PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The average age of the men who run the Portland Marathon is 35, but come Sunday, 80-year-old Ray Langston will be among the participants.
Langston’s running passion ignited so much that when he turned 50, he had a crazy idea about marathons.
“I thought, ‘I wonder if can run 50 marathons in 50 weeks when I was 50 years old,” Langston said.
He was able to accomplish his goal, but four years later, his passion hit the wall.
“From 54 to 79, I didn’t run for 25 years,” he said. “I was burned out.”
When the former smoker and bladder cancer survivor retired from his newspaper sales job last September, he set a new goal to run a marathon when he turned 80.
“The hardest mile I ever ran was the first one when I started back [at age] 79,” he said.
Yet, what started as a 2 mile jog blossomed into a training regime of 8 to 10 miles every two days.
Friends have been giving him lots of encouragement.
“Eighty years old – most guys are on the wrong side of the grass at that point in their life and he’s doing great,” said Langston’s friend Jim Powell.
Langston decided what is within reach is the half marathon, which is just over 13 miles. At a 12 minute pace, he should finish in about two and a half hours.
“My mind and my body are between 40 and 50. I’m not 80. You know, I’m 40 or 50. Quality of life is everything to me,” Langston said.
When Langston reaches the finish line this weekend, he won’t be done just yet. He said he plans on training for several more months to be able to complete a full marathon by the end of September 2015.