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At 80, Janesville runner making National Senior Olympics debut

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KENNETH M. VELOSKEY
June 21, 2011
— It’s 10 years since Lois Gilmore was given one day to live.

Gilmore suffered a life-threatening stroke in 2001, at age 70, but Janesville’s premier senior runner still had many miles to go. She made a miraculous recovery, thanks in part to her outstanding physical condition from running.


Lois, now 80, is making her first appearance in the National Senior Olympics in Houston this Thursday through Sunday and was selected to carry the Wisconsin flag for the opening ceremonies. She is entered in the 800, 1,500 and 5-kilometer runs.


Gilmore believes she has the stamina to compete in each race.


“I hope so,” she said. “We’ll find out.’’


If Gilmore’s performance last Sunday in the


4-mile Steamboat Classic in Peoria, Ill., is any indication of her fitness, Lois should do just fine in Houston.


Lois again showed her mettle, winning the


4-mile run’s 70-99 female age group with a time of 38 minutes, 26 seconds. Her husband, Wayne, 78, completed the


4-mile run in 45:47.


Lois was the only 80-year-old in the field of 3,382 runners and finished 1,429th overall. She finished ahead of four men in their 80s.


Gilmore doesn’t worry about the competition, or the lack of it.


“People say, ‘How can you feel competitive when you have no competition?’ A lot of times, there is nobody,” Lois said. “The only way I really can compete is with myself.


“I keep a record of every race I do, the times, did I get first or second, and then I go for age graded.”


Age graded is matching a runner’s time and age with the world record for a distance, thus figuring the percentage the runner has to a world record. If a runner registers at 90 percent or better, the runner is world class.


“My last race was age graded, and I got in the 90 percentile,” Gilmore said. “So every race I enter, I try and get 90 percent, and that way I’m my own competition.’’


Overall, Lois is feeling good since turning 80 last Oct. 30.


“I’m hanging in,” she said with a smile. “You just have aches you never knew you had, and then they go away, and then you get another one. But you’ve got to expect it, and I’m just glad I can run.’’


Lois tries to get in two good workouts a week. She and Wayne usually enter one race per weekend, cutting it from two races.


Since her stroke, Lois has had to stop riding a bike and lifting weights. Instead, she does lighter training runs, but her competitive edge remains strong.


“Stubbornness. That’s it,” Wayne said.


While Lois continues to take on competitive challenges with uncanny zeal, her son, Bill, has set a goal of competing in all nine Ironman events in the continental United States.


Bill, 51, completed Ironman Texas in Houston in 13½ hours on May 21. It was his fourth Ironman since 2008.


“The goal is nine,” Bill said. “But a funny thing, two years ago there were only seven, but they added Texas and another in New York for August of 2012, so (the goal) keeps getting farther away.’’


However, Bill has his mother’s sharp competitive edge.


“It’s just the self-fulfillment,” he said. “To reach the goals, and you are able to say you did it.’’


Athletes, like mothers and sons, share the same feelings.



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