There’s going back to school, and then there’s running back to it. Bego Lopez has chosen the latter approach. The 50-year-old from DeLand, Florida won’t only be taking classes at Daytona State College, but she’ll be running cross-country for the school as well, according to the West Volusia Beacon.

By lacing up her shoes, Lopez will become one of the oldest athletes to compete in cross-country at the National Junior College Athletic Association level.

Her running resume is quite impressive. After moving to Florida from Spain in 2010, she’s won her city’s local 5K multiple times. But if you think her legs are toast after 3.1 miles, think again. Lopez has run marathons in 25 states, qualified for Boston numerous times and has checked off the Ironman distance triathlon as well.

Photo: Judy Wilson

Lopez enjoyed running as a child, but her father wouldn’t let her compete in the sport because he felt like she needed to focus on her grades.

Once she reached college, she joined a basketball league, which revved her competitive spirit. And, through the years, she’s always tapped into her inner-athlete.

When running coach and friend, Judy Wilson, landed the head coaching position at Daytona State for the men’s and women’s cross-country teams, the two joked that because there was no age limit at the NJCAA level, Lopez could theoretically compete. The more they talked about it, the more it made sense.

“I like challenges, and she does, too, so what started as a joke became a reality,” Lopez said. “It turned out everything aligned.”

Lopez will compete in five meets this season, with the first one being in August. She will take a full load of online classes through the business program, which will aid her work responsibilities in marketing and customer service at United Parachute Technologies.

And, it’s not just running that keeps her grounded. It’s taking to the air, too. She has more than 2,500 skydiving jumps under her belt.

“You need to challenge your life,” Lopez said. “I’m up for challenges all the time.”

And while running against competitors decades younger certainly is a challenge, Lopez is ready to take it on, full speed ahead of course.