PROFILE--Kirk Larson has been running for 44 years

(2-19) Kirk Larson always placed high in the 600-yard walk/run Presidential Fitness Challenge. He was a fast kid, but growing up in Chicago in the 50s, running was just part of the games he played in the streets and sandlots with his buddies. It wasn’t until he turned 60 that he got interested in competing in the USATF masters championships. He has to thank his friend and teammate, Jerry Learned, who was trying to put together an M60+ team for the Atlanta Track Club (ATC) for getting him involved in national competitions. Larson, now 67, and his wife, Susan Gantt, a runner turned swimmer and psychologist, reside in Atlanta, where he manages personal investments when not running with his ATC buddies or competing at USATF championships. 

When did you start running and why? January 1975. I was getting my graduate degree at Marquette University and for fun I’d go to the gym and shoot baskets. Afterwards I’d run a few laps around the basketball facility. To be honest, I don’t know what prompted me to start running. I guess I was tapping into the first running boom. I ran two marathons in my late 20s, including a sub-three, but didn’t like it. Too long and too hard on the body.

I started competing for the ATC in my mid-40s. At that time, I would have called myself a good local runner, but ATC had so many great runners I had to work hard to even be on the podium. Although my 5K PR is 16:54, most of my master’s races were in the upper 17 to low 18 range. But I had a blast and loved the camaraderie. Many of the ATC members were running marathons in their 40s and 50s, but I stuck with the shorter distances which I think really saved my legs.  By age 52 or 53, I consistently started to win my age group. Turning 60, I started attending the USATF championship events and loved it. I don’t run many local races anymore, as I prefer the competition of the masters events.

How much did you run per week in your peak years? Now? At my peak I ran 35 to 45 miles per week. For a long time now, it has been 25 to 35 miles, and part of that includes focused speed workouts, hills, and form drills.

What were some of your better/memorable races?
Hood to Coast 2002. Mike Anderson and I captained an ATC team.  We won masters with a team averaging over 48 years of age, were 10th overall, and averaged 5:56 per mile for the 196 miles.

Since turning 60, I have been part of 15 national championship teams at USATF Masters GP races, running for the ATC. We won the M60+ team GP in 2018. 

Individually, I have won a national championship, 5 silver and 7 bronze medals.The national championship was in August 2018 in my hometown, Atlanta, and my teammates and competitors at the award ceremony treated me to a standing ovation.That was a moment I will long remember!

I am proud of the fact that I have medalled at every distance at these championships other than road 8K. On the road: at the mile, 5K, 10K, 12K, and 15K.  XC at 5K, 8K, and 10K.

I placed third in the USATF Individual Grand Prix in 2014, 2016, and 2017, and won it 2018 (65-69).

How did you train differently from your younger years? Mileage was not that much different, but I do more focused workouts now, partially thanks to some great advice from Pete Magill. I’ve stayed consistent with five days a week for much of my running career. I do more tapering going into a race and get more recovery after. Rest is critical for us senior runners.

Has your diet changed through the years? I haven’t eaten red meat since 1974 and have been a vegetarian since 1990, although recently I have added wild caught salmon back into my diet. In general, my diet is pretty healthy and has been consistent much of my adult life. My weight hasn’t varied more than a pound or two since college. 

Cross Training: I don’t cross train in terms of cardio-vascular exercise. However, I spend huge amounts of time with flexibility and strength work (including Redcord). Meeting Aaron Mattes when I was in my late 30s and becoming very proficient in Active-Isolated Stretching and Strengthening has been a huge part of what has kept me running so well into my late 60s. I had a gym membership but gave it up a few years ago. Now I do all my stretching and strength work at home. I’ll do 45 minutes to an hour most every day.

How important is social running to you? If you were/are a competitive runner, can you adapt to the slower times? I love the great friends from around the country I have made at USATF championship races and being part of ATC. Running with the best keeps me motivated and on my toes. I’d rather have my butt get kicked by the best in the country than dominate in a local race.

I have adapted to slower times and am very proud of the fact that I have slowed “gracefully.” I went from many years of being a good local runner, to someone age-grading consistently in the mid 80th-percentile range because I slowed down less than the tables would predict.

Obstacles along the way: Knock on wood, I have stayed relatively injury free. Stretching, strength work, massage, preventative PT, good diet, relatively low mileage all being contributing factors.

A favorite quote: “In every race there is a crucial moment when the body wants to quit. Then it takes imagination and mental tenacity to survive the crisis. Otherwise, the penalty is defeat.”--Derek Ibbotson

Has running helped you with the aging process?  Absolutely. I think it has helped me feel, act, move and look younger than my years would indicate. I rarely get sick and I think my good fitness is the reason for that.

What three tips would you give a younger runner who wants to be a lifetime runner? 
1--Don’t over-train, and only do the type of racing that you want to do. You can still train hard at 50 and up, but be smart about it. 
2--Pay attention to diet, flexibility and strength work early on. It will pay big dividends as you get older. 
3--As you age, set a goal to slow down less than your competitors, and less than the age-graded tables predict.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? Running has helped me stay physically and mentally fit; has been the source of developing many good friends; and, has given me a huge sense of accomplishment.  I also met my lovely wife through running.

PROFILE--Jim Austin ran 3:07 in the 1968 Boston Marathon ... and then some

(2-19) Jim Austin is too humble to say much about his career, as you'll see below, so we're going to fill in a few details here. Since 1972, he's been a professor at the Harvard Business School, from which he graduated. He was co-founder and chair of the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative, which has worked with nonprofits and socially oriented businesses around the globe. He has been the author or editor of 16 books in his area of expertise, and one--Gone Running--about his passion. In 2008, Austin received the Aspen Institute's Ashoka Award for professors who integrate social and environmental issues into their work. Gone Running describes runs he has taken in far-flung places, including Oaxaca, MEX, where he and his wife, Cathy, now live half the year. In 1968, Austin, now 76, finished 84th (3:07:21) in the Boston Marathon.

What was your career/profession? University Professor, Harvard Business School

When did you start running and why? In elementary school. I thought I was fast in my school, but finished last in our first track meet against other schools. Decided I wasn’t really much of a sprinter. Didn’t really start competitive running until high school cross-country and track (on the swimming team in between).

How much did you run in your peak years? When training for marathons, about 70. Otherwise about 40.

Top races or achievements?
*Boston Marathon – 1968: It was my first marathon, I had little idea

PROFILE--Mike Beeman has been running for 47 years

After 2017 Jacksonville Marathon,
with daughter, Melanie.
Mike Beeman doesn't have to estimate his total lifetime miles: He knows the total, as he has kept close track in his paper running logs. All told, he has covered more than 128,000 miles. Beeman, a 62, now lives and teaches in Georgia after 47 years in Londonderry NH. He has completed 41 consecutive Boston Marathons.

Career/profession? I am a marketing teacher and XC, track and basketball coach at Tift County High School in Tifton GA. I was also a retailer from 1981 -1996 in Londonderry NH (Total Sports). I also worked for Converse for 5 years with Ken Swenson in running promotions.

When did you start running and why? I started running in 1971 in order to get in shape for my sophomore year in basketball. I made the XC team and continued playing basketball through high school and at Merrimack (MA) College where I ran XC with Dave McGillivray and

PROFILE--Carolyn Mather has run more than 217,000 liftime miles

At just past 70 years old, Carolyn Mather has run far more miles than any woman in the world ... or at least those tracked by www.100kLifetime Miles--more than 217,000 miles. In fact, there are only a handful of men with more miles than Mather. Her biggest years--well over 7000 miles--have been the last three, which came on the heels of her husband's death. He--Steve Mather--played a big role in distance running also, as he basically invented the science of fluid tables and distribution to elite athletes in the world's biggest, most important marathons. In addition to her high weekly mileage, in December Carolyn Mather (Morganton, GA) won her age group at the 2018 USATF Club XC Championships. She repeated this past weekend at the USATF National XC meet in Tallahassee FL.

Your career/profession? I am retired from medical education and health care management. I am a registered nurse and have a PhD in Educational Leadership and Research and Statistics. I have taken up a second career in retirement as a writer for Running Journal and Fortius Media/RunBlogRun.

When did you start running and why? I started running in the summer of 1978 when I was living in the coed dorm at the University of South Florida and finishing my masters degree. After having worked as a full time middle school teacher and coach, part time professor and graduate student,mother, wife and general housekeeper and cook, I was completely at a loss for something to occupy my time. So I started running.

How much did you run in your peak years? Way too much. 140-150 miles per

PROFILE--Jeff Benjamin has been running for 38 years

Racing in the rain in 2002.
Jeff Benjamin has been a Staten Island running mainstay since 1981. Recently he was awarded the 2019 Staten Island A.C. Lou Marli Community Service Award to the running community. Benjamin will receive the award at the annual SIAC gala on Feb. 16. Past honorees include New York running legends Joe Kleinerman, Kurt Steiner, Art Hall, and Fred Lebow. Benjamin, 53, is also an prolific running writer, who frequently reports on the sport for the Staten Island Advance,, and other running publications.

Career-profession? I have been an American History Teacher at New Dorp HS since 1997 & have taught in the New York City Dept of Education since 1987. In 1988 I became interested in doing some sort of Track & Field/ Running articles. Fred Lebow was kind enough to provide me with a press credential to the old NYRR NY Games T&F meet held at Columbia University.

I’ve done pieces for the local Staten Island Advance (SILIVE.COM), Freddi Carlip’s The Runners’ Gazette, and am now a Senior Writer For Larry Eder at The Running Network and which started out as American Athletics Magazine Back In 1989.

When did you start running and why? In the Spring of 1981 when I was a 16 year old Sophomore at Susan Wagner HS I watched from the stands as a teacher named Steve Lerner was running laps on the old black asphalt school track. I decided to join him even though I was wearing jeans, and I completed 5 miles (20 laps) that day. 

A month later my parents learned

PROFILE--Tom Perri has been running for 44 years

Perri runs many races as a
marathon pace leader.
Tom Perri is a four-time finisher of the Fifty-States Club. He also achieved a goal of a sub 4-hour marathon in all 50 states. Perri’s lifetime running statistics doesn’t have one number that isn’t a triple digit. His lifetime miles as of 2018 stand at 107,897 over a span of 44 years, and his 2,000th career race was completed at Missoula Marathon on 7/9/2017. Perri is most proud of his role as a marathon pacer. “I get more joy out of helping others achieve their goals than out of any of my personal accomplishments,” says Perri, who runs an average of 40 marathons a year.

When did you start running and why? May of 1975 when I ran track my first two years of high school. In my junior year I switched to band and honors program. I was a geek. I picked it up again in my 20s because it was a cheap form of exercise. I ran my first marathon in 1993 at age 32 to celebrate finishing graduate school. I drove to the start of the Twin Cities Marathon and slept in my car until it was time to take the 5:00 a.m. bus to the start. I had no idea what I was getting into. By mile 17 my feet were killing me and bleeding from blood blisters. I walked the last nine miles, finishing in a respectful 3:51. My first reaction was, “One and done. Never doing that again.” That was 25 years and 472 marathons ago.

How much did you run per week in your peak years? Now? I rarely ran over 40 miles a week, which did not include my races. The only reason I continue to average 48 plus miles weekly is due to the amount of races that I run – especially with about 40 marathons a year. 

Now my training varies depending upon my travel to do marathon/races, with sometimes doing two to three races in a weekend. In my early days of running when doing mostly 10K and shorter distances, it was not uncommon for me to do two to five races per day on a weekend. More recently though I have doing shorter races like 5K’s or 1 mile runs, etc, the day before and/or day after the marathon to get in a little speed work. I do not include speed workouts in my mix of runs as I try to stay injury free and run with fresh legs.

What were some of your better/memorable races?
My favorite marathon to date has been the Runners World Tulsa Road/Road Marathon where I took 1st place overall at 55 years old. Then the Billings Marathon where I finished my sub 4 hour marathon goal in all 50 States and obtained a 1st place 55-59 Age Group award. To date I have 494 overall wins and/or Age Group awards out of 2,081 career races.
Easy Does It 8K on shores of
Medicine Lake in Plymouth MN.

How important is social running to you? If you were/are a competitive runner, can you adapt to the slower times and enjoy a social run? I don’t run socially unless you count my pacing – almost every weekend -  as social. I talk to the runners in my group, always reassuring them and calming them down when they get anxious. I was never competitive unless you count my personal goals, which I always attain.

Obstacles along the way: In 2005 I underwent ACL surgery for a torn meniscus that was unrelated to running. Thirty-one days later I walked-ran a marathon. I know my body and how to take care of it. If I feel a tweak or a ping somewhere I addresses it immediately with a massage or stretching.

A favorite quote: "Limits exist only in the souls of those who do not dream." Not sure who said it.

Running-training philosophy: Running is my life and my career. I never married or had kids, so this is what I do. And like any career, I work hard, don’t miss work, and I’m goal oriented. No one gives me a raise if I do well but I get my bonuses from the emails that pour in from runners in my pace group that I helped set a PR or a BQ.

What are the some of the changes you have seen in running? Since I started running marathons in 1993, I have seen more females on the race circuit, which is a good thing for everyone. The second biggest change is technology, as in head phones, Garmin watches, GPS trackers, etc, which I am not a fan of as it takes the fun out of running. With headphones you don’t hear the crowds cheering which is the best part of the race. And then there’s the bling factor and the race fees. Why do I have to pay $180 to run a marathon when I don't care about the bling. 

Disney, of course.
Running in all 50 states, which I have done four times, has also changed since I started that goal in 2002. Back then there weren’t as many marathons as there are now, so the planning was a lot more difficult. For example, in 2005 there were basically 314 marathons in the United States, with a high percentage taking place in October and November. Today there are more than 1,300 marathons in the United States, according to the latest statistics from the Running USA Annual Marathon report. There are now only 27 days in the calendar where there isn’t a marathon.

How has running helped you with the aging process? What aging process? I’m too busy running a marathon every weekend to think about getting old. Running keeps me fit, healthy, active, and engaged which is the best way to stay youthful as we age. And I have a great social network of friends that I see at races, even if it is just once a year. I have friends everywhere. 

What are the biggest lessons (life lessons and running lessons) you learned from running?  To follow your dream down the road and don’t let the little bumps get in the way. And more importantly, share the gift of running with others.

What advice would you give a younger runner who wants to run for life? The most important goal is to make sure that you are having fun.  Don’t make running all about getting BQs and PRs.  Some days will go as planned and other days will be a total washout or mess. When the body tells you it is tired, then slow down and/or take a few days off. I am not a streaker so if I am feeling not 100%, I take a day or two off until I am ready to get back to running.

PROFILE--Michael Anderson has been running for 44 years

USATF 10K Masters Championships,
April 2018. Photo by Michael Scott.
Michael Anderson has been running for 44 years and 131,000 miles as of December, 2018, and has all his logs to prove it. The son of a career Army officer, Mike Anderson moved around a lot as a kid and learned not to get attached to anything. But he also learned to make friends fast and build relationships. He swore that as an adult he would live in one place, and that’s become Atlanta Georgia. 

He ran his first marathon in 1978 and continues to be excited by competition in the USATF Masters LDR Grand Prix. “It is motivating and humbling at the same time to compete against the best masters runners in the country,” says Anderson. “I feel fortunate I am still healthy enough to do it, and looking forward to competing as long as I can.”  He is currently Director of Human Resources for the global logistics provider company DHL.

When did you start running and why? I started in September 1975 as a high schooler trying to stay in shape for football. We had to complete a 12-minute run for conditioning and I was the only guy on the team who