Sounds like a New Yorker’s New Yorker. A great story on many levels: Running the New York Marathon at age 75. Getting support from friends and family. Running to raise money for a special cause. And the fact that “Last year, 174 finishers of the New York City Marathon were 70 or older, and 15 were in their 80s.” We wish George Hirsch the best of luck in his final marathon.
You can read the full article by Charles Wilson at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/sports/21marathon.html?_r=1, with an excerpt provided below.
At 75, George Hirsch Will Run New York City Once More
By Charles Wilson, Published: October 20, 2009
Old habits die hard.
George Hirsch is 75. He is the founding publisher of New York magazine, he ran for Congress in 1986, and he has a personal-best marathon time of 2 hours 38 minutes (Boston, 1979). A founder and publisher of running magazines, Hirsch helped Fred Lebow plan the first five-borough New York City Marathon, in 1976, and is now chairman of the New York Road Runners, the race’s organizer. He has run more than 30 marathons over four decades.
On Nov. 1, Hirsch plans to be at the starting line of the New York City Marathon on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. His friends are hoping for the best. Some of them also worry.
“The last few times George has raced marathons, he literally came out looking like a welterweight boxer who had been T.K.O.’d in the eighth round,” said Amby Burfoot, a longtime editor at Runner’s World.
At the Chicago Marathon in 2003, Hirsch, then 69, collapsed 50 yards from the finish and fell on his face. He lost part of two front teeth. At the Mesa Falls Marathon in Idaho in 2007, Hirsch, then 73, fell on his face again. His sunglasses smashed and he was left with a black eye.
Two months later, Hirsch was on pace to run a 3:27 marathon in Albany when he lost his balance running downhill after the 20th mile. He was bleeding, but he picked himself up and took off again. His back soon seized up. Two police officers on bicycles escorted him the rest of the way. He refused their requests to go to a hospital.
Bart Yasso, who has run more than 1,000 races, described Hirsch as the “most mentally tough runner I have ever met.” But in Albany, Hirsch’s wife, Shay, watched her bloodied husband shuffle into the finishers’ gate and decided they should talk.
“I said, ‘This has got to be it, George,’ ” she said. “ ‘You’ve run your marathons. You’ve put it out there and you know what you can do, but this is not good.’ ”
Hirsch is not the only septuagenarian who has found it difficult to give up marathoning. Ed Whitlock, a Canadian athlete, was 73 when he ran a 2:54 marathon; this month, at 78, he ran a 1:37 half-marathon. Last year, 174 finishers of the New York City Marathon were 70 or older, and 15 were in their 80s.
Hirsch, razor thin with a warm smile, had always longed to be good at some athletic endeavor. “I had no natural gifts,” he said.
(The article continues at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/sports/21marathon.html?_r=1)