EAST AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — To Ed Russell, age is just a number. He may be 76 but the amount of races he runs in are far beyond his years.
“If I didn’t run I wouldn’t be what I am, I’m sure of that," says Russell.
Ed Russell found his passion for racing long before he began running. It began on the track, drag racing in the '60s. It wasn't until 2008, when Russell was finally convinced to race in a half marathon with his legs, not a motor and four wheels. Two years later and Russell was running more than 100 races per year. Over the last six years he's ran an average of 500 miles per year in local and national competitions.
“I did [five miles] in an hour and six minutes, there were some people that ran the whole 10 miles in that time, but they’re not 77 years old," Russell says. "'I’ll get to the finish, it may take me a little longer than it takes you, but I’ll get to the finish.’"
Russell competed in the Walt Disney World "Dopey Challenge" last year, a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon on four, back-to-back days. He's also become fully invested in local competition, hosting a number of Kenyan runners from overseas when they come to Western New York to compete.
Russell says it's the camaraderie amongst runners that keep him competing week in and week out, noting that he's made dozens more friends in a handful of years running than he had after working 60 years in the automotive industry.
“In my age group in Buffalo there are four or five people that are much faster than I am and you know what, I talk to them and they all say the same thing, ‘Gee we’re slowing down!’ I say ‘Yeah welcome to the club.’”
Russel admits though he is slowing down, opting out of a few more races each year than he did the previous. But says his spirit for running will never go away.
“When I die I want to die healthy, which makes no sense at all because obviously you won’t be healthy if you die, but that’s the way I look at it," Russell says. "I'm going to run until I die."