Friday 23 August, 2019

WATCH: T&T veteran Marathoner sets new mark for 80th birthday

79-year-old runner, Derick McIntyre

79-year-old runner, Derick McIntyre

Meet the age-defying grandfather who has completed over 30 full marathons and is now set to line up for another grueling 26.2 mile course at the upcoming T&T International Marathon. The race will be a milestone event for Derrick McIntyre who will celebrate his 80th birthday in running glory.

It's a journey that began roughly 35 years ago. Derrick witnessed Trinidad and Tobago's very first marathon which went from Freeport to Port of Spain. Rehashing the memory, the 79-year-old grandfather of five recalled that the winner completed the race in 3 hours. He said he made his way to the Botanical Gardens where the winner was celebrated with a trophy presented by T&T's first President, Sir Ellis Clarke around 8:30 am.

Derrick noted that he stayed behind and enjoyed the music as the atmosphere was electric with the sound of the steel band. He said suddenly around 11:30 am, everyone left the Savannah and went out to the roadway. He heard people in the crowd say "look, the old man coming in". He said those gathered went on to cheer on the elderly person, a feat he found to be amazing.

The then 48-year old decided that if an elderly man could do it, he could do it too.

"I said, nah! If he could do that, I have to give it a try. I started doing long distance running around the Savannah from the Monday. I was around the Savannah running from pole to pole. I couldn't run more than from one lamp pole to one lamp pole but I kept on doing it every day until I eventually entered a marathon about a year after."

When one looks at Derrick, one would never guess that he would soon be 80.

He chalked it all up to passion.

"Right now I train every other day. I've been training and running for over 35 years but within recent times because you know, getting older, you don't really compete, you just take part in it for your health. That's my main objective now; to be healthy, to maintain health and to be able to do everything without ever thinking about going to a doctor."

Training for this 79-year-old is five days a week. He has run countless full marathons and almost all half marathons and 10Ks in both Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking about support from his family, Derrick said "I always thank my family because they supported me. My wife never ever quarrelled. I took off leaving 4 o'clock every morning and coming back 7,8,9, 10 o'clock, you know, from training."

He also had a message for the general public - take a run!

"Everybody should get involved in running or walking. Why those two things? Nobody has to train you or teach you how to run or walk. If you want to be a swimmer, the first thing you have to study is to get somebody to train you how to swim. If you think about any other sport, lawn tennis, football, somebody must train you. Running, you could just buy a peer of sneakers, get to the Savannah and start to run."

Derrick said he understands, however, that running isn't for everybody. Tho those who may find it difficult - "Running is for runners and I'm a runner. The day I can't run, I will walk."

Derrick McIntyre doesn’t plan on hanging up his running shoes anytime soon. He’s living proof that it’s never too late to start anything you set your mind to.

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