Introducing the Age-Old Runners Series Version 2.0!

Welcome to the Age-Old Runners series version 2.0!

By on June 2, 2021 | Comments

Welcome to the Age-Old Runners series version 2.0!

The original goal of this series was to explore runners’ potential as we age. We attempted to ask and answer questions like, can you run faster after the age of 45? For how long can you expect to improve? How does the number of years you’ve been running affect your potential? Are there commonalities between older runners who are performing close to their potential? Is there a magic elixir they’re all using?

iRunFar's Age-Old Runners series concept on a napkin

Some napkin ruminations about age and athletic potential. Photo: Liza Howard

Thus far in the Age-Old Runners series, we’ve interviewed 18 high performing runners aged 45 to 74, and published a beautiful photo gallery of hundreds more of you.

As the series went along, it became clear that:

  1. There is some stout age-group racing going on;
  2. Recognition of age-group performances is motivational and causes us to redefine what is possible; and
  3. We’re mostly in the dark about the outstanding performances and efforts within masters running in our community.
Nimiye Anthony

Nimiye Anthony. Photo courtesy of Nimiye Anthony.

We decided that we should get to work in better recognizing these runners, their performances, and their goals. Through this, the Age-Old Runners series version 2.0 was born! We hope that as you learn runners’ race stories, you’ll come to care about what’s going on in age-group racing. We plan to introduce you to a runner one month as they prepare for an upcoming race and, then, report on their race the following month. We’ll also try to highlight the age-group racing and adventuring that’s going on from month to month.

A note about who qualifies to be highlighted in this series: I’ve chosen to include runners ages 45 and up even though USA Track & Field (USATF) and the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) define masters runners as ages 35 and above. The choice is based on years of coaching conversations with runners in their forties telling me how they can’t do a certain race or a certain time because they’re too old now. Also, racing coverage really seems to decline starting after age 45. For the record, though, the choice is somewhat arbitrary and, lest anyone’s hackles are up, nobody is calling you old.

George Greco

George Greco. Photo courtesy of George Greco.

We’ll need your help to let us know who is doing what as we get to know this part of our community and create a fan base, so use the comments sections of these articles to leave us tips! We’ll see how this format goes, and I’ll depend on you all for suggestions as we go along. In the best of all possible worlds, we’ll continue to grow this coverage with time. Maybe we need to approach Epsom salts for sponsorship?

And, finally, we want you to know that we simply can’t cover every age-group runner at every race we highlight. This article would go on forever! But we’ll try hard to do age-group running right by highlighting trends and sharing information you might not be familiar with in this article each month.

Cheryl Miller

Cheryl Miller. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Miller.

Age-Old Runners May 2021 Racing Highlights

Here we share interesting timed-race format results from 3 Days at the Fair and the age-group records being chased there, stories of age-group runners increasingly taking on the rugged Quad Rock 50 Mile and 25 Mile, and age-group runners going the 250-mile distance at the first-year Cocodona 250 Mile. There’s a special surprise if you make it all the way to the end of this article!

3 Days at the Fair — Augusta, New Jersey

3 Days at the Fair took place at Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, New Jersey. Even though it’s called 3 Days at the Fair, the event holds races ranging from a marathon distance up to races 144 hours in length. (Yes, 144 hours is six days of running. That’s a thing.) I wanted to highlight this timed event both because there were some great performances by masters athletes and because I wanted to share how stout the age-group records are in these timed events.

Beth Pretti, who is 52 years old, was first female in the overall women’s race at the 12-hour event. She ran 59 miles. So good! I’m guessing you, like me, were unaware that the IAU women’s 50-54 age-group record for the 12-hour distance is about 82.15 miles (132.202 kilometers). Talk about goals!

Todd McAuley, also 52 years old, came in second in the overall men’s race by running 61 miles. The IAU men’s 50-54 age-group record is about 91.64 miles (147.480km). Think about that! When was the last time you ran over 90 miles in 12 hours?

In the 24-hour event, Mary Warts placed second female in the overall women’s race. She is 46 years old and ran a solid 109 miles. The IAU women’s 45-49 age-group record is about 158.64 miles (255.303km). Incredible. Suzanne Weightman, age 57, placed third while running 91 miles. That IAU record for the women’s 55-59 age group is a whopping 135.34 miles (217.811km). Goodness.

In the six-day event, Brad Compton, 66 years old, came in third in the overall men’s race, running 411 miles. What was your mileage last week? Those 411 miles give Bob the USATF men’s 65-69 age-group record, which had previously been held by Bill Heldenbrand since 2014.

Here are links to the USATF records for timed events as well as IAU world records.

Full results.

Bob Compton and Glenda Hernandez at the 2021 3 Days at the Fair

Brad Compton with Glenda Hernandez at the 2021 3 Days at the Fair where he ran the six-day event. Photo courtesy of Glenda Hernandez.

Quad Rock 50 Mile and 25 Mile — Fort Collins, Colorado

The rugged Quad Rock 50 Mile and 25 Mile out in Fort Collins, Colorado has a lot more grandmasters runners these days than when it started back in 2012. Grandmasters runners are 50 years old and older. (Dibs on this name for my blog reboot when I turn 50 in February.)

Ivan Rezucha ran the 50 miles and 11,000 feet of vert in 13:34:24. He’s 68 years old and already holds the fastest time for men’s runners ages 65-69, which he set in 2018 with a 13:01:49. Quad Rock currently only documents age-group records in 10-year increments, but based on your input earlier in this series, I’ll always try to break things down to five-year increments.

Sarah Bunting Lamos, age 46, ran the 50 miler in 10:57:13, less than 15 minutes off the fastest time for 45-49-year-old women and she placed in the top-10 overall women.

In the 25 miler, Wayne Coates, age 73, climbed the race’s 5,500 feet in 8:00:07. That is the fastest a man aged 70-74 years old has covered that route. Mary Gilbert, age 71, also set a new fastest time for the women’s 70-74 age group, running 12:05:39. Congratulations!

Full results.

Wayne Coates at the 2021 Quadrock 25 Mile. Photo courtesy of Wayne Coates.

Cocodona 250 Mile — Black Canyon City, Arizona

Pam Reed and Robert Pardy respectively set a high bar for the women’s and men’s 60-69 age-group records at the inaugural running of the Cocodona 250 Mile, which stretched across a wide swath of hot Arizona desert and mountains. Pam Reed, age 60, finished in 108 hours, 53 minutes and 13 seconds—that’s about four-and-half days of running—to set that women’s record. Robert Pardy, age 61, established the record for the men at 103:05:26.

Full results.

Robert Pardy at the 2021 Cocodona 250 Mile

Robert Pardy at the 2021 Cocodona 250 Mile. Photo courtesy of Robert Pardy.

Keys 100 Mile — Key West, Florida

And finally, because some of you asked, I was the first woman at the Keys 100 Mile. I’m 49—going on 109—and ran 17:49. I did not win the sunscreen-application competition. You can read my race report.

Full results.

Liza Howard's sunburn from the 2021 Keys 100 Mile

Liza Howard’s sunblock DNF. Photo: Eliot Howard

Call for Comments

  • Age-group runners, let us know what races you’re looking at this summer and how you do.
  • And, as mentioned, comment to let us know about other age-group runners who are pursing goals of all kinds.
Liza Howard
Liza Howard is a longtime ultrarunner who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She teaches for NOLS Wilderness Medicine, coaches, directs the non-profit Band of Runners, and drives her kids around in a minivan.