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Keeping pace: Runner still active at age 82

Staff writer

Jim Christensen, 82, of Marion has been running competitively for at least 39 years. He now competes in the 80-to-84–year-old age group.

His latest achievement was a first-place finish in the mile run on the Fourth of July at the Fire Cracker race at Derby.

In 2020, he ran the two-mile Nov. 20 at the Turkey Trot in Wichita, placing fourth. He finished fifth in the same race in 2021.

Jim always has been a go-getter.

“Ever since I was a kid, I was the last one to bed and the first one up,” he said.

He was a star football player in high school. Later, he worked for his father, Lynn, in the equipment business and eventually took it over. He was known as the “appliance man” at Straub International until he retired in 2006.

Jim began jogging when he started to have health issues, and his doctor, Jeff Martin, told him that he needed to lose weight.

Changing his diet didn’t seem to help, so he started a daily exercise regimen that alternated between walking and running. He eventually reduced his weight from 250 pounds to 195 pounds.

“I was running just to get in shape,” he said, “but I got better and better and started entering more races.”

He has earned many awards.

“I’m not as fast as I used to be,” Jim said. “It takes me about an hour to run four miles every day.”

When his leg muscles began to tighten up, his wife, Judy, persuaded him to join her in the pool every morning at Marion Sports and Aquatic Center.

He gets up at 4:10 a.m. and swims between 5 and 6 a.m.

“If I do that, my muscles don’t get as sore when I run,” he said.

The biggest change he has seen in competitive running is the use of an electronic chip to record time. His chip starts recording when he crosses the pad at the start line and ends when he crosses the same pad at the finish.

Younger, faster runners almost ran over him at the starting line, he said, but now it doesn’t matter where he is in the lineup.

“It’s really top notch,” he said.

Jim ran the two-mile Saturday in the Easter Sun Run in Wichita.

“I enjoy running,” he said. “Sometimes I’m disappointed, but that gives me an incentive to work at it a little more.”

Last modified April 20, 2022

 

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