Turning 55 was a big moment in John Elliott's athletic life.
It meant he was old enough to compete in the Maryland Senior Olympics.
Elliott took full advantage of his first appearance in the games by winning everything he entered -- the five- and 10-kilometer and one-mile cycling events and the five- and 10-kilometer and 1,500-meter runs.
In the 1,500, his final race, his victory margin of 50 meters served as testimony to his domination of the 55-59 age group in all six events.
Elliott, chief of the Conflict Analysis Center of the Army Concepts Analysis Agency in Bethesda, was one of the standouts in the 14th annual Maryland Senior Olympics that completed a two-day run yesterday at Towson State. Almost 1,550 men and women from 55 to 96 competed in sports ranging from archery to volleyball.
"The participants were down about 100 in this 'off' year," said Bob Ziegler, chairman of the Maryland Senior Olympics Commission. "The National Senior Games are every other year, and they were just held in June in Baton Rouge [La.]. Competition in next year's state games will be to qualify for the 1995 nationals in San Antonio. So this was just for fun and frolic in Maryland, not to go anywhere."
Elliott, a Columbia resident, has been running for 40 years but didn't compete in his first triathlon until the early 1980s.
"It seemed like a fun thing to do, something other than running," Elliott said. "The best I can say is that I finished it. I had a lot of trouble with swimming. You know how they say you should practice what you don't do well? I've found a few of those."
The state games was ideal preparation for Elliott for the Duathlon World Championships next Saturday in Arlington, Texas. A member of Team USA, he will compete in the 55-59 age group in a five-kilometer run, a 40K bike ride and another 5K run.
The first two world duathlons were in Palm Springs, Calif., the third last year in Frankfurt, Germany, where Elliott finished in the top 15.
A typical training week for Elliott includes 60 kilometers of running and 200 of cycling. Business trips, such as the two of two weeks each he took during the summer to Korea, play havoc, he notes wryly, with his training schedule as well as his body clock.
"I took my bike in a box on the plane on the second trip," Elliott said. "I did about 100 miles over there, through Seoul's traffic and over the hilly terrain. The Korean taxi drivers were well behaved."
Dottie Brill, 68, another Columbia resident, also made a clean sweep, capturing the 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter runs. In the 400, her time of 1 minute, 21.9 seconds eclipsed by a tenth of a second her national record established in June in Baton Rouge.
"I have a coach now, Charlie Schumaker of Wilde Lake High," Brill said. "He has me on interval training and wearing spiked shoes for the first time. This has helped."
Brill's husband, Clark, won a few golds in swimming during the games. At the nationals in Baton Rouge, the Brills' finishes were like steps -- Dottie's first, second and third in the 400, 800 and 100, and Clark's fourth, fifth and six in the 50 butterfly, 100 freestyle and 50 freestyle.