I ran a five mile race today with Mrs Happy, my first organized race. Lots of tough hills. But my effort is nothing compared to this old man running. The most amazing part of this race was meeting Clarence Osborn himself. Mr. Runner himself. He's 91 years old. He ran his first marathon shortly after receiving his card to The Glory Land from the Medicare National Bank. Folks, that's over 45 years ago!
We had a great experience seeing hundreds of dedicated men and women doing their best to keep fit. I heard several discuss their late life initiation into the sport of running because "heart disease runs in my family". I heard several pick up the call "because I was turning 45 and I had to do something". I met several doctors, a surgeon a bunch of nurses and respiratory therapists. That always makes me smile to see health care workers walking the walk. They are a true inspiration to their respective professions. But this old guy is nothing short of amazing.
When we know that 80% of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer can be prevented by healthy lifestyles, I for one feel honored to run with other Americans who understand the value of personal choice and responsibility. I can only hope that someday all these folks, me included, are given massive lifestyle discounts on their health insurance premiums, with a much larger portion of the cost being subsidized by the less inclined and more reclined general public.
Old man running is a testament to the power of personal choice in life. Showing a dedication to healthy lifestyles should be rewarded. That is exactly what our health care finance system lacks. Pay for excellence, you get excellence. Pay for mediocrity, you get a race to the bottom mentality.
As a country we seem to want social solidarity for health insurance, but we want nothing to do with lifestyle solidarity. We want to do as we please, but we want to offer no sacrifice for the common economic good. We choose to believe we have access to unlimited resources yet we demand that our individual freedoms not be compromised. We want our cake and we want to eat it too. What we need is a nation of dedicated old men running or else we need to stop pretending that we can pay for the ills of this nation on the backs of the rich and productive. I can only hope I have the courage to continue my journey into advanced age and never stop running, even at the ripe young age of 91. Clarence, you are an inspiration to the world. You are definitely not working the desire to exercise out of your system! This exercise ecard helps to explain.
Fast forward two years later when I found Clarence running the same race up and down the steep hills of this road race. I'm 38 years old and I ran a five mile race today. Clarence is 55 years older than me and he ran the same five mile race as I. We both finished, but he's definitely the winner. Most of my patients half his age can't walk a mile. He's a testament to the power of exercise and health. Go Clarence. Here's a video I took of Clarence in action down the homestretch of his 5 mile run! You should be on Letterman. Or Ellen.
UPDATE 2013: I looked up his time for the 2012 five mile Buffalo Run race. At 94 years old, he completed this five mile race in 1:27:37 at a pace of 17:32. So how is YOUR day going today? I hope he runs the 2013 race at 95 years old!