What if rather than looking back on our glory days, we look forward to them? Max Downham is showing that is possible. The 81-year-old just ran his first 26.2-mile race on Sunday at the Chicago Marathon, because why not wait until you’re in your 80s to cross off a bucket list item most people half your age don’t dare to attempt?
He finished in 7 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds, placing eighth in his age group. In the first three miles of the race, he was throwing down 15 min/miles. Though his pace slowed in the middle of the race, he got an extra burst of energy as he was nearing the finish, and averaged 16:27 min/miles in the last three miles.
Downham is the Executive Director of the International College of Surgeons, and he’s been running for most of his life. However, he didn’t start racing until May, when his running coach encouraged him to sign up for smaller races to help him train for the Chicago Marathon.
“It’s something that I’d like to be able to do and say I’ve done it, and I think also quite honestly, I take care of myself and I believe in good health, and I think this is a wonderful way to keep yourself in good shape and health,” he told WLS in Chicago prior to the race.
“What Max is proving is that no matter what age, we’re never too old to be a first-timer at anything,” his coach Denise Sauriol said.
Downham also used the opportunity to raise money for Chicago Lights, which provides support to children and adults in Chicago who are facing challenges associated with poverty.
Before toeing the start line in Chicago, he said he wanted to take on more marathons down the road. We’ll see if after more than seven hours of running, he still has those same intentions.
Either way, a nice medal around his neck will help ease the pain in his body.
Way to go, Max!