George Krause won the 50-54 age group in the pentathlon at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

George Krause won the 50-54 age group in the pentathlon at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

George Krause went to the USA Track and Field Masters Outdoor Championships not to just battle the other five participants in his age group, 50-54, but to compete against himself, and cancer.

And he won.

In the pentathlon, which includes the 200 and 1,500-meter runs, long jump, and discus and javelin throws, Krause recorded 3,211 points at Grand Vally State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. on July 14-17 to win his age group.

Krause, the computer lab teacher at Claggett Creek Middle School, was diagnosed with leukemia lymphoma a year and half ago when he decided to get a bump on his neck checked out.

“I’m going to continue doing things most people can’t do for as long as I possibly can because you start taking stock of the time you have left when you get a diagnosis like that,” he said.

“The fact that I can go out there and still sprint and still throw and still do things that most 50-year-olds can’t do, then I know I’m not sick. It was found early. The cancer is not aggressive, which is problematic because you can’t really cure it. It’s just a very slow moving train.”

Because he’s not sick, Krause isn’t undergoing any treatment, just blood work every six months.

Krause threw the javelin in college at Harvard but said he was no star.

At the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships, Krause placed first in both the javelin and discus, second in the long jump and 200 and fifth in the 1,500.

“I’m a thrower,” he said. “I don’t mind sprinting, not a fan at all of the 1,500. I’m just now learning the long jump. This was only the third time I’d ever long jumped at a competition was in this championship.

“I’m just a regular cat. It wasn’t like I ever went to the Olympic trials or anything like that. I’m just a Joe that decided to get off the couch and do stuff and found some success. I’m hoping a couple of people might actually read this and think I could do that. I bet you there are people in this city right here that are better pentathletes than I am. It’s just a matter of doing it.”

While his throws of 152-10 and 141-01 in the javelin and discus, respectively, were both better than any pentathlete age 30 to 83, Krause also competed in each event individually. He placed third in the javelin and fourth in the discus.

“I’m a tweener,” Krause said. “If you take my 200 time [26.08] and compare it against the guys my age that specialize in the 200, they’ll smoke me. The big guys that can throw farther than me, can’t sprint. The guys that can sprint faster than me, can’t throw. That’s why it [decathlon] suits me.”

Krause pulled a hamstring a month before the competition and decided to stop training.

“I said I may be in the worst shape imaginable but I’m going to be healthy so my goal was to make it to the end and be able to compete and do respectable. I wanted to score over 3,000 points and I did that.”

His goal now is to break the U.S. record in his age group—3,639.

After college, Krause said he’d been stationary for 25-30 years when his wife, Karma, convinced him to try CrossFit with her.

He now works out five days a week at Mahoney CrossFit in Salem.

“I’m probably stronger now than I’ve ever been in my life,” he said. “I was shocked by how weak I was [before CrossFit]. When you hit 40, you start losing muscle mass. This is the heaviest I’ve been in my life. Since joining CrossFit, I’ve gained about 20 pounds. My issue was not being fat. It was getting weak. I was withering. This will kick your butt. Things that are easy usually don’t make that much of a difference. It works because it’s hard. This is a home atmosphere. People rally and take care of each other. When people are sick, they get together and are cooking each other meals. It’s very much a community atmosphere. That’s more important to me than how difficult the workouts are.”

Krause also goes to the track to work on his throws and sprints two days a week, which he considers his days off.

He doesn’t have an official track coach, but Karma, who competed in high school, helps.

Krause also studies the game, watching professionals and their technique.

“I’ve learned a tremendous amount,” he said. “ When I was in college, I was strong enough that I could muscle things and make it happen. I can’t do that anymore.  That’s been very interesting. My discus has improved and my javelin has fallen off the cliff. As I’ve aged, I’m stronger but not nearly as flexible. You really start getting an understanding of what your body can do.”