PROFILE: Charles Milliman ran 85 miles on his 85th birthday


Milliman ran 85 miles on his 85th birthday.
It didn't all happen in daylight.
(Sept. 2019) Chuck Milliman is not your average octogenarian. In fact, he’s probably not your average anything. On his 78th birthday he ran 78 miles. That was so much fun that he ran 80 miles on his 80th birthday, and this year ran 85 miles on his 85th birthday.  When he’s not running, he practices the pole vault in his backyard pit that he built with his son. A retired pastor from Sequim, WA, Milliman sometimes imagines what the geese and deer on his favorite loop are saying the umpteenth time he passes: “There he goes again, what a handsome man!”

Career/profession: After graduating high school in 1951 I took on odd jobs: construction worker, butcher, laying railroad ties, nothing took hold so I signed up for a college correspondence course in electronics, which ultimately led to a job with Boeing in Seattle, where I worked for five years. Along the way I married Shirley and had three kids.
In 1963, I enrolled in Warner Pacific College, a Christian liberal arts school in Portland, and was ordained in 1970, then was acting pastor at 4 different churches and retired in 1999.

When and why did you start running? I started running in 1973 with the crazy idea to run a marathon with my sons. We were all avid hikers and one day while out on Mt. Hood I met an old guy (probably 60 at the time) who mentioned he runs marathons. I thought if this old guy can do it, I can. I was 40 at the time.

My sons and I signed up for the 1973 Trails End Marathon in Seaside, Oregon.  Despite all the training, by mile 20 I was crying like a baby, cursing myself for signing up. I swore I would never do this again as I crossed the finish line in 3:59. The following morning, somewhat recovered, I became elated with my accomplishment and read a proverb from the Bible: “Weeping happens at night, Joy cometh in the morning.”

How much did you run in your peak years?  Into my 70s I ran three marathons a year and countless other 10Ks.


 Best performances or achievements? That would have to be my crazy birthday challenges--running my age in miles. When I ran 85 miles on my 85 birthday, it took 35 hours and 35 minutes. To last that long I trained to prepare my body and my mind for that long stretch of time. My marathon PR is 3:26.

 I also pole vault. At age 72, at the 2004 National Senior Games I vaulted over six feet taking first place. In 2017 at age 84 I vaulted over five feet to win a gold medal. I also competed in the high jump taking first place. I plan to keep competing in the 85-89 age group. I don’t think there’s anyone left in my age group so doing this is a no-brainer to win.

 And I am very proud of the fact that I have run marathons with my wife, my two sons, my daughter and son-in-law, my granddaughter and daughter-in-law.

Current training? As I have grown older my mileage per week is much less. But I do try to train for the distance that I am going to race. One reason for that is the motivation for getting out there and run is not as important as it once was. I still enjoy running but I found out that distance is not as important as it once was. I run my races now to at least stay close to last year’s runs.

Injuries/obstacles along the way? In 2001 at age 69 I underwent heart bypass surgery to correct two arteries that were 95 percent blocked. I didn’t run another marathon till 2007. But I always tell folks that the surgery wasn’t related to running, so I don’t count it as an injury. Then there was that hernia surgery in 2014. While recovering from that I signed up for a 50K trail run.

I haven’t been to a doctor in years, probably due to my Depression era mentality. Who has the time or money to go a doctor? I credit my injury-free running with not obsessing about time or distance. I just like to have fun with my running and truly believe that by surrounding myself with family and friends who run with me, that I don’t get any injuries. We are having too much fun. 

I don’t stretch or cross train and don’t even ask me about massages or gym memberships. A waste of time and money. Why go to a gym when I can hike and ride a bike in the beautiful Washington mountains?

 Are you bothered getting older and slower? No, it comes with age. During my 50s and 60s I felt fit and strong and had stiff competition throughout the decade. In my 70s I noticed the competition dropping off but some were still strong and fighting to the finish. The 80s showed a severe drop, not only in numbers of competitors but pace and agility. And now at 86, I struggle to keep a 15:00 minute pace. But, I’m still out there and feel great. After 64 marathons I have nothing more to prove.
Life in the camper on an 85-mile day ... and night.
It took Milliman 35 hours overall.

As long as my body can stay upright I’ll compete. I do not run because I must. I do not run for other people.  I run because I can. I run for the sheer enjoyment of being able to run. And I thank God every day for my health and that I can still run.

Has your diet changed? I eat whatever Shirley makes me, which is usually oatmeal for breakfast, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, and whatever she has in the refrigerator for dinner. My diet has not changed over the years. 

A favorite running quote?  “I don’t run because I have to, I run because I can!” I do not recall where I read this but it was many years ago and it is still my favorite.

Three tips for other prospective lifetime runners? My advice to those who are just starting out to run or do any exercise to become fit is to start out slow and do workouts every other day in very small intervals for a couple of months. Always take Sunday or the day you wish off. The body will then adjust to the exercise.  Keeping fit is as important to our overall health as anything that we can do to live a long and enjoyable life.

 What has running contributed to your life and the aging process?   I believe that running has helped me very much in the aging process. At 86 and soon to be 87 I can still do jogging, hiking, gardening and cut my own wood for the winter. Still think clearly, but that might be debated. Have good vision. And am in great health.

You won’t find me in a rocking chair any time soon. I simply don’t think like an old man.

 What is the biggest lesson you have learned from running?  The biggest lesson that I have learned from my running is to be consistent. Be consistent in faith, work, love for people, love for family. There is no easy way to accomplish goals or dreams in life. 

Running has helped me to know that when I face a difficult task in life, I can tough it out until the problem is solved. I have been learning this for 86 years or at least for the 41 years that I have been running. So, it is not an overnight solution or answer but an ongoing living daily quest.
My final thought: “Keep on believing. Keep on moving."

PROFILE--In her 50 years of running, Mary Etta Boitano Blanchard has done it all


(Sept. 2019) Fifty-six year old Mary Etta Boitano Blanchard has had one of the most amazing and distinguished running careers in the world. She finished her first marathon as a 6-yr old in 1969, and still holds the world best marathon times for a 6-yr old and 7-yr-old (4:27:32 and 3:57:42), according to the Association of Road Race Statisticians. By the age of 9, she had improved to a 3:01:15. Despite the early start, Blanchard has never lost her appreciation for running. She's still logging 40+ miles a week, and has run a 1:52 half marathon this year. "I run because it is a healthy choice for me," she says.

Career/profession: I am a retired RN who worked in a hospital on a medical surgical floor in SF. Currently, I share most of my time with my 96 year old momma, who loves to garden and take walks, my husband, Richard, my sons, Johnny and RB, and dogs, Gozer, Sweet Pea, & Speedy. 

When did you start running and why? I started running with my family in the summer 1967, in San Francisco. We started running because

PROFILE--Marie Wickham, now 64, has been running "almost always"


(Sept. 2019) Marie Wickham is a frequent participant in New York Road Runner races, and marathons in general all over the world. She has even run Comrades in South Africa. At 64, she can still crack 8:00-minute-pace in a half marathon. Although she has run for as long as she can remember, Wickham didn’t start racing (and winning) till she was in her 30s. She lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with easy access to her beloved Central Park. 

Career/Profession: Massage therapist. Former career at Chase JP Morgan bank.

When did you start running, and why?  I had to laugh at this one. To be honest that is like asking me what date I started brushing my teeth. I feel like I always ran. I grew up in California and we were a very active family. I would run with my father in the mornings before school, and some days we would run on the beach and jump in the ocean afterwards. I would have to say he was my early inspiration for running.   
I didn't start racing until my 30's so I didn't really train until then. I started building up mileage to prepare for my first marathon and didn't think too much about speed. Later, I slowly tried speed work, and while I didn't enjoy it that much, I could see that it helped. When I started setting goals for myself like a 20 minute 5k, 40 minute 10k,  1:30 half marathon and 3:10 marathon I realized I needed a more organized training schedule.  I was on a Moving Comfort running team and our coach at the time, Ed Stickles, used Jack Daniels Running Formula. That really clicked for me. 
   
Guess the location. And if you guess anything
other than Rome ... shame on you.
How much did you run in your peak years? Now? Right now its zero since I'm recovering from a bike accident with a broken collarbone but generally it is about 40 miles a week. My peak when I was doing PRs in 2000 was 80 miles a week. 

Best performances or achievements/memorable races: My best race was probably my marathon PR 3:08 at the 2000 London Marathon. Running Comrades was also a great thrill. Most memorable was when I started running as an Achilles guide to blind runners.  Eddie Montanez was one of the blind runners who became a close friend.  He had run a 4:20 marathon but wanted to qualify for Boston as a sighted runner and needed a 3:20. With help from my teammates Kathleen Coughlin and Chris Bilsky and a year of training, we chose the Steamtown marathon (16 miles nice downhill). The day was perfect race weather and from the start we kept on pace with a bit of time in the bank. The second half of the course is tougher so by mile 20 we knew it was going to be tight, but we kept  encouraging him, keeping his spirits up. The last 6 miles were tough. At the end there is a little hill and when you crest the hill you see the finish line in the distance. The clock showed 3:20 and we needed 3:20:59. I'll never forget that stretch. It seemed to take forever and Eddie was definitely tired but we kept telling him to listen for the cheers at the finish line. He finished in 3:20:49 with 11 seconds to spare. 

Diet? My weight has been very stable. I think I have been about 98 pounds for 15 years. I eat everything!

Obstacles/Injuries along the way?  Most runners have normal running injuries but I have never really had any traditional running injuries. I have "trip and fall on the trail" injuries. Mostly they heal in a week or two and I'm back out running. In the 1998 Rome marathon I was knocked over at the finish by a spectator that resulted in a collarbone break so that took a bit longer to heal. Right now I'm recovering from a bike accident and have another broken collarbone.  
Another different obstacle for me is breathing related.I have had coughing fits for a few years and the only diagnoses is chronic sinusitis.  I have not been able to get rid of it and I can feel that it affects my running. But I still love all my runs.

Are you bothered getting older and slower? No, because I have always been more of a social runner than a competitor.  I have met countless friends just chatting on runs. I love my Moving Comfort running team and although the team is no longer, the friends are forever. 

New York City Marathon
When I lived in Caracas Venezuela in 1985, I would run around the streets there and met a group called the Hash House Harriers.  I have run with them all over the world since then, and I am on their team right now.  I started running with a group of friends in the mornings before work and that group still runs almost every day in the park. I join them Saturdays now for long runs. I can't even express how much their friendship means to me.   

Favorite quote? Age is just a number.

Running philosophy? Go slow and enjoy.

Has running helped with aging?  I hope so. I think anything that brings you happiness helps with aging.  Also my mother had Alzheimers and I think getting blood moving however you do it, is helpful.   

Advice for prospective lifetime runners?  Do your easy runs easy.  Check out the Jack Daniels formula charts which indicate appropriate paces. Input your latest race and it will tell you what pace you should be doing your intervals,  tempos, and easy runs. I find that most people will look at that chart and think that the long run pace is way too slow. IT ISN'T!!!  By doing that pace you can build up mileage without injury and you can do your speed work to get faster. Run on soft surface if possible. Rotate shoes as much as possible.

Lessons learned from running? Running is so natural and easy.  I take my running shoes wherever I go.  It is a perfect way to explore new cities.

PROFILE: Billy Shea has been running for 51 years


(Aug. 2019) Though he now lives in northern California, Billy Shea is one of the many longtime runners from southeastern Connecticut inspired by the legendary John J. Kelley. Shea says he began running, in socks only (no shoes), the afternoon in 1968 when he first saw Kelley run a local road race. Shea was 11 at the time. Now 63, he continues training and racing hard despite hip replacement. He counsels others to run by minutes and feel, not by miles, and enjoys quoting Yogi Berra: "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Career/profession: I was a mental health counselor for 12 years at the Reliance House in Norwich Ct. I then moved on after taking another position within Charter Oak. But it was eventually shut down due to the state budget cuts. I then became employed by Foxwood's casino and retired in 2015. Currently working at Fleet Feet in Menlo Park, CA.

When and why did you start running? My running career began on the third Sunday in 1968. I read the morning paper and saw that there was a

PROFILE--Kevin Stevens has been running (and triathlon-ing) for 46 years


(August 2019) Kevin Stevens has a fearless attitude honed from years in the military that has guided her to: set up her own sports nutrition consulting company, become a Yoga instructor, complete her first of four Ironmans at age 55, and take up ultra marathons at 62. And through it all she raised a bunch of kids. Kevin hails originally from Missoula Mt and currently lives in Spokane WA. "Running will always be there, no matter what my pace," she says. "People tell me I don't look 62, so I guess it is working."

Career/Profession: I have been a Registered Nurse for 33 years, with 24 of those years on active duty in the Air Force. I am also a Registered Dietitian having gone back to school to obtain my second masters degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the age of 61. I have a passion for sports performance nutrition and have started a nutrition consulting business as well. After retirement from the military, I went to work at a local university as a nurse educator where I still work and I do Sports Performance nutrition consulting in my spare time.

Top endurance and other accomplishments? I am most proud of the fact that if I want to do something, I don’t let

PROFILE--Vince Chiappetta has been running for 71 years


(August 2019) Vincent Chiappetta, a co-founder on New York Road Runners and its fourth president, has been running for 71 years. His running buddies have included Ted Corbitt, Kurt Steiner and Tom Osler. He used to accompany Corbitt on his 30-mile laps around Manhattan. During the NYRR's early days, Chiappetta was the yin to Fred Lebow's yang. During his competitive heyday, he ran a total of 114 marathons--50 of them under 2:40. At 86, he continues to teach biology and anatomy at Yeshiva University. On a recent day at 9:30 p.m., he was still in his office. What keeps him going? He says it’s simple: “Runners are survivors. We know how to keep our minds as well as our bodies moving.”  

Your career/profession? I’ve taught at Yeshiva University since 1954. I teach Biology, Ecology, Geology, and pre-med courses. I was also the men’s and women’s track and cross-country coach at Hunter College for 8 years. Co-founding and organizing the first New York City Marathon in 1970 was

PROFILE--Joanna Harper has been running for 48 years, two-thirds as a male, one-third as a female

USATF Club XC, 2015. Photo by Michael Scott.
[Editor's note: Joanna Harper is one of the world's most influential, little-known runners. Below, the 62-year-old explains why in her own words. In a nutshell: She was a former low 2:20s male marathoner, who transitioned to female in 2004/5, and has continued training and racing hard as a woman. She has also studied what she has lived. This has led to her becoming an Olympic consultant on transgender issues, an expert witness at the Caster Semenya case, and more.]

(August 2019) My name is Joanna Harper and I have run at least one race every calendar year since 1971, making 48 consecutive years of racing. I currently (August 2019) live in Portland Oregon, and I work as a medical physicist in one of the larger hospitals here in town. I will be moving to England in September to go back to school to get a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. From 1971 through 2004 I competed in the men’s category. Since 2005 I have competed in the women’s category. I started hormone therapy in August 2004 and within nine months I was running 12% slower. Once I started racing in the women’s category I found that my age graded performances lined very well with my previous performances in the men’s category (approximately 80% in either case). I found other transgender runners and they had undergone similar experiences. In 2015 I published the first peer-reviewed paper on transgender athletic performance and soon I will have the opportunity to study transgender athletes in a full time capacity as part of my PhD. program. I am the author of the forthcoming book Sporting Gender: the History, Science, and Stories of Transgender and Intersex Athletes. Look for the book at Christmas time 2019.

What are your proudest achievements? If we are speaking of running achievements, then I am most proud of the 2:23 marathon I ran as a young man, and of the fact that I have won team and individual USATF age group national championships as an old lady. If we are talking about non-running achievements, I am proud of the fact that I have become one of the most influential world-wide voices in the ongoing debate over transgender and intersex athletes.

Guesstimate of lifetime miles? Roughly 120,000 miles or 200,000 kilometers.

When did you start running why? I went out for the cross country team as a high school freshman in September 1971.

How much did you run per week in your peak years? There were a few years in my mid-20s when I hit more than 5000 miles per year. I would consistently run 100-120 miles per week with only a few down weeks per year. I now average 50-60 miles per week.

What were some of your better/most memorable races? I ran my personal best, 2:23:55, in the Philadelphia Marathon in 1982. I won the (non-defunct) Hamilton Marathon in 1981. I placed 15th in the Canadian University Cross Country championships in 1980. In 2007 I was the 50-54 age group champion at the USATF club cross country championships, and in 2017 and 2018 I was a member of the 60-64 team champion Team Red Lizard at the USATF club XC meet.

How did you train differently in your younger years? I ran more, harder, faster and took fewer recovery days.

Has your diet changed through the years? When I was young and running high mileage I could pretty much eat and drink as I pleased. I have to be much more careful of caloric intake now. I also can’t drink nearly as much alcohol as I could then. There is not much fun in getting older.

Cross Training? I currently do 30 minutes on the rowing machine twice per week and lift free weights and do a core workout once or twice per week.

How important is social running to you? I enjoy the social aspects of running, but it gets harder as I get older and slower since most of the young runners are now too fast for me. It is very hard to run so slowly, but it is better than giving up.

Obstacles along the way? I once ruptured my Achilles tendon when I was out on a trail run in New Zealand. They had use a helicopter to get me off the mountain. That was my most memorable injury, but there have been plenty of others.

Favorite quote? I like the old Woody Allen standby, where he said that 80 percent of success comes from just showing up. I think that applies to many aspects of life, including running. If you want to be a runner, then run.

Has running helped you with the aging process?
Probably, but it also isn’t any fun to get slower and slower every year.
Last December's Club XC in balmy Spokane 

What three tips would you give a younger runner who wants to be a lifetime runner?
1--I think it is important to keep running in perspective, but keep at it too.
2--If you want to be a lifetime runner, then you will need to deal with all the big and little indignities that hit athletes as they grow older.
3--Learn to accept that you are slower this year than you were last year, and that you will be slower still next year.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? Like many other things, one gets out of running what one puts into it.

[Harper has made many media appearances in recent years to explain transgender issues in sports, and also the Caster Semenya case. You can find her easily on YouTube.com. Here's just one such interview.