Eighty-year-old doctor competes in triathlons

Dr. Frederic Silverblatt, who is 80 years old, starting taking part in triathlons about 10 years ago. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Frederic Silverblatt)

"I've always been an athlete,” Dr. Frederic Silverblatt, who is 80 years old, told NBC 10 News. “I was captain of my swimming team in high school and college in New York.”

That was well before Silverblatt became an infectious diseases specialist and the director of South County Hospital's Lyme Disease Clinic.

But he said he didn’t even start running marathons until he was an adult.

"I did the Boston three times," he said.

But then 65 rolled around and he got to thinking about how to ramp up his game. That’s when he decided to give triathlons a whirl.

"So, I bought a tri bike and it stood in my garage for five years," Silverblatt recalled.

He really didn’t start training on it until he was closing in on 70. Yet, he knew he needed to work on his cycling skills to compete as a triathlete.

"I started off working with Team In Training, (a program offered by) the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” he said. “Both my kids had Hodgkin's disease and I was sort of committed to the charity and they were good for training."

Meanwhile, Silverblatt was ramping up his game at the hospital. He helped diagnose two rare infections, getting a mention in the New England Journal of Medicine for diagnosing a young woman with a bacterial infection.

"It comes from rat urine," Silverblatt, pointing to the article.

He also helped diagnose a serious infection in a 93-year-old woman who he learned was exposed to flying squirrels. An article about it was published in the New York Times Magazine.

"And typhus came up, and so I sent the serum to the CDC and it came back highly positive,” he said.

Silverblatt went on to compete in his first triathlon when he was 70. Five years ago, he competed in Triathlon's most iconic event, the Ironman.

"It was a gruel because the temperatures were 95 degrees,” he said. "It's a two-and-a-half-mile swim. It's a 112-mile bike ride, and then a full marathon," said Silverblatt.

He came in fifth in his age group, making the awards podium.

"I treasure it,” he said.

His latest feat was the Ironman in New York City on July 16.

"I was the first and only (in the 80 and above group,)" he smiled while showing off his award.

Silverblatt said he plans on taking part in more triathlons, although he said his knees are complaining about all the running.

Silverblatt is a Navy veteran. Before he came to South County Hospital, he was the chief of medicine at the VA Medical Center in Providence. At the hospital, he is embarking on an exciting new tick study.

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