Cindy Peterson ran her first race, the NYRR New York Mini 10K, in 1993. She was 53 years old.
Peterson returned and ran the Mini again in 1994, and she kept running it, year after year. In 2015, she ran her 20th Mini, and she will line up to run #21 on June 11.
“It is a very precious race to me,” said Peterson, who lives in Bedminster, NJ. She finds the all-women aspect of the race particularly special. Peterson is a founding member of the Mercury Masters, a running team for women over 50 that has 75 members. It was the Mini, she said, that brought the first members of the team together; 27 of them are signed up to run this year.
“The first Mini I ran was so inspirational to me,” said Peterson. “It gave me the courage to keep running and to reach my goal of finishing the 1994 New York City Marathon.”
She still has her Mini participant shirts from 1998 and 1999, and a treasured photo taken of her and three friends at the finish line in 1996.
“Every year it is very exciting to be with young, middle-age, and older women,” Peterson said. “Each and every one is running for their own reasons, but for the same end goal, to get to the finish line.”
Peterson’s accomplishments go beyond her streak of 20 Mini finishes. At age 76, she’s completed 49 marathons, including 18 New York City Marathons and at least one marathon in each of the seven continents, which makes her a member of the prestigious Seven Continents Club.
Peterson has no plans to stop doing the Mini. “Someone once said, ‘You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running,’” she said. If there’s ever a year she can’t run or walk, she’ll be cheering and greeting her friends and teammates at the finish.
“We meet before the race every year for a team photo,” she said, “and we all cheer at the end as we wait for our teammates to finish.”