Everett Luoma is living proof that sometimes slow and steady really does win the race.
Even though the high temperature will likely be well below freezing today in Adrian, Michigan, you can bet that Everett Luoma, 87, will venture outside for a run.
If it’s too cold for his liking, he’ll likely enjoy a longer run at the indoor track at Siena Heights University, where he serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the school’s cross-country and track teams. No matter where he gets in his workout, Luoma just needs to run—he’s kept a running streak since November, 2017, and made a log of each run ever since. Not only that, but he believes he’s on track to achieve Masters All American Standard times for several race distances when he reaches 90.
Last March, Luoma ran the Great Black Swamp 15K in 2:18:59, which is off by about 13 minutes in the 85-89 masters age group. But if his times don’t stall, he has a major lead on the 90-94 age group time of 2:39:25. He’s also posting times in distances like the 5K that have him not far off from his current 85-89 standard.
“I have a tremendous support group, and I think that is very important, otherwise I’m just an old man,” Luoma told Runner’s World. “But I have all these people who give me their respect and keep me motivated.” RELATED STORIESMastering Running as You AgeMarathon Record Won’t Be Ratified
Luoma still participates in half marathons, one of his recent ones being the Glass City Half Marathonlast April, finishing in 3:28:50. And he logs about 25 miles per week without skipping a beat.
How does this 87-year-old keep up a run streak and competitive age-group times? Luoma credits his ability to stay active to his family and friends, many of whom are runners, plus the Toledo Roadrunners, a club of which he’s been a member for more than 20 years.
“THERE’S NO REASON TO STOP BECAUSE I’M HEALTHY ENOUGH TO GO ON THE ROAD. YOU SLOW DOWN, BUT YOU KEEP ON GOING.”
But running wasn’t always been a part of his life. After finishing high school in Minnesota, Luoma served in the Army for two years before attending West Point Military Academy in New York. Three years into his schooling, Luoma said he was medically discharged after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. He took the news and the change in life direction the same way he approaches other challenges.
“I don’t have those ups and downs. I don’t have those disappointments. Life goes on,” Luoma said. “If I had highs and lows, I’d be a better runner, too. I just go by own pace and I enjoy myself.”
After treating the disease, Luoma began running off and on, but started experiencing severe Achilles pain because of major pronation in his feet. After a doctor put padding in his shoes to help support his arches, Luoma, then age 50, decided to take his running more seriously. He never looked back, and he’s been racing for almost 40 years.
“This is what I do. If I would stop, I would be alone,” Luoma said. “There’s no reason to stop because I’m healthy enough to go on the road. You slow down, but you keep on going.”
Luoma might be receiving attention now, but the truth is, his diligence has been a lifelong discipline of just taking one day (or step) at a time at whatever pace he likes it. As he turns 88 next month, one year closer to taking a crack at these top times for the 90-94 age group, Luoma plans to keep running the way he lives his life—by taking it slow and enjoying the view.
A true love for sports