Mary Scoggins would make an energetic 20-year-old envious.
Some years back, the Annapolis grandmother of seven hiked 50 miles along the C&O Canal in less than 20 hours to celebrate her 50th birthday. And now that she's about to turn 70, she's going on a 343-mile, four-day bicycle trip from North Carolina to Washington to mark the occasion.
Scoggins has pledged to raise $17,000 for the June 19 Washington, D.C., AIDS Ride to benefit Food & Friends and the Whitman-Walker Clinic, two HIV/AIDS-related services.
"I can't even keep up with her," said her 45-year-old daughter Sandy Alan, who, along with two siblings, presented Scoggins with a new road bike for Mother's Day.
"She's always been really active, so she saw this ride as a personal challenge and also an opportunity to raise money for a very worthy cause."
Scoggins has been training for the ride since January by squeezing hourlong indoor cycling exercises and grueling training rides through different parts of Maryland into her full schedule.
She still holds a full-time job as vice president of a trade-show business, of which daughter Alan is president.
"I don't like thinking about the idea of retirement," said Scoggins, an Arkansas native who looks nowhere near her age. "I'm not trying to break any stereotypes for older people, I just happen to be the way that I am."
Friends and family say Scoggins was always the brave mother who would take the Girl Scouts on camping trips and hikes through the wilderness. She was notorious, her children say, for taking the family ice skating and wanting to stay longer than anyone else.
Distance swimmer, tennis player, hiker -- Scoggins seems to have done it all. Fairly late in life, too.
"The more sitting around you do, the shorter your life is going to be," Scoggins warned. "One thing that made me more conscious of trying to stay regularly active is that I had a little heart scare four years ago. I was on the verge of a heart attack.
"Since then, it's been all about nutrition and exercise. I'm probably healthier now than I've ever been.
"I'm really excited about this trip," she continued, talking about pedaling 100 miles a day, then camping out overnight. "This is something I can do for fun but also a lot of good for others."
So far, Scoggins has raised about $600 to donate to the event.
Longtime friend Jane Capps of Greenville, N.C. is confident that Scoggins, whom she calls "gutsy" and "determined," will be successful.
Capps remembers the early morning jogs and walks Scoggins used to drag her on, regardless of the weather. The 59-year-old woman, who hiked the C&O Canal with Scoggins 20 years ago, will join her friend for the bike trip.
"I said to Mary that this is so neat that we're getting together again after 20 years to do this ride," Capps said. "It's a great way to cap off our adventures.
"You know what she said to me?" Capps said, laughing. " 'What do you mean, Jane? We're just getting started.' "
Anyone interested in making a donation can call Scoggins at 410-267-7007.
Pub Date: 5/12/97