At the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon last fall, I had the pleasure of meeting a runner by the name of Terry McCluskey. During the race, around mile 10 or so, Terry would pass me and run a 1:24:38 to my 1:25:52. We spoke at greater length after the race and found out we hailed from the same neck of the woods- him from Ohio and me from Pennsylvania. I invited him to run the Drake Well Half-Marathon (now and forever to be called the Pikermi) where he took me to task again, right around the same mile marker. This time he posted a 1:27:20 to my 1:29:00. Now it is not uncommon for runners to beat me. I am hardly elite when it comes to shorter distances like the half, even if I do put up a fairly good showing. However, Terry’s times in both these races were fairly good for a runner of his age. Oh yeah - did I forget to mention Terry is SIXTY-TWO years old? With his ridiculously fast finish at the Gate River run 15k (56:41 or 6:05 per mile!) I felt it was time I virtually sit down with Terry and introduce him to my readers. Where did you grow up? TM: I went to high school at Farrell High in Farrell, PA. Were you a runner in high school and/or college? TM: I ran the half-mile, one-mile and was the anchor on the two-mile relay in track. My best 800-meter was 2:04 with my PR in the mile being 4:52. (Terry and I spoke about how these were almost the exact same times I ran in high school but probably with the benefit of much better technology and shoes!) When I was at Slippery Rock for college I never really ran. After quitting smoking at the age of 33, I began jogging again for health. Why didn't you run at Slippery Rock? TM: I didn't run at Slippery Rock because I worked in a mill for one year before going to college. Then I was a student commuter and working full and also part time for my first two years. I lived on campus only for three semesters and was married during my last semester! Did you play other sports? TM: In the fall I did not have the choice of running cross-country as we did not have a team. I played football instead but mostly warmed the bench or played on the suicide squad in practice. What are some of your PRs? TM: Mostly I run marathons and my PR distances are surprisingly during a marathon. My 5k PR of 16:15 was the first half of my 32:40 10k PR. My half PR of 1:13:40 came as the first half of a 2:31:35 marathon I ran at age 49. My best marathon of 2:30:58 was at age 44 (Remarkably unlike any time I could probably ever hope to run). I have run 29 marathons under 2:40 - all run as a master! I have run at least one marathon at every minute increment from 2:30 to 3:01. (Another similar number thing Terry and I share, but with mine being much slower - going from 2:55-3:30) Why do you think that you are able to run so fast in the marathon when your 800 and mile times, while fine, came nowhere close to predicting you would run that fast at such a long distance? TM: In High school we really had minimal coaching. Most of the coaches were football coaches. The running program was focused on speed workouts for the sprinters. The distance runners such as me were left on our own to jog as little or as much as we wanted on the track. No formal workouts or coaching was given. As a result, our team’s strategy never relied on the distance events. So I basically ran on my own and raced without any real guidance or direction. What do you attribute your longevity in the sport to (at such unbelievable speeds)? TM: I asked Norm Green (a runner who holds many American distance records) this same question. He said he picked his parents well! I grew up in a blue-collar steel mill town. The people worked hard and took pride in their town. Sports became the outlet for our town’s pride and identity. Being the best in the state was a tradition and expected by those in the community. I carry that honor and pride with me even today. I also realize that not running from age 18 to 33 gave my body a good rest and my body is relatively new! Upcoming goals? TM: My goal presently is to get my marathon time back under 2:50. I will be defending my age group win at Boston this April. In July I will compete in the World Masters Marathon Championships (Sacramento). Along the way I will compete at some shorter distances in USATF master’s championship races. Who are some of the top competitors for the World Masters Marathon Champs? Do you think you will repeat? TM: The best marathoner in the 60-64 age group in the world is Japanese runner Yoshihisa Hosaka. He set the world record in 2009. Doug Winn of the United States has been predicted to break the American record based on his recent performances at other distances. Yuri Laptev of Russia is always a threat. Everyday someone running well in the world turns 60! You ran the Drake Well Pikermi. Did you like it (pros/cons)? Will you be running it again in August? TM: I ran the Drake Well half marathon in 2010. The out and back course along a stream in a wooded but blacktopped old rail bed was pristine, quiet, peaceful, spiritual! I hope I can make it fit in between my national race schedule this year again. Who inspires you? TM: Inspiration comes in so many ways that I would never have anticipated. The people who refuse to accept physical or mental handicaps. People refuse to believe or except the 'experts' who tell them they can't do something. Those who walk when told they will never walk again. Those who run when they are told they will never run again. Those who don't give up when they are told they are dying. Inspiration comes from those who give everything and hold nothing back. I am inspired when I hear of someone who has the courage to attempt something that is 'believed' to be impossible!