July 14, 2010

Doug Hawley: Age is no deterrent

As runners prepare for the Dalton Half Marathon, slated Oct. 16, they can take stock in the adage, “Age is a state of mind.”

Some well-meaning friends might even suggest to them, “Aren’t you a little old for such an undertaking?” After all, a 13.1-mile race should not be taken lightly.

In Major League Baseball, a 38-year-old player is considered old — consider Atlanta Braves’ third baseman Chipper Jones, a sure-fire Hall of Famer —and the same basically can be theorized for the NFL and NBA.

Some years ago in San Francisco, waiter Larry Lewis ran six miles to his restaurant. After work, he ran the same distance back home.

Lewis was 106 years old! That’s no misprint — a century plus six years. Some people might have wondered if he was a descendant from those written about in the book of Genesis.

Runner’s World magazine reports in its July edition that 87-year-old Harriette Thompson, grandmother of 10, has run 11 consecutive San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons. Her personal record is 6 hours, 7 minutes.

Thompson is a professional concert pianist. In her spare time, she takes yoga, water aerobics and art classes.

“It gets harder to run 26.2 miles at my age,” she said, “but I’m inspired by the memory of friends I’ve lost.”

It was not until 1984 that Olympics officials in track and field allowed the alleged “weaker sex” to run farther than a 1,500-meter run, which is slightly under a mile. Joan Benoit showed her positive state of mind by winning a marathon in those Los Angeles games in 2:24.52. As the last American to win Olympic gold in the 26.2-mile event, she averaged a robust 5:31 per mile.

Northwest High graduate Dee Goodwin and Murray County High product Belinda Young, both in their 40s, continue to finish ahead of most males in area foot races.

Yes, females have come a long way since half-court basketball.

It came as a surprise recently to learn that 2009 U.S. half marathons attracted more females than males: 57 percent to 43 percent.

On behalf of the males, I am not complaining.

As runners continue preparations, may they use the aforementioned for a “positive state of mind.”

In advance of the first national Dalton Half Marathon on Oct. 16, this is the third in a 16-part series of instructional columns for those running their first 13.1-mile event. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, was a top 10 percent finisher in each of five Boston Marathons from 1976 to 1981. You can write to him at

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    February 3, 2013

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