Written by Juanita Fox
Image: Don Aldrich completed his first half-marathon in April and took first place in his age category.
The Garden Spot Village Marathon embodies the life and vitality of the community that hosts it with open arms. On the day of the marathon thousands of people, from across the country and around the world, representing all walks of life, backgrounds and ages, arrive with a common goal: to complete a race in supportive community.
Scott Miller, chief marketing officer and race director says, “When you have over 1,200 people getting together to do something that’s meaningful to them, it’s always a great day. Beyond that it’s an annual, purpose-driven event that hundreds of people from Garden Spot Village rally around for months. Residents and family members not only volunteer but more and more register for the event. It says something about the environment of our community when someone who’s retired catches the marathon bug and sets out to do a marathon in their 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s!”
Don Aldrich, 70, ran his first half-marathon this past April and took first place in his age category. A lifetime jogger, Aldrich never considered running a marathon before moving to Garden Spot Village last August. The presence and support of the wellness staff inspired him to accept this challenge.
Aldrich says the race went “extremely well.” He explains, “The whole process, including the training for it was a positive experience and a challenge. The Wellness Staff were just outstanding with their support. I talked with every one of them several times to talk through the process. They were both knowledgeable and interested.” They also engaged with him whenever they saw him and asked how he was doing through the process. While his goal was to finish the race, he exceeded that goal by taking first place in his age category and would definitely run the race again.
Janie Hutton laughs when she thinks about the inspiration to run her first marathon at 65 in 2011. “Ignorance,” she replies. Hutton and Joanne Morton, Personal Care Social Worker, caught the marathon bug that year decided to take on the challenge with the help of Lauren Graber and the rest of the wellness staff. Remembering, Hutton says, “It was really fun. It was strenuous. The Lord allowed us to finish it. We were so happy and everyone was really excited.”
Since then Hutton switched to the half-marathon. In 2012 her husband Paul did the final leg of a relay team and they finished together. She also completed the half-marathon in 2014, 2016 and again in 2017. She continues to run the half-marathon because it offers incentive to stay physically fit.
With age comes fearlessness. She says, “When you get older you’re willing to do more risky things to prove to yourself you’re not really getting old.” She continues, “Running a marathon wasn’t on my bucket list, but it was an opportunity to do something exciting and new.”
Duane Tice, 72, walks the half-marathon because, as he says with a smile, “I’m only half-crazy.” This year marks his seventh year walking the half-marathon. His motivation to stay in shape is to fight his heart disease. During the off-season he walks 5 miles or works out on the elliptical and strength training machines for an hour each day. Starting in January he increases his workouts to 90 minutes, adding steps to increase his heart rate and prepare for “the hill.” He also takes long walks weekly to build endurance for the arduous half-marathon course he walks in early April.
Ruth McDuffie, 93, competed in the Marathon-in-a-Month, an opportunity for residents and staff to complete the marathon at their pace. She walked 79 miles inside, walking laps around Mountain View as well as up and down the hallway to the Village Square and the Post Office. Since she likes to keep moving, she says the walking “was simple, easy, just natural.”
Fifty Garden Spot Village staff members and residents of all ages joined McDuffie in completing the Marathon-in-a-Month. The event was started in 2016 to allow a way for residents of Mountain View to participate in the popular annual marathon. In 2017 the event was opened to staff and all residents. Many staff and residents volunteer the day of the event so this creates an opportunity for everyone to participate.
Diane Pechart, personal care activity director says, “Giving residents the opportunity to walk indoors gives them a sense of participation in the Garden Spot Village community and a sense of accomplishment for themselves… For a few residents who have a closer camaraderie than most, they did this to encourage each other to exercise more and feel healthier.”
Regardless of the reasons, members of the Garden Spot Village community embrace the Marathon because it creates a reason for the community to work with purpose toward a common goal.