2017-04-21 / Front Page

Senior marathoner goes the distance

Simi man places third in ‘80 and over’ category in Los Angeles
By Melissa Simon


STEADY PACE—Joseph Herzog, 80, of Simi Valley runs with his 20-year-old grandson, Marcus, in the 32nd annual Los Angeles Marathon. The octogenarian came in third in the “80 and over” category, finishing the March 19 run in 6 hours and 46 minutes. 
Photo courtesyof Herzog family STEADY PACE—Joseph Herzog, 80, of Simi Valley runs with his 20-year-old grandson, Marcus, in the 32nd annual Los Angeles Marathon. The octogenarian came in third in the “80 and over” category, finishing the March 19 run in 6 hours and 46 minutes. Photo courtesyof Herzog family Joseph Herzog has competed in more than 40 marathons over the past 35 years, with last month’s Los Angeles Marathon marking the latest milestone for the Simi Valley resident.

At the age of 80, Herzog came in third in the “80 and over” category at the 32nd annual L.A. Marathon March 19. One of 12 runners in the age group, Herzog finished in 6 hours and 46 minutes, according to official results.

In total, about 25,000 participated in the Stadium to the Sea course, a 26.2-mile route that started at Dodger Stadium and ended at the Santa Monica Pier.

“When I started training six months ago, I was just hoping that I’d be able to finish the marathon,” Herzog said. “And when I did finish, it was an emotional moment for me and the tears just started rolling down because my children—Theresa, Joe and Robert—and grandchildren were there.”


ACCOMPLISHED RUNNER—Joseph Herzog shows his medal and third-place plaque from last month’s Los Angeles Marathon. 
MELISSA SIMON/Acorn Newspapers ACCOMPLISHED RUNNER—Joseph Herzog shows his medal and third-place plaque from last month’s Los Angeles Marathon. MELISSA SIMON/Acorn Newspapers His oldest grandson, Marcus, a 20-year-old engineering student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, took some time off from school to participate in the marathon with his grandfather.

“It was such a blessing that Marcus came down to run with me because even though he’s a faster runner, he stayed with me the whole time to keep me focused on the finish line. That was extra special,” Herzog said.

Although he’d at one time planned this year’s L.A. Marathon to be his last race, the octogenarian said he has no intention of slowing down now. On Sept. 24, the native of Austria will compete in the Berlin Marathon in Germany with about 40,000 other runners.

Fast-paced

As a young boy in Graz, Austria— about 120 miles south of Vienna—he loved running and playing soccer, Herzog said.

Prior to settling down in Simi Valley in 2002, he lived in Canada from 1954 to 1965 and then Monrovia, Calif. While working as a plumber at Pasadena City College, he would run the 10 miles from his home to the college campus.

In 1982 at the age of 45, Herzog competed in his first marathon in Fresno.

“That was my fastest time at 3 hours and 41 minutes, but I also learned a lot from that race because I had never run in a marathon before and was very inexperienced,” he said. “Now, I’ve been running ever since and have learned something every time.”

Some lessons learned, he said, are to always drink water to avoid cramping up and to wear knee braces and socks made specifi- cally for runners.

Herzog has competed in 43 marathons, including events in Santa Barbara, Portland and Chicago and in 29 of the 32 L.A. Marathons. He’s participated in international marathons in Germany, Austria and Canada.

“When I was 71 or 72 years old, I ran a marathon in Austria, and the next day, I saw in the paper that I had gotten first place. But I was the only one to finish in the 70-to-75-year-old category,” Herzog said. “My son, Joe, likes to joke with me that I may have finished first, but I was also last.”

When it comes to training, Herzog said he “loyally dedicates” three hours, six days a week to exercising at the Simi Valley YMCA. His routine includes a session on the elliptical machine, spinning on a stationary bike and participating in a boot camp.

And for six months prior to marathon dates, he adds in a daily 11-mile run, starting at the YMCA and heading up Alamo Street to Erringer Road before doubling back.

Herzog said he’s followed this exercise routine since he retired at 66 years old in 2003.

“I may be retired but I still love running,” he said.

“If people think you can’t or don’t have to do anything (active) once you retire, that’s a huge mistake. You’ve got to keep moving and that’s why I run. I love it because it challenges me.”

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