Eddie Flinchum finds age is no obstacle to achieving fitness

Published 11:30 am Friday, October 20, 2023

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Special to the Sun

Over the last two years, Winchester’s Eddie Flinchum, 73, has lost track of how often people have told him he’s doing too much exercise and needs to remember his age.

Flinchum, who retired a decade ago and now works at College Park Gym, smiles and says, “No, you need to be doing more and quit using your age as a reason to not do something.”

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His fitness journey reached a milestone last weekend in Lebanon, Tn., when he and his son Forrest run in the Nashville Spartan Event. They ran a 10K (equal to 6.2 miles) while negotiating 25 obstacles, including rope climbs, monkey bars, wall climbs, carrying 60-pound sandbags and wading through a 12-foot-wide creek to the finish.

Getting in shape to complete Nashville and other Spartan races has been no small task. When he committed to getting in shape in January of 2021, Flinchum weighed 38 pounds more, and he could hardly run any distance.

He began working with the trainers at College Park Gym, including April Stanfield, Barb Hatton and others. The gym’s TRX class, in particular, changed his life.

“I started doing TRX with Jeff Lewis on Tuesday and Emily Tipton on Thursdays,” Flinchum said. “I fell in love with this class. It uses your body weight as the resistance, and it is a total body workout. It’s also good for balance and not hard on the joints.”

Because Forrest was already doing Spartan races then, his dad decided to try them. Nine months into the fitness journey, he did the Nashville Spartan Sprint and “thought I was going to die.”

In August of 2022, Flinchum did a Spartan race in West Virginia, where he said he was not properly hydrated and ran out of energy fast. “It was a miserable day, and I remember how awful the hill climbs were. The 60-pound sandbag carry was horrible.”

Flinchum has an artificial right knee and problems with his left knee, but he refused to quit.

In October of 2022, he ran a 7-mile race in Nashville. At the fourth mile, he fell off an obstacle and tore a groin muscle. “The next three miles were so painful, and I still had the bucket carry, the sandbag carry and the Atlas stone carry, along with several other obstacles.

The day left Flinchum bruised from the groin to his ankles. His doctor predicted it could take a full year to heal.

But four months later, he started running again and set a goal to get his distances up to 7 miles. Over the next six months, he gradually increased his runs. On Aug. 4 this year, after running for two hours on the Winchester Traveling Trail, he looked down at his Apple watch. He had run 7.09 miles.

A family illness forced him to postpone plans to run a Beast Spartan Race in West Virginia in late August. But he and Forrest were ready for the race in Nashville, and he will be doing a similar race in Newberry, South Carolina, in November.

“I think I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been in my life, and that’s saying a lot,” said Flinchum, who will be 74 in November. “I hope that along this journey, I’ve encouraged others, and they can go on to have their own story tell.”