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Original Issue

This Ironman Won't Rust

BILL BELL, 92, wakes up every morning around 4 and goes for a 20-mile predawn bike ride, gliding through the empty, darkened streets of Palm Desert, Calif. Afterward the grandfather of eight might hit the pool or pop into a Pilates class at his retirement community. He has completed more than 300 triathlons, including 19 Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; Bell was featured in Faces for winning his age group there in '96, one of five times he bested his peers in the annual race. He appeared in SI again in 2001, at 78, as the then-oldest Ironman finisher. Next month he will be inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Boston. The retired aeronautical engineer has a pacemaker and has traded running for power walking but has no plans to give up training and racing. "I'm still hanging tough," Bell says.