Running icon, Ed Whitlock, died yesterday, at the age of 86. Below is a blog I wrote on November 27, 2015, entitled “In the Presence of Greatness,” after having had the honor of meeting and speaking with Ed at the Berwick, Pennsylvania Run for the Diamonds on Thanksgiving Day 2015.
Ed Whitlock was humble and and gracious. We talked about training (he joked about the irony of his daily training route: a cemetery near his home), racing, and injuries. Ed never stretched, or cross-trained. When he got injured, he would take time off and pick up with his running when he felt he was healed.
After I published my blog, I received a thank-you email from Ed. You would have thought I had handed him a million dollars.
How awesome was this man? Here’s a sample of his times at various ages. 5K: 17:23, age 67. 18:21, age 73. Half marathon: 1:20:14, age 69, 1:22:03, age 70, 1:38:59, age 81. Marathon: 2:51:02, age 68, 2:54:48, age 73, 3:15:54, age 80, 3:56:33, age 85.
Rest in peace, champ.
IN THE PRESENCE OF GREATNESS-November 27, 2015
In this world of overpaid, egotistical athletes, playing their professional sports, shamelessly hawking any product to make a buck, then bragging about their accomplishments, yesterday, in Berwick, Pennsylvania, at the 106th running of the Run for the Diamonds, I had the honor for being in the presence of greatness.
It was my privilege to meet, and speak with 83-year old Ed Whitlock,
In my estimation, Ed Whitlock is the greatest living athlete on the planet.
So, in an effort to be completely accurate, I’ll list Ed’s accomplishments, as listed on his Wikipedia page.
” In his 60s after retiring he started to concentrate on road racing and latterly the objective of becoming the first man over 70 to run a marathon in less than three hours. After an initial attempt at age 70, injury prevented another attempt until age 72 when in 2003 he completed the marathon 2:59:10. In the following year, he lowered the record to 2:54:49 and in 2005 ran 2:58:40 at age 74, to date (2013) the oldest man to run under three hours for a marathon.
In 2006 he set the world record for the 75 to 79 age group with a time of 3:08:35 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and in the Rotterdam Marathon on April 15, 2007, Whitlock lowered that mark to 3:04:54 on a day when the marathon was stopped after three and a half hours because of high temperature.
On September 26, 2010, Whitlock ran the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon in 1:34:23.4.
After turning 80, Whitlock improved the marathon world record for his age category by almost 15 minutes to 3:25:43 at the 2011 Rotterdam Marathon on April 10, 2011. He then further improved on his age category world record at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16, 2011, lowering the record to 3:15:54.
At age 81, on Sunday, September 16, 2012, wearing bib number 1, Whitlock broke the Canadian and unofficial world half-marathon record at his hometown inaugural race, the Milton Half-Marathon, running 1:38:59. In 2013, he lowered the record to 1:38:11 on the same course.
Whitlock also competes on the track, where as of 2012 he holds 15 world age group records ranging in distance from 1500 metres to 10,000 m and age groups 65+, 70+, 75+ and 80+, as well as the three age group marathon records 70+, 75+ and 80+.“
That’s right folks, a 3:15 marathon–at age 80!
I have never met a more gracious, humble man. Ed Whitlock is a great athlete and competitor, but he is an even greater individual, He told me he can’t wait to turn 85 so he can assault more age-group records. Even more than the delicious turkey, my meeting Ed Whitlock was the highlight of my Thanksgiving Day.
I just hope some of his talent, dedication, and determination rubs off!