95 - year old runner Orville Rogers shows no signs of slowing down

There are no training guides for Orville Rogers.

The 95-year-old Dallas man simply adapts interval training workouts in an effort to improve his speed. His techniques are working. He set six world records at the USA Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships in Landover, Md., During the Master’s indoor championships in March. He’s expected to be named USATF Athlete of the Week.

“It was incredible,” said Rogers’ 29-year-old grandson, Steven, who was among the 16 family members cheering Orville at the meet. “I was really proud of how he knew the times to beat and blew by them.” The feat is even more remarkable considering he had a stroke in 2011. Rogers had paralysis in his left foot and left hand and partial paralysis in his left hip. After more than a week in a rehabilitation hospital, he continued as an outpatient another six weeks. He requested the most rigorous rehab they could put him through.

“I had high hopes to get back into competitive running, but nothing to base them on,” he said. “I surprised them. I guess I’m more motivated than a lot of people. I was not going to be discouraged by anything.” Rogers is now analyzing the outdoor track world records. He hopes to challenge the mile and the 800- and 1,500-meter world records at the USA Masters Outdoor Championships, July 11-14, in Olathe, Kan.

“Most of the others probably are not attainable,” he said. “I don’t care how old you are,” he said. “If you don’t have goals, something to look forward to, you lose interest in life,” he said. “I think that’s why a lot of people die early in life.” He’ll continue following the training regime he’s adapted from a former trainer he worked with and nuggets he learned from Canadian world champion Earl Fee’s book, The Complete Guide to Running from 9 to 90. After a deliberate warm-up and stretching session, Roger does a total of 1.5 miles three times a week. He repeatedly jogs two 100-meter laps and then runs one 100-meter lap. He said he starts out slow but runs all out near the end. Rogers, named Orville Curtiss Rogers after two flying pioneers, was a pilot. He served stateside in the Air Force in World War II and in the Korean Conflict, and flew for now-defunct Dallas-based airline Braniff for more than 30 years.

He began running at age 50 after reading Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s book, Aerobics, in 1968. He completed five marathons and ran on every continent. In 1993, he underwent bypass surgery to correct six blocked arteries. He said he had no idea anything was wrong. He recovered quickly and resumed running, he said. “I’m trying to hang in and do my best as long as I can,” he said. “Someone told me: ‘Your objective is to slow down as slowly as possible.’” Dallas relay team captures overall title: The Dallas Dolls and Towel Boyz won the Texas Independence Relay’s overall title after three consecutive runner-up finishes. The 12-member co-ed team traversed the 200-mile course from Gonzales to the San Jacinto Monument, in 19 hours, 50 minutes, 10 seconds. The team, comprised of many of Dallas-Fort Worth’s best runners, averaged a 5:58 per mile pace throughout 200 miles. Dallas Does Houston, another area team, won the Veteran Mixed champion team title, finishing in 26:25:20.

DEBBIE FETTERMAN, Special contributor dfetterman@dfwrunning.com Published: 28 March 2013 10:38 PM