Jon Mendes, 90 year old marathoner

By Elizabeth Thielke / Posted on 28 December 2010

John Mendes, a retired Marine colonel and a World War II and Korean War veteran, completed the New York Marathon this year, four days after his birthday. Well, he walked it, but the birthday was his 90th, and this was his 12th time completing it. He became the 9th oldest finisher, and if he completes it again at age 94, he’ll hold the record.

Why does he do the marathon at his age? Mendes notes:

“You’ve got to have goals in life or you wither away,” said the elfin Mendes, who stands 5 feet 6 inches on his tiptoes, weighs 160 pounds, hums jauntily while he walks and inevitably draws disbelieving looks when strangers learn his age. “It’s no disgrace to fail, only not to try.”

His achievement is even more remarkable in that he didn’t start running until he was 46, and that was after giving up a two and a half pack a day smoking habit. I was sitting here contemplating my need to get in shape, and some mysterious pain in my ankle, but it seemed rather insignificant after I saw this:

Perhaps we can all do a little more than we think.

(Photo: Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Randall A. Clinton)

-Elizabeth Thielke


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