You’re never too old to become a faster runner. Just ask 82-year-old Ed Whitlock, who ran the half-marathon in 1:38:11 on Sunday, September 15, breaking by 48 seconds the 80-and-older world record he set last year.
Whitlock posted both record-breaking times in his adopted hometown of Milton, Ontario, and as he told the Runner’s World Newswire, he went into this year’s race gunning for 1:37. And why not? He’d done a 10K in 44:22 the previous weekend.
“After a somewhat slow first 3K, I managed to get on pace at 7K, but then it gradually slipped away,” he said.
Even so, Whitlock has an impressive résumé. Among marathoners, he’s the world-record holder in both the 70- and 80-and-over age divisions, having notched times of 2:54:48 and 3:15:54, respectively.
Decades earlier, the English native ran a 4:31 mile in high school and defeated world-record holder Gordon Pirie in a cross-country race, Runner’s World reported in a 2010 story. Unfortunately, Achilles troubles cut short what might have been a promising career, and he didn’t start racing again until his 40s, after he’d moved to Quebec and started a family.
These days, he does all of his training in the cemetery two and a half blocks from his house, and whether he’s focusing on speed or doing three-hour pre-marathon workouts, he never times his loops.
On October 20, Whitlock will compete in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where he set a new age-81 world record last year with a time of 3:30:26.
Just as he recently improved on his 2012 half-marathon time, he’s hoping to trim a cool five minutes off last year’s mark.
“My training between now and then and weather conditions on the day will determine my objective time," Whitlock said. "All things going favorably, I would guess at 3:25.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg