Mature Runner: New Over 70 WR Quietly Set A Few Years Ago & Other Musings…
By David Summerfield
I’m at it again…and another marathon WR goes to Jeannie Rice at the Chicago Marathon, which keeps allowing (facilitating) world records to be set. Yes, this is 4-years old news, but I keep digging up new records. This is the race Brigid Kosgei (see article 2 months ago) ran in a 2:18:35 (getting ready to break Paula Radcliff’s WR of 2:15 in 2019. And, as you might remember, she took another shot at Paula’s record, and ran a 2:14:04 the next year, again in Chicago).
(picture/article by Sarah Lorge Butler – Runners World – Oct 12, 2018)
Back to Jeannie Rice, of Mentor, OH, 25 miles east of Cleveland. She was a 70-year old, and is having the time of her life (pun) right now. I always wonder how on Earth these records keep getting smashed. Jeannie is a realtor (now part-time), going around selling properties, and at 70 – is faster than any other 70-year old. What? My 1st question is why is Jeannie still a realtor….maybe once a realtor, always a realtor? 2 days after her WR, she was back at work (in her realtor heels) wrote Sarah Butler of Runners World. She came to the USA from
Korea as a 19 year-old, and didn’t start running until feeling “chubby” after a trip to see relatives in Korea. She was 34 then. She wanted to lose weight (ever heard that before?…I can relate 🙂 That’s when she found out she could run pretty fast, and started winning local races. From the article, it is VERY clear she is competitive, and got used to winning her age division…and that was 36 years ago. She admits to escaping the brutal Ohio winters by going to Florida for 5 months (all right, she’s probably not selling too many houses in Florida). She started out with a 3:45 marathon after starting running for only a year. That was followed by a 3:16 marathon – I guess she found out she really really loved to run. And I thought I was obsessed: by 2018, she had run 116 marathons, and wanted to win her division in all the world’s major races (Great Wall of China, New Zealand, Prague, Paris, London, Madrid, Dublin, and Iceland). From the Runners World article by Sarah Butler: “Rice makes no concessions to her age. ‘I don’t feel 70 at all,’ she said. ‘It’s too bad the number is there. I’d rather be 50. I’m sure the time will come. I’m probably not going to be able to run like this when I’m 80.’” (Poor Jeannie – is it okay for me to say that?)
(I love the fact that one of my marathon heroes, Joan Benoit Samuelson, was the only female who beat her in Chicago – as a 61-year old – and she ran a 3:12:13. Here’s a picture of Joanie doing “speedwork” at a 5km as a prep for Chicago:
Joanie as a 60-year old “pinterest.com”
Most of you won’t remember my article maybe 20 years ago about my running along a little road on an early Sunday morning near Falmouth, Maine. I was visiting my sister, doing my regular weekend Long Run of the week. I caught up to 2 runners, and they were having a great conversation. They were cool with me running with them. It turns out it was Joan running with her father. (I felt like I had been graced by the gods!)
Back again to Jeannie. After her 3:27:50 in 2018, she entered the BMW Berlin Marathon the next year (I guess Berlin wants to sell more BMWs, or give them to the winners so they don’t have to run anymore?), and she ran a 3:24:38. I believe that’s still the record. While trying to better that, in 2021, she did come in 2nd behind her fiercest competitor Yuko Gordon (70-74 age group!) in a race I had never heard of before. Amby Burfoot (longtime Runners World editor-in-chief and Boston Marathon winner – 1966 – in 2:22) wrote in Outside Magazine about the Abbott World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group World Championships held in conjunction with the London Marathon. Whoa, whoa, whoa. This begs another digression:
Really? They’re sponsoring a world age-group running championship? What are they peddling? I looked them up, of course. And their yearly income is a cool $36 billion, employing a cooler 113,000 employees, and they make Ensure**, Pedialyte, Similac, and untold other medical products. Founded in 1888, they’ve kept up with the times, it seems. So, it looks like this business of running world records in your age group has hit the big time. The 70-74 marathon title was won in 3:25:30 by Yuko Gordon, who finished 34th in the 1984 Olympic Marathon. (More recently, Gordon ran 3:19:37 two years ago in Berlin when she was 68.) Gordon turned 70 last February. I guess digressions is the theme of this article. Did you happen to notice that Yuko Gordon ran the 1984 Olympic Marathon? Hmmm, and who WON that “jog in the park” … of course, none other than Joan Benoit Samuelson (2:24:52).
Again, “back to Jeannie”…again! With a natural talent and a competitive streak Jeannie averages 50 miles a week all-year round and increases that to 70 miles when she has a marathon in her schedule. I have to keep asking myself, “David, do you realize this is a 73 year old talking?” I ask that because I am a 74 year old, and I’m certainly NOT out there just doing the basic “maintenance” 50 mile weeks, and upping them to 70 the weeks before I go for records at the Boston Marathon. Sheesh.
(Photo: courtesy Jeannie Rice )
**Did anyone notice this little asterisk in the text? It is another digression, a digression inside a digression, and that is probably going too far! So here’s a “footnote” (does that make it feel any better?): While on the subject of Abbott Laboratory’s Ensure, here’s the comment. While in WalMart yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of buying my yearly supply of Ensure, which is used on my once-a-year marathon walk which is soon to happen. This all started because of Franklin Coles. If you don’t know him, you should.
(Photo: courtesy Jeannie Rice)
He was a past president and super-active member of the BSWD. He valiantly trained for many 100-mile races (notably the BigHorn 100). I emulated his abilities, and casually asked him how on earth he could do those races…what did you eat and drink? His answer has stayed with me, and I still use what he said. Those little bottles of Ensure can be found in the pharmacy section of every grocery store and are packed with the basic ingredients for those who can’t stomach regular food. Yes, I had to get over the feeling that I was buying them for my aging parents who had to be bottle fed in their old age. I down one bottle every 6 miles or so. And his other suggestion was a 16.9 ounce bottle of Coke. Frankly (pun), I reserve that for after the finish line. I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful July full of summertime running 🙂