Monday, August 3, 2015

Dead Tigers...and Ultrarunning

This year is the 45th anniversary of the Beaver Falls High School Class of 1970.  Our school mascot was a tiger named BFHS after the school acronym (and pronounced Biffis).   We were the Tigers.  Rah-rah!

Some classmates are planning a reunion this month.  I live out of the area (though still within the state of PA) and have not kept up with the class other than a couple close friends.  Turns out I cannot attend the reunion due to a previously scheduled vacation, but I had mixed feelings about attending anyway, as many of us do when it comes to reunions.

That said, I still find myself avidly reading all the emails about the gathering and have learned some stuff about people who were important to me from nearly half a century ago.

The point of this post is that the organizers have sent out a list of the deceased members of our high school class, and the list seemed long.  Shockingly LONG.  As I read the names I welled up in tears.

So the purpose of this post is to salute those dead Tigers.

Then the scientist in me thought, "Hey, we're now all about 63 years old.  What is the normal expectation for deaths among a graduating class of some 500 students born in 1952?"

So for this post I spent a lot of time poring over various actuarial tables and life expectancy charts.  The one at this link is about as good as any, I suppose, although it seems to read a couple of years shorter lifespan than some others.

Bottom line: when the BFHS Tigers in the class of 1970 were born in 1952 the lifespan for males was about 66 years and for females it was about 72 years.

A couple of years after high school graduation, when we reached age 20--and having survived infant mortality etc.--the respective lifespans were now 70 and 75.

Now that we are in our early 60s, the men can expect to live to age 76 and the women to age 79.

The number of deceased classmates is 48, although that's just the known ones.  Many people moved away to lives and places unknown.  They are off the reunion radar, so undoubtedly there are some more dead Tigers than listed.  How many more?  No way to tell.

And from the actuarial tables I just could not easily determine, of 500 mixed sex individuals born in 1952, how many should still be alive today.  So maybe 48+ dead is not a very high number at all.

It just seems that way...because the mental image I have of so many of the classmates from the deceased list is from when they were 18, young, vibrant, and alive in every sense of the word.

Rest in peace, dead Tigers.  And as an aside, I wonder how many of us ever ran an Ultra?  Statistically, there should have been a couple others besides me.

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