TRAINING: Frank Falappi at Emu Mountain. He will compete in the Ultra-Trail Australia running event in the Blue Mountains.
TRAINING: Frank Falappi at Emu Mountain. He will compete in the Ultra-Trail Australia running event in the Blue Mountains. Patrick Woods

Ultra-trail competitor, 78, hopes to inspire others

RUNNING: Peregian Springs 78-year-old Frank Falappi hopes his 100km effort in the Blue Mountains inspires some seniors to be active.

He'll set off in the race on Saturday, after previous attempts in 2014 and 2016.

The first time he attempted the Ultra-Trail Australia he finished in 20hrs56min but last time he withdrew after 75km with an eye injury.

He's also done a variety of other long distance events in Australia and New Zealand but, surprisingly, Falappi's only been seriously walking and running since his early 70s, after years of cycling.

He thrives on being active.

"I could sit around and watch TV all day and just get fat and old and wrinkly and then just die tomorrow but that's not the way I want to live," he said.

"I want to do something and this is positive, it keeps me happy and you meet some wonderful people along the way."

He said he'd like to be an example to some of the elderly who have the potential to be active.

"I don't mind the challenge (of the events) but the main reason I started all of this was in the hope that I could influence more old people to get out and do something like this.

"Well not as much as this, but just 5km or 10km or something like that.

"It gives them something to do, instead of just sitting around waiting to die. That's not my idea of life.

"I hope it does move a few long."

Falappi's wife Marilyn will attempt the 22km event at Katoomba, which is held on Friday.

She was the one who initially encouraged him to start walking when he had a shoulder injury.

He started with small walks around Nelson Bay near Newcastle, which led to 20km runs and then long distance trail events.

They moved to the Sunshine Coast last year and he's enjoyed making the most of the region's landscape.

He's run up the range to Montville and is a regular at Emu Mountain and Noosa Hill.

Falappi missed last year's edition of the Ultra-Trail Australia, when he was doing the Six Foot walking track from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves.

But he was challenged by a friend to have another tilt this year so he's back. He's keen to give the clock a shake too.

He said he's able to take on the events because of commitment and optimism.

"I train and think positive, that's all."