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69-year-old record-setting runner seeks latest title in Naples Half Marathon

Gary Romesser, 69, runs about 90 miles each week, training twice a day toward adding another run record to his long list of achievements.

“The national record for my age group for 70-year-olds is one hour and twenty-five minutes for the half marathon, so I’m hoping in the Naples Half Marathon next January that I can go for it,” Romesser said.

If he breaks that time, he’ll face a different challenge: finding space for another award! Right now, his South Fort Myers home is full of dozens of medals, trophies, plaques, and signs of his many accomplishments since he started running as a teenager.

“In high school, I was kind of searching for some direction and I was encouraged to try running,” Romesser said. “My school had never been to the state meet…then we went on to get third in the state. I was hooked.”

Romesser would then spend the next five decades setting new records through his newfound passion.

“I got a scholarship to a small school (the University of Indianapolis), and ended up breaking the school record and winning the conference,” Romesser said. “The school record still exists 40 something years later.”

His 53 years of running (and counting) include running the Olympic torch in 1984, winning two gold medals at the World Championships when he was 50, and, at age 60, being inducted into the National Master’s Hall of Fame after breaking 14 National Age records. He’s especially proud of one honor he earned in his hometown.

“We had a big half marathon in Indianapolis where I’m from and I ended up winning that five times which nobody else had ever won it twice so how cool in front of my hometown that I could show my love for running.”

As much as he loves competing, he’s even more passionate about helping others achieve their running goals.

“I just love coaching,” Romesser said. “I try to be a role model for others because I know it’s healthy.”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
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