A globally competitive long jumper in his late 50s, Dr. Rich Konsens is proving that age is just a number on the tape measure
Heathrow Woods resident Richard Konsens, MD, has always enjoyed setting goals and meeting challenges. So, when he heard that a former college teammate was tackling Masters track-and-field competitions for older adults, Rich – a former Ivy League long-jump champion at Dartmouth College – was intrigued.
“I’m a goal-oriented person,” says Rich, 57. “For me to be happy – in athletics, in my career, or in my personal life – I have to set goals and try to reach them. So, when I heard about that, it gave me an idea.”
That was in 2011. Since then, Rich has competed in several national Masters meets, and his third-place finish at the 2014 USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boston earned him a bronze medal and a spot on the USA Team that competed in the World Masters Athletics Championship in Lyon, France, in August 2015.
Rich finished 10th in the world in the 55-59 age group, and this past March he placed second at the USATF Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, finishing just three inches behind the gold medal champion.
“It’s so much fun being an athlete again,” says Rich, an orthopedic surgeon. “I love the whole thing: the dieting, the training, the competition. I enjoy the journey. This brings back such great memories for me.”
Jumping has always come naturally to Rich, who grew up in White Plains, New York. One day, when Rich was about five or six years old, the local high-school track coach spotted him running around the playground. The coach walked home with Rich and talked to his parents, telling them that their son “has some talent” and encouraging them to get him involved in track and field.
Rich started competing in elementary school, and by the time he went to Alexander Hamilton High School, he was a legitimate track star. Rich racked up numerous honors during his four-year career, setting a school record and winning the New York state championship during his senior year in 1976.
At Dartmouth, Rich was captain of the track team and won the Ivy League long-jump championship as a senior in 1980. He still ranks sixth on Dartmouth’s all-time list with a best jump of 24 feet, 2-1/4 inches.
After he graduated from Dartmouth and continued on to medical school, Rich never thought he would compete in the long jump again. In fact, his parents took a photo of Rich on graduation day – complete in cap and gown – making a ceremonial final leap into the long-jump pit at the Dartmouth track.
But once he got the idea to begin competing again, Rich couldn’t wait to get started. He and his wife Michelle drove out to a local high-school track, and Rich sprinted down the runway to make his first long jump since college graduation day.
“It was such an amazing feeling,” Rich says. “I hadn’t been on a track in 35 years, but I had been doing it since I was in the first grade, so it brought back so many emotions and memories. But I also realized I had a lot of training to do to get ready to compete.”
With the support of Michelle and teenage sons Kyle (now 20) and Hunter (now 21), Rich started a daily training routine and began watching his diet. One year later, in 2012, Rich competed in his first national Masters meet in Chicago… and he finished dead last.
“I knew I had to go back to the drawing board,” Rich says. “But even though I didn’t do well, it got the fire going again.”
Rich hired a personal trainer and started doing sport-specific training for the running and jumping involved in his event. Although he has stayed in good shape over the years, Rich has trimmed almost 20 pounds off his 6-foot-2 frame since he began his quest (now 195 pounds, Rich was 175 pounds in college and was 213 pounds when he began his Masters training).
Rich’s next big meet is the 2016 USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 14-17. As for the future, Rich’s new goals are to win an age-group national championship “at some point,” win a medal at the World Championships, and set an American age-group record when he moves up to the 60-64 age group.
“I’m probably the only person who is excited about turning 60,” Rich says with a laugh. “I can’t wait! If I get lucky, if I stay in shape, and if I continue training, on the right day I could potentially medal at the World Championships. It’s not likely, but it’s doable. I’ve got nothing to lose!”
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