BOZEMAN — A typical morning for Molly Hayes starts out with a near three-mile run, breakfast, and then a five-mile bike ride around town. However, Wednesday morning’s routine was a little bit more special as she celebrated her 88th birthday.
“As I was saying my little prayers and jogging along, I thought, 'Hey, I’m not 87. I’m 88 today,'" said Hayes.
It’s obvious Hayes isn’t your typical 88-year-old. She’s an athlete and has competed in over 330 triathlons.
Her passion for competition dates back to her high school days when she lived on Camano Island in Washington state and and would race to school.
"We lived way down on the beach and the road where you’d catch the school bus was about two miles away, so you ran a lot," said Hayes. "I just started doing runs.”
From running to swimming, and even skiing, she does it all. She was actually a marathon runner before switching to triathlons in 1985.
"I was able to do one on the Island where I was raised," said Hayes. "That was a big deal."
She was hoping this was the year she’d win her fourth gold medal at worlds since her fiercest competitor, known as the 'Iron Nun,' moved to a different age group. COVID-19, unfortunately, halted that.
In the meantime, she’s keeping herself in shape with her daily workouts, which she enjoys dearly because she gets to spend that time with her son.
“This is my little son that died when he was 6, and he’s our guardian angel," Hayes said as she pointed to a photo pinned to her jacket. "The second part of my run I always talk to Walter.”
While keeping her guardian angel close to her heart, she shows no signs of slowing down.
“What a wonderful gift to yourself to still be doing what you like to do," said Hayes.
While also training for next year's triathlons, Hayes says she’s considering the possibility of helping out with the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines when they become available. She has 58 years of experience as an RN.