85-year-old Ruth Black is set to run her 38th Great Race

Ruth Black started running in the late 1960s to keep healthy and stay fit.  For this Sunday, Sept. 30, Black will participate in her 38th Great Race. In 1980, at age 47, she competed in her first 10-kilometer run.“The Great Race was an instant favorite,” she said of that first foray into competitive running. “I loved jogging through the city streets, passing through the outskirts and into Oakland, then the excitement of cresting the last hill and seeing Pittsburgh spread out below, with one more mile to go before the end of the race,” she said describing the 6.2-mile course. Now, at age 85, she dominates the distance even though her times have slowed since her first races. Black is a safe bet to take home a prize. In 37 previous runs, she has received 18 total awards for first, second and third places in her division. “Not a bad batting average,” she said. “The nice thing about getting older is that there are fewer runners in your age group. I tell my friends, all you have to do is keep running until there are only a few in your age group. You’ll get a plaque every time.” About eight weeks out, she starts training. She will run Monday through Saturday and chart her distances and where she ran. Come race day, she is ready. “It isn’t always a breeze,” she said, noting that last year’s run was one of the most difficult because of the heat and humidity. “It was unbelievable,” she recalled. “People were passing out along the route. I’m a stubborn runner and under normal circumstances I don’t take a break even for water but last year I had to.”

posted Tuesday September 25th