Monday, February 1, 2010

Meet Paul Gionfriddo, 86 Years Young

I may have been a slacker this past weekend by no running at all but I haven't been a complete slacker since the Icebreaker. On Friday, after work, I was able to get in 6 miles and felt surprisingly well. I ended up averaging about 8:05 pace and didn't feel the marathon still in my legs at all. Then today, Mike and I went 5 miles and I did feel the marathon in my legs. I think I averaged close to 8:45 pace tonight. It was good though.

I do now want to introduce you to one amazing marathon runner. His name is Paul Gionfriddo.

Paul is a young 86 years old and ran this year's Icebreaker Marathon. He ran last year's Icebreaker as well. So far Paul has run 105 (I think) marathons total so far. The crazy thing is that he didn't start running until he was 68 years old! He was just featured on one of our local TV News stations. I had a chance to talk to Paul for a short bit during the marathon. Every time I passed him, I gave him encouragement and sometimes a high 5. He was always courteous and very kind to all the runners. After I was done and was picking up my stuff, there Paul was trudging along now at a half the time running, half the time walking. I was able to walk with Paul for a bit and just chit chat with him. Turns out Paul lives in the same city as I do and only about 5 miles down the road.
The Icebreaker officially ended when the clock hit 6 hours and at that time, there was only 1 more runner still on the track. Paul. But something that the race director, Chris Ponteri, does, is that he does not let anyone behind. Chris stayed there and encouraged Paul the entire way. When the official timers and lap counting equipment was taken down, Chris became Paul's official lap counter. The running track was now open to other runners but Paul kept moving. I really wish I would have stayed to see this but on his final lap, Chris was able to get some of the walkers and runners to give Paul a big hand and applause as he finished. Paul is not listed in the official results but as far as the Icebreaker is concerned, he is an official finisher.
Paul is a pretty cool guy and I hope to be able to be running when I am 86 years young. He is a true inspiration to me as well as a lot of other runners in the area.
Congratulations Paul!


Mark said...

Great story!!

Beth said...

Thanks for sharing Paul's story! What an inspiratation you both are.