Moon Fahel, 85, didn’t start running until he was 80 years old. However, on Sunday, Dec. 2, he completed the San Antonio Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, his fifth marathon in his short but sweet running career.
Fahel, who was born in Syria and lives in San Antonio, completed the 26.2-mile course in 6 hours, 24 minutes and 4 seconds as the race’s oldest runner. The back of shirt read “Another 26.2 Mile Run by Mr. Moon at Age 85.5” to encourage others to tap into their energy reserves when the going got tough.
After working as a mechanical engineer for a construction company for 35 years, Fahel found himself searching for something to do in retirement.
So, along with his wife of 66 years, he joined a gym and jumped into exercise classes that looked fun.
Unfortunately, treatment for prostate cancer in 2013 also occupied his time in retirement. But, that didn’t stop him from asking two gym friends who were runners to help him train for a marathon. He continued running throughout treatment for thyroid cancer in 2015 and liposarcoma cancer in 2016 as well.
“I’d say to my wife, ‘[The nausea] is coming on, I’m going to go put my clothes on and I’m going to go out and run,’” Fahel told Runner’s World. “I do that, run four or five miles, I come back, it’s gone. No problem.”
Now cancer-free, Fahel runs more than 1,000 miles per year as he trains. It’s a regimen that he says leaves him clueless as to what “old” is.
“If I have to describe it [old age], I’ll say, ‘I’ll get up in the morning, I shuffle my feet to go to the kitchen, I stuff myself with breakfast, I get back to a rocking chair and watch TV, repeat that for lunch, repeat that for dinner,” he said. “And then when I’m aching, I see my doctor and I’ll pop pills in my mouth.’ I don’t want to live like that.”
And, in his five years as a runner, he’s developed a new perspective on life.
“I’d rather drop dead running a marathon than die in a hospital bed,” he told the San Antonio Express-News.
Fahel proves that you never know when in life your inner athlete will emerge.