A 66-year-old Lisle resident is attempting to break a record this weekend by running the fastest half marathon for his age group at Flossmoor’s Hidden Gem Half Marathon.
The record Dave Walters, a retired captain for United Airlines, is aiming to break Saturday stands at 1:23:50 for American men ages 65 to 69 years old. His recent training has indicated that he could break the record by more than a minute. Nonetheless, he said he’s pretty nervous in anticipation of the race.
“Any goal you set that you know you’re close to breaking or achieving gets the adrenaline going,” Walters said. “I have been working towards this for a long time and finally the door is opening on the opportunity and all I have to do is get to the start line, stay on pace, not get ahead of myself and put it all together on Saturday morning.”
He’s been trying to break the American record for the past six years. He tried it when he was in the 60 to 64 age group but missed the record by eight seconds. His record-breaking aspirations come from a lifelong habit of trying to push himself.
“I’ve always set goals for whatever I’m doing, whether its flying or running,” he said. “And running goals come pretty natural and this is a way to test myself, so years ago I took out the charts and figured out which records were breakable and this one looked like a reasonable goal.”
His running background started in 1970, at Lincoln-Way High School, which is now known as Lincoln-Way Central. He joined the track and field team, where he went on to win a state championship in the two mile. He also won a state championship while on his cross country team.
After high school, he got a track and field scholarship to the University of Illinois and went on to become an All American in 1977. Thereafter, he tried out for the U.S. Olympic team in 1988 as a marathon runner. He didn’t make it but finished 36th overall.
“Since then (my goal) has been to do as well as I can in whatever marathon I can,” he said. He’s won marathons in his age group in New York City, Boston and Chicago 13 different times.
“It’s a matter of goal-setting and keeping you motivated,” he added.
The Hidden Gem has been recognized by the Chicago Area Runners Association as one of “Chicagoland’s most well-organized and well appreciated races.”
The top three overall finishers in the men’s and women’s divisions will be awarded cash prizes, and the top finishers by class will be recognized with awards. All participants will receive a medal.
Saturday’s race starts at 7:30 a.m. on Flossmoor Road in front of Infant Jesus of Prague school.