Some count their age in years. It would be more than fair for Roy Englert, 96, to count them in world records.
Englert set a new age group world record, running 5,000 meters, or 3.1 miles, in 42 minutes and 30 seconds at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in Ames, Iowa on July 11.
The Virginia native and former attorney eclipsed the previous age group mark by almost eight minutes.
“I’m surprised. It’s faster than I expected to run. I expected to run about 45 [minutes],” he told reporters after the race. “You run when you can, and then you have to walk some.”
According to Run Washington, Englert took up running at the age of 60, and continues to train three to four days per week by running on the treadmill at his retirement community’s fitness center. He runs two to four miles at a time, depending on if he has a competition coming up.
And, all the hard work has paid off. Englert holds the 95 to 99 age group records in the 800m and 1500m, and world records in the 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800 relay team.
“It’s fun. It’s not fun while you’re doing it,” he said. “It’s fun when you’re finished. It’s hard work, actually.”
His commitment to competing also gave him and his wife a good “excuse” to travel all across the country.
A very small percentage of people over 95 can go out and cover a 5K. Englert is racing it. Yet, he’s the first one to bat down accolades and attention.
“I don’t consider myself that much of an inspiration. I’m a slow runner,” he says in his National Senior Games profile. “But I guess I’ve outlasted almost everybody. It gets easier to win when there’s not as much competition around.”
This comes from a man who struggled to run a quarter-mile 30 years ago. There’s a familiar analogy there involving age and fine wine. But, Englert is beyond that.
He’s digging deep and showing us all how to finish strong.