Running is a career for some and a lifestyle to others. People in any other occupation often look forward to a time when they are going to retire and begin enjoying their lives. But, watching some runners this year, it would seem like running is a lifelong career that has no retirement age and is to be enjoyed by those who understand the benefits of taking it up.
If there was one thing that running should be used to champion; it should be the spirit of never giving up. Age, work, illness, injuries and financial situations, among others, should never hold anyone back from running and staying fit. Below are some athletes whose experiences in 2016 should motivate anyone to keep on running.
Canada's 85 year old Ed Whitlock ran the Toronto Marathon in October in a time of 3:56:38 to break the men's 85-89 world record record of 4:34:55. The former record was set in 2004. To reach 85 years of age while remaining fit is a great achievement in itself; running under four hours in a marathon at that age is amazing, although I think I even lack the right word to use here. Most people have recently seen the benefits of running and the young and old generations are now slowly beginning to adopt a culture of running and jogging daily.
Another motivation came from Kenya's Jemima Sumgong who fell down hard during the London marathon, stood up, dusted herself and fought hard again to reach the leading pack before eventually becoming the winner. Had she lost hope after the fall, she would not have ended up winning the London marathon. This led to her being named in Kenya's Olympic marathon team and going ahead to become the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal in marathon. This was a little persistence that ended up making a great difference in her life.
And as though the theme of 2016 would be on falling down and rising again, in the same version as Sumgong, Geoffrey Kamworor also fell down at the start of the men's race at the start of the world half marathon race in Cardiff. With bruises on his knees after having been stumbled upon by the masses who were behind him, Kamworor stood up and pushed himself through the crowd that had already overtaken him till he was at the front. He went ahead to win the race and got crowned as a world champion.
USA's Bernard Lagat, who won the 5000m event at the Olympic trials still has a great finishing kick, at his age, for track running. The 41 year old has been running in world major competitions since 2000 when he first represented Kenya at the Sydney Olympics. He even won a bronze medal momentarily at the Rio Olympics before his countryman Paul Chelimo appealed his disqualification and he was unfortunately pushed out of the podium position.
Netherland's Gert Brienne is growing older at 49, but still managed to run his personal best time at the Chicago marathon this year. It was like a joke when he told me last year that he was "growing older and faster with time!" It would be interesting if at 50 someone is yet to run their personal best time in marathon and still hope to do so.
Also, for the first time in my life I saw running from a perspective of a runner who only took it up while in their late 20s. My wife started running about half a year ago. At first, she would alternate between jogging and walking. Now she can run 25km comfortably, walk up the stairs without panting for breath or breaking a sweat, feels great with her body, sleeps soundly and walks around more easily than before. In fact, she was bitter with me for not telling her the advantage of running much earlier when we met, but for me, I had no idea how it felt not to be a runner having been runner myself all my life.
Well, for those who have never tried running in their lives and those who stopped doing it for any reason, if you are still under 85 years of age, you still have enough time to keep running.