For Those Who Refuse to Quit

“What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.” – Dave Barry

There is this head game I played when I was younger where I’d always be prepared to discuss the effects of aging on physical performance by reciting the achievements and statistics of aging athletes who were still on a professional team’s roster. In my own simple mind, George Blanda, Pete Rose and George Foreman kept me feeling young beyond my prime. But when the incomprehensible Chris Chelios retired from professional hockey, arguably the roughest professional sport, I ran out of role models. This behavior probably qualifies me as someone who needs professional counseling.

I’d written quite a bit about aging and athletics, and running in particular. One of my early articles was titled “Aging Along the Trails,” and the collage that appeared in the Art of Running is a likeness of my grandson, son and I running the trails of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. For any of you who ever wondered, How much longer will I be able to do this running thing? read on.

Hugh Campbell of Wilminton, Delaware started running at 86, and is a world record holder in his age group at 88.

Hugh Campbell of Wilmington, Delaware started running at 86, and is a world record holder in his age group at 88.

Hugh Campbell of Wilmington, Delaware, started running when he was 86, and today he is a world indoor record holder for the 3,000 meter at 88 years old. He attributes his prowess to “fresh legs” because he hadn’t been a runner for his entire life. Hugh is no slouch by any means, he retired at the age of sixty and claims he’d golfed every day until he took up running. Good genes don’t hurt either, Hugh, the youngest of ten siblings, had a sister who lived to 104 and a brother to 101.

The Pike Creek Valley Running Club recruited Hugh to compete in the Grand Prix Challenge in the 85-89 age group. In March he broke his own record at the Adrenalin 5K in Haddonfield, New Jersey running 26:33, averaging 8:32 a mile. Not too shabby for any runner, let alone an 88-year-old.

Hugh says that, “People who have been running for years aren’t still running at 88. They’re either dead or had sense enough to quit.” And how does he feel about his future? “I’m 88 and a half,” he said. “That makes me wonder, what can I do when I’m 90? To read the entire article, click “Wilmington man 88, Got a Late Start and Kept on Running.”

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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4 Responses to For Those Who Refuse to Quit

  1. Sophie33 says:

    Waw, what an interesting story! What a fit grandpa! He looks great jogging!

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      It doesn’t seem that long ago, Sophie, that my buddy and I were sitting in a lodge after a trail run washing pancakes, eggs and sausage down with a beer and he said, “Did you ever notice there aren’t that many guys our age here?” I said, “No, not until you mentioned it.” These older runners are an inspiration to all of us, regardless what our passion. Thanks for writing.

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  2. msmidt says:

    Wow. Hugh has quite a story. Thanks for sharing it.

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