Oldest Boston Marathoner Kicks Our Excuses in the Butt

running shoesThe next time you're sifting through your umpteen million excuses to the skip the gym, think of Clarence Hartley, and get thou ass in gear. Hartley just finished the Boston Marathon on Monday, and at 82, he was the oldest to cross the finish line.

Not only has he reached an age at which many are dead, sick, or content sitting in their rocking chairs, but he's also a two-time cancer survivor. He's fought and conquered both non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer, but nothing has stopped him from putting his health and fitness first.

Runner's World recently did an inspirational interview in which the former lieutenant colonel told how at 68 he decided to take up running. "It looked fun, so I decided to try it."


Since then, he's run more than 150 races, but this is the first time he ran Boston. He planned to do so earlier, but his cancers got in the way. On Monday, nothing did, and he finished strong with a time of 4:26:25 -- well ahead of plenty of younger runners.

This quote from him says it all for me: "It's fun being old when you're healthy and in shape."

Life in general is more fun when you're healthy and in shape. Everyone has challenges -- both mental and physical -- that can get in the way of our best fitness goals, but most of them can be overcome.

I have a friend who recently underwent an amazing physical metamorphosis, an amazing life metamorphosis really. She was out of shape, gaining weight by the year, and aging her young body way too quickly. It hurt me to see her like this, and I and others tried to offer encouragement and advice, but weight is a touchy matter.

Then about a year ago, something in her changed. All the excuses she previous put up were put away, and slowly but surely she has emerged into a strong, exuberant picture of health. She put on a pair of running shoes and kept going. In two weeks, she'll run her first marathon, when last year she probably couldn't have gone a block.

It can be done. That's what her story tells me every time I want to start walking during one of my runs, and that's what Clarence Hartley's should tell us all about life. Work, family, illness, financial problems, and a host of other issues will be thrown at us in life, but it's up to us to throw them aside and put our health first. Because really, if we don't have our good health, little else really matters.

Does Clarence Hartley's story inspire you?

Image via Josiah McKenzie/Flickr

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