From The Desk Of Clarence Bass
Our Super-Fit Friend Richard Stent Has Died--at 66
Photo courtesy of Roberta Johnson
The love of his life, Roberta Johnson, tells us that his death in March was a lightning bolt out of the blue, sudden and completely unexpected.
He and I built an enduring relationship debating the dynamics of exercise.
Our first email exchange was in 2008 when he was still living in South Africa. He was commenting on an interview Bryan Bowker and I did with Austrian sports climber Jurgen Reis. In addition to complimenting Jurgen on his mastery of the English language, he wanted to challenge the assertion that excessive endurance exercise destroys muscle. “I know you enjoy personal stories, so I would, in a few days, like to back up that opinion, as I have first-hand experience. I will send you a current photo of me at 55 (current age), and give you a brief bio on my lifelong combination of serious cardio and serious weights (and serious replenishment!!!)
To say that his "ultra sport" background was amazing would be an understatement:
That [photo] was taken a couple of months ago, on a trail run in South Africa. Weight was about 213 lbs., and my height was 5 ft 10 inches. Body fat is 12%. Age is 55.
My weight does not vary more than a couple of pounds, no matter how much cardio I do, and this includes ultra marathons…as long as I weight train 3 x per week, and eat a ton of red meat, pasta, potatoes, and salad.
In theory, I am too heavy according to the “rule book,” to run, or do ultra sport!! But I have trained throughout my life and in the past 25 years have competed in 5 Iron Man triathlons, numerous marathons and ultras, including 8 of the well-known Comrades marathon in South Africa (90 kilometers). I have also done several multi day canoe events, and am an avid hiker.
I can still turn in a comfortable sub 2 hour half marathon (just over 13 miles) running around just 14 miles a week…at my given weight.
Clarence, none of this is to brag…I am a small fry in the athletic world…but I love it, and the key is a lifelong consistency. I train every single day of my life, and if I am ever ill…which is rare, I will train according to how I feel, but I will exercise. The food that works for me is as mentioned…a ton of red meat is my preferred protein…and once in a while I clean out the chocolate manufacturers! (I have found that pure cod liver oil is unmatchable for the immune system.)
I have found absolutely that if I cut back on cardio work, I lose both strength and muscle mass absolutely contrary to what the “book” says. For example, when I cut my cardio before an ultra, I lose weight and feel weak and do not look good. I have studied this for ages and you guys are the first experts I have come across who debunk the theory.
I have finished the Comrades again…90 kilometers…as heavy as when I started…I eat as much on the run as I can. This will include anything from fruit at the seconding points, to anything I can scrounge from spectators along the route, like potatoes and barbecued sauce!
My average over that distance has been about 10 hours and 20 minutes…with the cutoff time of 11 hours (now 12 hours). 70% of a field of about 12,000 runners finish after 10 hours.
My weight training has been a key factor in keeping me virtually injury free throughout my entire cardio life, besides maintaining a vital strength. I will not miss a session!
Clarence, I find this all fascinating…and thank you for being the only world class lifter/bodybuilder who has highlighted his cardio connection, and trains that way.
I realize this is out of a particular format. I apologize, but you certainly do not have to use it on Success Stories…If you do just use what you wish.
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For reasons we don’t recall, the photo was misplaced and this wonderfully detailed recitation of Richard’s practically super-human—and relentless—training and competition regimen never found its way onto our Success Stories page. (Roberta tells us that he continued to lift and run every day.)
Richard and I did continue to communicate regularly until a few weeks before his untimely death.
He moved to the US during that time and continued his career as a personal trainer in Indiana and Georgia.
The last stop gave us another opportunity to put him on our Success Stories page, and tell our visitors about his success with a very special client. You can read all about it—and see how young and vibrant Richard continued to look—in our Success Stories (15):
As you can see, Richard had a unique ability to adjust to the special needs of his clients. He succeeded where other trainers might have given up on meeting the needs of clients. He found inspiration in their success.
Our last few email exchanges were about another move he was contemplating. Excited about the possibility of moving to the Southwest, he was weighing the offerings of Arizona and New Mexico. He was very attracted to the mountain country near Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The next email we received was from Roberta telling of his shocking—practically incomprehensible—passing.
The world has lost a great and amazing man. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Roberta, his 16-year-old daughter who still resides in South Africa, and everyone who was privileged to know him.
Wherever you are, Richard, keep training and doing what gave your life meaning.
May 1, 2019
Ripped Enterprises, P.O. Box 51236, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87181-1236
Copyright © 2019 Clarence and Carol Bass. All rights reserved.