florida Senior Games. If sports aren't your strength, there's cribbage, pinochle and a trivia contest, too.

    By JULIANNE WU

    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 2001


    Ah, the good life.

    If you ask anyone 50 or older what the good life means to them, their definitions might include physical and mental challenges, activities and competition.

    That would also sum up the annual Good Life Games, now in their 21st year in Pinellas County. This year's games, which include 31 sporting events at venues throughout the county, run from March 24 through April 1. There are 10 age categories to cover people ages 50 through 100.

    Kathleen Fitzgerald of Clearwater is one of the Good Life Games' best cheerleaders. She is also the events director -- and the only paid staff member.

    "When I moved here from California four years ago, I was feeling sorry for myself," said Fitzgerald, 58. When I heard about the games, it gave me an immediate entry to people who liked the same things as me. I gained instant friends."

    Even though she is a staff member for the games, Fitzgerald will be allowed to enter its sporting events. She mentioned sprints in the track and field events, badminton, table tennis and possibly figure skating.

    Also new this year, she said, are ice hockey, the games of cribbage and pinochle, a "Pass-Throw-Kick" contest and Senior Smarts, a trivia contest.

    The Good Life Games began in 1980 as a small track and field event for competitors 55 and over. Through the years it has blossomed into a nine-day health and fitness extravaganza that involves thousands of seniors, including about 1,500 competitors and lots of spectators. And the minimum age was lowered to 50.

    Here is a partial list of activities planned in mid and north Pinellas County:

    Badminton -- Singles (men and women) and doubles (same-sex and mixed), 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 31, Largo Highland Recreation Complex, 400 Highland Ave.

    Bowling -- Singles (men and women) and doubles (same-sex or mixed), 3 p.m. March 28, Seminole Lanes, 8668 Park Blvd.

    Horseshoes -- 9 a.m. check-in and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 28, Ed Wright Park, 1300 S Greenwood Ave.

    Ice Skating -- 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. March 24, Tampa Bay Skating Academy, 251 Lakeview Drive, Oldsmar.

    Lawn Bowls -- Beginning at 9 a.m. March 27, Clearwater Lawn Bowls Club, 1040 Calumet St.

    Pass-Throw-Kick -- 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 31, Clearwater High School, 540 S Hercules St.

    Racquetball -- Singles/doubles (same-sex), March 26-30, Quadrangle Athletic Club, 2147 Pine Forest Drive, Clearwater.

    Swimming -- Beginning 9 a.m. March 25, the Long Center, 1501 N Belcher Road, Clearwater.

    Top winners in various age categories will qualify for the Florida Senior Games in November in Polk County.

    - Information from Times files was used in this report.

    How to enter

    Entry forms for the annual Good Life Games, March 24-April 1, are now available at numerous Pinellas County locations. They can be obtained on the Internet at www.GoodLifeGames.org or by calling (727) 892-5420. Entry deadline is March 10.

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