Just a number: Senior runner breaks world record

ST. GEORGE — To some, growing older means rocking chairs, bingo and feeding birds in the park; but to others, like 90-year-old Dottie Gray of Kirkwood, Missouri, age is just a number — one much less important than the number of miles she is racking up in races across the county.

Not only is Gray racing at a competitive level, she is breaking world records along the way. At the 2015 Huntsman Senior Games Monday, Gray became the first woman in her age division to ever complete the 3000-meter run, and at an impressive time too: 31 minutes, 13 seconds and 23 milliseconds.

World Record Holder, 90-year-old Dottie Gray runs along the track during the 1,500 meter run event at the 2015 Huntsman Senior Games, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2015 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News
World record holder 90-year-old Dottie Gray runs along the track during the 1,500 meter event at the 2015 Huntsman Senior Games, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2015 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News

“It was exciting,” Gray said, “I wasn’t even thinking about that.”

As if one world record wasn’t enough, Gray attempted to break another one Wednesday morning but fell short of meeting the time needed.

Gray’s journey into athletics began when she was 44 years old, playing tennis, she said. As time progressed, she got involved in other sports, such as running and water aerobics. She began getting more serious about running when she was about 54 years old.

Running, however, is the one sport that has stuck, she said, and it has a special place in her heart. This event in St. George is no exception.

“I’m happy to be here,” Gray said. “It’s a beautiful day and a beautiful country. It’s very scenic.”

The 2015 Huntsman World Senior Games marks Gray’s seventh time competing in the games, Del Moon, the media coordinator for the National Senior Games Association, said, but Utah isn’t her only stomping ground. On top of Utah’s games, Dottie has also competed at every National Senior Games since 1987.

Participants in the 1,500 meter run prepare to start their event at the 2015 Huntsman Senior Games, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2015 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News
Participants in the 1,500-meter run prepare to start the event at the 2015 Huntsman Senior Games, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2015 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News

Gray’s determination, passion and drive to push forward over the years is inspirational, Moon said, which represents what the senior games are all about.

“It’s about healthy, active aging,” Moon said. “It’s about being the best you can be for as long as you can be.”

Staying fit and active is something Gray said is really important to her, and she does her best to stay on her feet and on the move.

“I probably try and work out for an hour a day at least five days a week,” she said. “I take off one if I’m racing – I take off the day before.”

Not only does Gray travel across the country to race in these types of events, but she does so completely by herself. The reason, Gray said, is because she doesn’t really know many people who travel where she needs to, but she doesn’t mind the time alone.

World Record Holder, 90-year-old Dottie Gray runs along the track during the 1,500 meter run event at the 2015 Huntsman Senior Games, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2015 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News
World record holder 90-year-old Dottie Gray runs along the track during the 1,500 meter run event at the 2015 Huntsman Senior Games, St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2015 | Photo by Devan Chavez, St. George News

Following Wednesday’s races, Gray said, she has a final 5K race on Thursday and is hoping to perform as well as she can after a hard week of sweat and work.

While she is not getting any younger and time will eventually force her to take it easy, Gray said, she is going to spend all her time up until that point to competing and pushing herself each and every day. Not because of the health benefits, the awards or the recognition, but simply because it is something she likes to do.

“I just feel really good when I run,” Gray said, “And I just think it’s the thing I want to do.”

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