MANKATO – More than 500 participants from Minnesota and across the country will be in Mankato this week for the Senior Games, which take place Thursday through Sunday.
“It’s just a fun event that allows people to compete and get to know others interested in the same sport,” said Joy Leafblad, director of sports and special events for Visit Mankato.
Participants will compete to qualify for the Senior National Games, which will be held in Florida next spring.
“The top four participants from each age group for each sport qualify for the national championships,” Leafblad said. Age ranges start at 50 and go every four years.
There are 22 sports with 55 different events scheduled. For timetables and information: mnseniorgames.com.
“We are at 11 different locations in Mankato, between the school district, MSU, outdoor venues, archery range, WOW area, North Links (golf course) and Rapidan for cycling events” Leafbald said.
While most attendees are from Minnesota, many are from other states. “Their Senior Games were canceled (due to the pandemic) because they were scheduled for spring.”
While registration to participate is closed, people are invited to come and attend one of the events.
Leafblad said they are always looking for volunteers to help them, with volunteer information on the website.
The most popular sports are pickleball, with 130 participants, and athletics with 120 participants.
The swimming competition will have 40 participants while the various cycling events will attract around 70.
The Senior Games switch between Mankato and St. Cloud every two years. Mankato will host them this year and next.
Local officials say the games have an economic impact of several hundred thousand dollars in Mankato.
The Mankato Sports Commission and Visit Mankato initially sought to sponsor the games to help fill the void left when the Vikings’ training camp left Mankato.
The Senior Games were previously held in multiple cities, but an agreement has been made for St. Cloud and Mankato to host the event in the future.