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Road Races at Age 70+

There may be certain negatives to reaching age 70, but it's also a great time to consider entering road races again. The 70-and-over age category has far fewer entrants, mainly by attrition, so the chances for a high placement within this age group are greater than ever before. 

June 2009: I ran the Chatham Harbor Run once more, with high hopes for a top-three finish in my new age group, 70-79 which, in the past, has had as few as no entrants at all and a maximum of five. Training included some serious hill-work back in Newton, so that the hills on the Chatham course would be less tough. In the race, I achieved my personal objective of coming in at under an hour, or 59:43. But wouldn't you know it - this time there were nine entrants in the 70-79 age category, so it meant finishing fifth. I must have been too swift for my personal photographer, so the picture shows my back with the butterflies on the shirt as I near the finish line.

[Click on an image to enlarge]

Pinning on number 130.

The "sprint" to the finish.

November 2009: Toward the end of summer I discovered that there was going to be a 13.1 mile road race within Newton, the Chilly Half Marathon. How many 70-and-over runners are likely to sign up for this race? Besides, it's practically in my back yard, at one point passing within 0.1 mile of our house. What to do but to register immediately? When I started running parts of it, I found that some sections were fairly hilly, so that this would require some serious training. Living so close to the course allowed me to run all of it a few times, starting at the 6-mile mark and then finishing there. 

The organizers posted lots of information so by race time I knew that there was only one other entrant in the 70-and-over age category, meaning an assured finish of at least second place. And that's what it was - second place in 2:19:19, and an award to go with that, a $10 gift card at Whole Foods.

[Click on the images at the right to enlarge.]

Beginning of the race
(no, I'm not leading)

End of the race
(it feels so good to stop)

June 2010: This time it's a 10k road race on June 13 right here in Newton. When I pick up my race number, I ask how many other entrants there are in the 70 and over age category; I find out from Amy of the helpful staff that there's only one other entrant. 

On race day it's gray, damp and moderate temperature. Full of hope I run the race in 1:03:20.3 (yes, it's that precise at the end) only to find out that it's good for second place again. The first place finisher had a superb time of 50:23.0 . Still, not bad, as I pick up my award (the first-place guy doesn't show - we'll find out why).

Beginning of the race
(no, I'm not leading)

Closing in on the finish line

After finishing
Next day the results and lots of pictures from the race are posted. With some curiosity I look for the first-place finisher by the bib number 470, and see that he's probably the best-looking 72-year-old I've ever seen. In fact, he looks like someone in his late twenties! A bit of googling shows that to be so. My guess is that there was a data entry error that turned a birth year of say, 1987, into 1937. 

I turn to my good friend Amy to help fix the mix-up, and some days later, it is in fact corrected - Number 470 is now listed with age 31. And so I did actually finish first in my age group, and in 319th place in the over-all race results.

[Click on the images to enlarge.]

#470 - that "72-year-old"

November 2010: It's time again for the Chilly Half-Marathon (13.1 miles) in Newton. I registered very early, and received race number 25 this time. It's a tough, hilly course, so I train often over a particularly hilly section during summer and fall. Sometime before the race I found out in a very roundabout way that last year's winner in my age group (when I finished second) won't be competing this year. 

On race day, the temperature is cool and pleasant, and the race goes well. The hills take their toll, but I come in at 2:19:00 (adjusted for crossing the starting line), and then look for the posting of finishing times. I see the 1 for first place in the 70-and-over age category on the list! Then it's just waiting a while for the awards ceremony and a well-deserved prize. 

It was good for 789th place out of 904 overall. Click on the images below to enlarge.

        A serious runner near the start

At 5.5 miles, after a water break, 
close to home (Harvard Street)

Race done - with my support group

June 5, 2011: The Newton 10k road race again. I had trained well, but a 10-day vacation trip to London seemed to take the edge off that - two runs in the week before the race felt pretty poor. Race day was perfect, sunny and low 50's, and the run went surprisingly well. When the race results were posted, I was first in the 70-99 age group and, in fact, the only one in it; in short, I was the oldest person in the race. The time was 1:03:14.7 (chip time), good for position 361 out of 438. And the prize was a $50 gift card! 

Nov. 13, 2011: Ran the Newton Chilly Half-Marathon, for the third year in a row, with another low number (#43) for having registered early. With another fine day for a race, I ran comfortably and finished in 2:25:39.1 (love the precision of chip timing!), slower than I had hoped for. When I looked at the results, I saw myself listed in 9th place in the 60-and-over category. Well, I thought, maybe they changed from having a separate 70-and-over, and went home. I looked back at the race announcement and, sure enough, they had shown a 70-and-over category there. I got in touch with the race organizer, who agreed, and so I did get a corrected listing of first in 70-and-over as well as some prizes. 

That now makes it four straight races placing first in the 70-and-over age group (albeit against limited on-road competition). 

For the results, see 2011 Chilly Half-Marathon. Placed 1021 out of 1115 finishers, 433 out of 462 men, and 1 out of 2 in 70-and-over.

June 10, 2012: Another Newton 10k with number 136. A pleasant run, trading places along the route with a younger woman runner several time, then finishing with a good kick, as a veteran runner should. This time the race attracted a number of "ringers" age 70-and-over, five who finished with serious times of 50-52 minutes. I finished with a chip time of 1:06:05.3, placed 881 out of 989 overall, 483 out of 502 men, and 7 out of 8 in 70-and-over. No prize this time - see race results

Nov. 12, 2012: My fourth straight year in the Newton Chilly Half-Marathon, number 114 in your program. I was one of five entrants in the 70-and-over age group, ran comfortably, but finished in 2:30:17, which was slower than I wanted. Still, two of the five entrants didn't show, so I did get a third place prize. 

For the results, see 2012 Chilly Half-Marathon. Placed 998 out of 1088 finishers, 415 out of 435 men, and 3 out of 3 in 70-and-over.

Click on the image for a full-size picture. Even though I'm smiling (a rare occurrence during a race), no, I'm not leading it!
June 2, 2013: Another Newton 10k, on a summery day, clear sky and warm tending toward hot. Amazingly, I had number 114 again. I was one of four entrants in the 70-and-over age group, took account of the temperature and finished in 1:13:15, a pretty slow time but good enough for third place out of four in the 70-and-over category. 

For the results, see 2013 Newton 10k. Placed 618 out of 648 finishers, 271 out of 278 men, and 3 out of 4 in 70-and-over.

Click on the image for a full-size picture. I call it "the last step" because that red line is the finish mat. It was a good day to be minimally dressed.

November 9, 2013: Time for the Chilly Half-Marathon again, my fifth consecutive entry. The weather is close to ideal, cool with a mist in the air and only a light breeze. Did number 711 portend good luck? Actually, I was happy to even be trying it, with a cranky knee and a sore thigh that prevented a lot of training runs. It was the only time I looked forward to uphills because they were easier on the knee and thigh. The 5.7 mile mark was the decision point for continuing since that was just down the street from home. 

But everything held up, and I finished in the very slow time of 2:40:09, and wishing that the race had been a mile shorter. Still, that was good enough for second place out of two in the 70-and-over age bracket (other entrants did not show). Also, I was the oldest person in the race by five years! 

For the results, see 2013 Chilly Half-Marathon.  Placed 1172 out of 1206 finishers, 464 out of 471 men, and 2 out of 2 in 70-and-over.

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Updated Oct. 7, 2017