Fort Mill Times

Anne Springs Close, 87, begins 19th Ironman Challenge

Ready to roll: Matriarch of Fort Mill’s first family

IRON WOMAN: Anne Springs Close

Growing up, Anne Springs Close, now 87, once had a nanny who told her, “that being outdoors you have the sunshine; being indoors is sinful.”

That philosophy inspired Close. “I have that embedded in me,” she says.

The daughter of the Springs Industries textile giant and World War I combat pilot Elliott White Springs, Close recently began her 19th Ironman Challenge at the Greenway Recreation Complex that bears her name.

Always up for a challenge, Close is the only person to complete all of the 18 previous challenges. The event requires swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running/walking 26.2 miles over the course of 31 days in March.

“She is remarkable,” says Tammy Woods, director of recreation at the Complex. “It is really impressive and it’s kinda inspiring. She doesn’t stop. When she comes in here, it’s not slow; you almost have to jog to keep up with her.”

Close said she keeps doing the Ironman Challenge because she still can and would like to show the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to others. Last year, there were 75 participants in the event.

“It’s not a race,” she says. “It’s not to see who can finish first. Some people find the biking hard; I do. Other people find the swimming hard. I hope people get the idea that if you keep doing it (exercise), it will benefit you. You will be able to keep on doing the things you like to do.”

However, of the three legs of the Ironman, swimming is something that is routine to Close. She averages five days of swimming a week when she is in town and has logged more than 5,200 miles in the Complex pool since 1985.

“I hope to go for six [thousand miles],” she says. “I’m still counting. I try not to be obsessive about it, but it has become a habit. But if I am in Fort Mill, I am going to come out here (to the Complex) at least four times a week.”

Staying active is something Close tries to do year-round and not just in the pool. She has climbed Mount LeConte (6,593 feet) 40 times in the past 50 years, as well as scaling Mount Kilimanjaro (19,344 feet) on three separate occasions. She has even been bungee jumping in New Zealand.

Most recently she went skydiving with one of her granddaughters in Chester.

“It keeps me healthy,” she says. “I am able to do the things I like to do. I can still go on bike trips. I ride horses. If I wasn’t healthy I wouldn’t be able to do those things.”

Close, who has been coming to the Complex for 36 years, gushes on the benefits of the place.

“It is a wonderful facility,” she says. “There is something for everybody.”

However, she jokes that there is one place she stays away from at the Complex – the weight room.

“When I grew up ladies didn’t ‘perspire,’ let alone sweat,” Close joked.

Close credits the Complex and Greenway, with its winding trails and other amenities, for giving not just her, but the people of Fort Mill a place to come to live an active lifestyle.

“I would be miserable if I couldn’t be active,” she says. “That is why I keep doing this stuff.”