Be the tortoise, not the hare: Alberta man celebrates 80th birthday with 100th marathon
'You have to take it easy. I'm not a racer,' Roger Macmillan says
Marathon runner Roger Macmillan gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "over the hill."
The Fort Saskatchewan man has conquered a few of them over the years, and will be celebrating his upcoming 80th birthday in October by running his 100th full marathon this month.
Reaching the milestone has been a personal goal for Macmillan since he completed his first full race at the age of 69.
"I got in some big ones. I did New York, I did Dublin a couple of times, and then I set a target," Macmillan said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"I wanted to do 100 marathons before my 80th birthday and that's kept me going."
Macmillan's 100th race will be the 2017 Edmonton Marathon on Aug. 20, He will become an official octogenarian on Oct. 3.
Slow and steady
His secret to acquiring such a big pile of participation ribbons? He tends to favour the humble tortoise approach.
Don't win the race, just finish it, Macmillan recommends.
"You have to take it easy. I'm not a racer," Macmillan said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"The difference between a recreational marathoner like me and an Olympic marathoner, I mean they're running hard. They can't run for four months after," he said.
"I can run the next week. I've done three in three weeks."
Macmillan, a British expat, began running 5k and 10k races on a lark. A veteran, he had been part of an official military cross-country team in his youth but admitted that he only joined to "get out of other duties."
I couldn't walk for about a week, but I was hooked.- Roger Macmillan
It wasn't until years later, after being inspired by his co-worker's collection of marathon wear, that he finally got the urge to run again.
"I was working at an office up in Fort McMurray and a guy kept coming in to work with running T-shirts on and I wanted one," Macmillan said with a chuckle.
"I entered a 10K race in Edmonton and I got my T-shirt. I couldn't walk for about a week, but I was hooked."
Macmillan's first full marathon was in Vancouver in May 2006, just months before his 69th birthday.
His hardest race so far had nothing to do with "running-related" issues, he said.
He suffered to reach the finish line after an especially late night with some other "crazies" during a school reunion in Fort Saskatchewan.
"I paid for it, let me tell you. But I finished," he said.
'You've got to keep moving'
Macmillan will be wearing bib number 100 when his children and grandchildren gather to watch him cross the finish line at the Edmonton Marathon this month.
He plans to celebrate after the big race with a nice cold pint of Guinness.
His advice to other seniors looking to stay spry? A body in motion stays in motion.
"I would tell people you don't necessarily have to run marathons, but keep moving," Macmillan said.
"I walk every day, 365 days a year. Just keep moving. You've got to keep moving and hopefully live a little bit longer."