A unique marathon man

Video posted December 14, 2011 in Sports by Rachel Polansky


George Etzweiler is a runner. He has been running in marathons for the last 30 years. He is the captain of his own relay team that he organizes and enters into races.

There is one strict requirement if you want to join Etzweiler's team, The Old Men of the Mountains, you must be over the age of 65. That's right, all team members are over age 65. Etzweiler laughs and says the youngsters are aged 65- 75, middle-aged 75-84, and the old men are 85 and up. Etzweiler is 91 years old, but you would never guess it. He runs three to four times a week, rain or shine, but he says he will have to stop running when the snow starts reaching his knees. His team meets for organized runs at Tussey Mountain every Friday morning at 8:30am. His teammate, 79-year-old Ed Keller smiles and says, "I wouldn't be out here if it wasn't for George. He makes this thing go."

Last month, The Old Men of the Mountains, ran in the 50-mile Tussey Mountainback Ultramarathon. And over the summer, Etzweiler ran in the Mount Washington Road Race in New Hampshire. Etzweiler completed the 7.6 mile run in 2 hours and 49 minutes, becoming the oldest person to finish the race. He was disappointed though. He chuckles and says, "I didn't get first place in that." But, he bettered his time by nine minutes since the last time he ran in the race, in the summer of 2009.

In 1987, at age 67, Etzweiler completed the 26.2 mile New York City marathon. He finished in the top one-third percent for his age group. And he says for his 60th birthday, he ran 60 miles that week. He did the same thing when he turned 72; he ran 72 miles that week.

Etzweiler hasn't always been a runner. When he was 49, he says he was overweight, felt tired in the afternoon, and began feeling weak. His friend gave him a book on aerobics, and he decided to give running a try. After that, he was hooked. He felt better and healthier and he loved it. He says he doesn't enjoy running like he used to, but he knows running is what keeps him alive.

Etzweiler is a retired Penn State electrical engineering professor. Though he hasn't taught in more than 20 years, his teammates say Etzweiler still uses his smarts. He compiles dozens of statistics from previous race results and creates graphs and charts to help his team.

Etzweiler definitely has all his marbles. He may be 91 years old, but he's one of the quickest-- yes, that's figuratively and physically-- men around State College!

Etzweiler on the run

Click here to view photos of George Etzweiler running in the Mount Washington Road Race in New Hampshire in the summers of 2009 and 2011 and the Tussey Mountainback Ultramarathon in Pennsylvania in October of 2011.