Sports Columns

January 6, 2013

Doug Hawley: Age should be no barrier

From year to year, the running fraternity adds new disciples to the sport. As runners bound into the infancy of 2013, not surprisingly, there are youngsters — including many high school, middle school and elementary school students — competing for the first time.

However, do not dispel the possibilities of senior citizen-age performers achieving initial rewards. One man with area ties did just that in the latter part of 2012.

Dr. Gary Edgmon, an orthodontist who keeps office hours twice a week in Dalton, competed as a distance runner for the first time by completing the Space Coast Marathon on Nov. 25 in Cocoa, Fla. The race is run near Kennedy Space Center, hence its name.

“It was my 60th birthday, which made it special,” Edgmon said. “I’d only been running for nine months. I learned a lot from runners in that time.”

Edgmon finished his marathon debut in 4 hours and 57 minutes.

“I lost 15 pounds in the training,” said Edgmon, who carried 189 pounds on a 6-foot-2 inch frame on race day. “I ran a half marathon as part of the training.”

He had more than the customary elation of finishing his first 26.2-mile race.

“I was able to push two grandchildren in a carriage over the last mile,” Edgmon proudly related in regard to 20-month-old Allison Littrell of Nashville, Tenn., and 8-month-old Emily Richards of Mount Airy, N.C., who happily enjoyed the free ride.

Two daughters, Lori Littrell and Sherri Bakland — who reside in Nashville and Chattanooga, respectively — completed the accompanying half marathon.

“The event in general was just a family thing,” an elated Edgmon said.

Edgmon had run previously during his high school days at Collegedale Academy, near Chattanooga, but not in distance events — he competed in the 400-meter run. When he went on to college at Southern Adventist University and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, he no longer participated in athletics.

This spring, Edgmon plans to enter the Music City Marathon in Nashville. His aforementioned daughters likely will join him once again by competing in the accompanying half marathon.

Edgmon and his wife, Janice — who provides vocal moral support for the running family — live in Ooltewah, Tenn. He also keeps office hours in Calhoun, where some 30 years have been spent caring for aging parents.

Although a marathon might not be on everybody’s bucket list, runners would do well to set their goals for this new year. But please consider your activity with common sense.

Yes, a world’s record in your favorite event would be great, but how realistic are we talking? That adage persists, “There’s a difference in optimism and realism.”

You might have a personal goal for posting your best time for a particular distance. It could be to beat last year’s time in a race.

Then again, you might get the urge to be the best volunteer in the area. Races cannot occur without the unheralded volunteers.

n The Carpet Capital Running Club will have its annual banquet at 6 p.m. on Jan. 26 at Dalton Golf and Country Club.

Runner of the Year honors, based on designated races in the past year, will be given for several age groups. New officers also will be cited. Music is to be provided by Bruce Arledge.

The Chattanooga Track Club, which includes some area residents, will have its annual banquet two weeks earlier on Jan. 12. The Doubletree Hotel on Chestnut Street in downtown Chattanooga provides the setting.

This is the first time in three years that the two running clubs will not conflict on their banquet dates.

Doug Hawley has been a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years. You can write to him at dhawley@optilink.us.

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