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73-Year-Old Grandmother to Swim, Run and Bike Hundreds of Miles at Ironman: 'I Love Feeling Fit'

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On Saturday morning, Bobbe Greenberg will be running, biking and swimming hundreds of miles through Hawaii all in a bid to defend her Ironman World Championship title.

The 73-year-old from Highland Park, Illinois, says the race — a grueling trek that would be tough for anyone no matter their age — fills her with excitement. Put simply, it’s the ultimate adrenaline rush.

“I’m pretty much in training all year, all year round,” Greenberg, who began competing in triathlons two decades ago, tells PEOPLE. “Even if I’m not swimming, biking, or running, I ski. I take a spring vacation skiing with my grandkids and my family, and I’ll just do other classes in the gym, lifting or spinning. I’m active almost every day. Six days a week, for sure, I try to do something physical.”

Along with other competitors, Greenberg will be traversing 2.4 miles through the ocean, followed by a 112-mile bike ride that will lead into a full 26.2-mile marathon to finish the race in only a day’s time.

“I love feeling fit,” Greenberg says. “I love that feeling, like, ‘Oh, my car’s in the shop?’ I can walk or I can run. I go onto the plane and when someone looks at my face and asks, ‘Oh, can we help you with your bag?’ I’m like, ‘No, I’ll help you. You want me to help you get your bag in the overhead?’ That kind of thing.”

“I like that feeling,” she adds. “That I can take care of myself.”

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Bobbe Greenberg

But competing in the race isn’t about chasing glory for the returning women’s ages 70-74 triathlon champion. Instead, it’s about exploring nature and with a community of fellow athletes. That’s what motivates her to train nearly every day of the week.

“I love being outdoors and I love being with my friends, so it feeds that social part of me in so many ways,” she explains. “You have to put in so many hours every day doing something, so it gives me some sense of purpose, and it’s fun.”

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“I’m always ensuring that I have other people to do things with, because I can’t motivate myself on my own,” admits Greenberg, who has two daughters, four grandchildren and has been married for 51 years.

Bobbe Greenberg

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For anyone over the age of 60 who hasn’t quite found the motivation to visit the gym, Greenberg recommends taking a different approach. Find a local fitness group to join, she says, it’s a great way to become more active and make friends along the way.

“I think a lot of people think that being active is going to the gym and running on a treadmill,” Greenberg says. “If that was it, I wouldn’t do it either. I would find that very difficult to do. What drives me is the groups that I’m apart of and the friendships that I’ve made.”