'Old man, you'd better slow down a little': 80-year-old Calgarian places 2nd in Boston Marathon age group

'Old man, you'd better slow down a little': 80-year-old Calgarian places 2nd in Boston Marathon age group

If you've ever found yourself jogging along Memorial Drive and getting passed by a white-haired man, don't feel bad — that speedy octogenarian runs marathons.

On Monday, 80-year-old Calgarian Gerry Miller placed second in his age category in the Boston Marathon with an official time of 4:32:54.

Miller says he's lost track of exactly how many marathons he's run over the years but estimates the number to be between 32 to 35. His latest race marked his 11th appearance in Boston.

"In Boston, you generally have to manage the Boston course and it was [26 C] on the pavement when I started — as an old grandpa, I started in corral 25 out of 36," he told the Calgary Eyeopener Friday. 

"It was so hot. After about 5K, I said, 'old man, you'd better slow down a little if you want to finish well.' So I came across the half at 2:12 and then I had lots of piss and vinegar after 30K."

In 2013, Miller was in Boston at the time of the bombings. He says he was 300 metres away from the finish when he saw the second blast — just one minute and 20 seconds short of him hitting the finish line.

Miller watched his friend get blown over by the blast and then get back up and cross the finish before they shut down the clock. Miller, who couldn't cross the line in 2013, says it brought tears to his eyes passing that point during the marathon on Monday.

"We have to keep going back if we can," he said. "Boston is very strong and it's a tradition and we're not going to let some isolated situation like that ruin the reputation of Boston Strong."

Secret to a long, healthy life

Miller grew up on a farm near the tiny Hamlet of Galahad, Alta., around 170 kilometres northeast of Red Deer. He remembers being a kid that enjoyed being on the move — picking roots, running after cows in bare feet.

He kept active throughout the years, which he believes is one key factor to a long and healthy life. And he has no plans to slow down anytime soon.

"Stay positive, enjoy life, have the odd beer, is what I do," he said.

Another Boston Marathon is likely in Miller's future. He says his secret to training is to "be natural about running" and not over-train. 

"As we get older, we never, ever have to run. But we have to keep moving because physically moving kind of helps one to stay active mentally and intellectually as well," he said.

"All variables come together — if we eat well, we move, we stay positive, we keep our life's vibrations as high as possible."

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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener