Fit at Any Age: Bettendorf Bix Runner, Cross-Fitter Inspires with No Excuses

“Beat the Elite” runner Bob Beardsley, Bettendorf crosses the finish line ahead of the elite runner, thanks to successful knee surgery from ORA Orthopedics.

Running the Quad City Times Bix 7 is an achievement all its own. Running it 37 times in a row (one year on crutches) is another matter. Ask 50-year-old Bob Beardsley how many more times he plans to run it and he’ll chuckle.

“Age is just a number,” the Bettendorf resident and Deere employee replies.

“I intend to stay active for the rest of my life. It’s not unusual to see runners and senior athletes in all kinds of sports competing well into their 70s.”

Bob’s fierce competitive spirit has stayed strong for decades, and he’s managed to stay focused and positive as a competitor his entire life.

“I started running when I was 13 in cross country and track, but for the last 30 years, I only run the Bix and Crossfit five to six times per week.”

As any weekend warrior or competitive athlete knows, with intensity comes the risk for injury, and Bob is no exception.

During a local competition, Bob fell off an 8-foot ramp on an obstacle course. He tore his ACL, sustained a surface fracture on his femur, and suffered 4 tears in his meniscus.

“My knee felt like it exploded when I landed on it!”

Adding insult to the injury was that the next month, he was planning on maintaining his Bix running streak.

Dr. Suleman Hussain, ORA Orthopedics
Dr. Suleman Hussain, ORA Orthopedics

ORA Sports Medicine Surgeon, Dr. Suleman Hussain, recalls Bob’s goal, despite the damage to his knee.

“Bob’s injury occurred just before the Bix 7. He couldn’t bear any weight and suffered significant swelling. The MRI showed a complex tear of the meniscus and an ACL tear.”

Dr. Hussain scheduled Bob’s outpatient surgery for July 18, just 11 days before the race. He reconstructed Bob’s knee and treated the meniscus using a minimally invasive outpatient procedure at the Crow Valley Surgery Center.

“Bob was home that afternoon, and came back to see me 3 days after surgery,” Dr. Hussain remembers. “He said he didn’t want to break his Bix streak – it was important to him and a huge part of his life. He found a way to do it on crutches.”

It wasn’t easy, but it was satisfying.

“Crutching up Brady Street was rough,” Bob says. “But it was good to cross the finish line with my family and friends!”

One year later, Bob had another personal first when he became the Isle of Capri Casino’s 2018 Bix “Beat the Elite Runner” competitor. It allowed Bob to start 3.4 miles ahead of the rest of the field. He was able to cross the finish line ahead of the elite runners, winning the $2500 challenge in 30 minutes, 45 seconds.

“Dr. Hussain and ORA physical therapist, Shari Huber, coordinated through that first year on the best plan to get me ready initially for the CrossFit Open and then shifted gears to Bix training when the ‘Beat the Elite’ challenge came up.

“It took a lot of work and a lot of time, but we got it done, and now a year later, I have no restrictions. I feel stable and strong.  I know I am not 100%, but I’m not too far off. I ‘m working back up to a 5K once a week and Crossfit six days a week. I can run on my knee and do every exercise in the gym.”

“Bob is a great example of how those 50 and over can be strong and active,” Dr. Hussain says.

“Orthopedic treatment options continue to allow more people to resume their favorite activities, no matter what their age. As surgeries and procedures get less invasive and as rehab becomes personalized, ORA can offer more successful interventions that can keep people active well beyond what used to be possible.”

Bob Beardsley

“Yes, older adults experience physical changes, but we can still maximize your potential. Each person has their individual goals, and we have more surgical and non-surgical treatments available: from typical cortisone injections to regenerative options that use stem cells, bone marrow injections, advanced pain treatments, better-engineered braces, and minimally invasive surgeries.

“I have been practicing orthopedics for 15 years, and the field of sports medicine has just grown significantly, providing more treatment options that allow people to resume their favorite activities, no matter what their age. We are still pushing the envelope.”

For Bob, the difference in treatments has made all the difference. “If a person follows a well-rounded fitness plan and pays attention to a nutritious diet, anyone can achieve their goals and stay strong. I plan to stay active for decades to come.”