Rod McGregor, 61, Hudson, Ohio
There’s a saying that “children give you a second chance at life.” Rod McGregor agrees, since he was inspired by his daughter to get back on the track again after 30 years.
A current resident of Hudson, Ohio, Rod loved running in high school, and chalked up league championships in the 880-yard race in 1974 and 1975. But once he got started on a career and family, he hung up his competition cleats.
In 2012, Rod noticed his daughter Kate’s own running passion was flagging. “Her high school freshman and sophomore years in cross country ended in injury,” he explains. “She was sick of getting hurt and frustrated, and I could sense she was losing interest. I didn’t want to see her throw in the towel, so I told her I would start running with her.” However, Rod says he was “completely out of shape” and first had to lose 20 pounds so he could keep up with her training.
Kate got healthy as a junior and qualified for the Ohio high school state meet in cross country. Rod got hooked on running again and looked for opportunities. Hearing that the National Senior Games would be in nearby Cleveland in 2013, he decided to get serious. He trained hard, lost more weight, and won a silver medal in the 800-meter race in the 55-59 age group as his Kate cheered him on.
“My friend Steve Brumwell from California came in third,” he recalls. “He told me I had an unfair advantage, because every time he came around he heard Kate’s voice yelling at the end of the track.”
Rod continued to compete in masters track and road races, and returned for the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Birmingham, taking a bronze medal in the 800 race for 60-64 age group. However, he is still haunted by that race. “I thought I was going to win,” he says. “I had a 30-meter lead with 200 to go, and I was passed on the homestretch. I’ve replayed the race a thousand times in my head. I should have pushed hard in the second lap. By the time those guys passed me, I didn’t have time to respond. I’ll know better next time.”
While Rod had to settle for the bronze, he says he’s happy to be among good company. “The cool thing about Senior Games is that it’s like a brotherhood. We want to beat each other, but it’s not like we’re at each other’s throats. When you see the other guys putting in the time and effort and miles, there’s a huge respect for one another.”
As an example, he adds that the two runners who finished ahead of him (Gary Plank of Arizona and David Schmanski of Tennessee) and another athlete will be going to the USATF Masters Indoor Nationals in March to try to break the Men’s 60-64 record in the 4×800 relay.
Rod is proud for himself, but even more for Kate. “She’s another redhead like myself, and we’re very similar in a lot of ways,” he observes. “She didn’t compete in college, but she runs a lot and enters 5K races. She also has an interest in coaching. Around here we stress running for life, and I’m sure she will.”
With renewed goals to continue in Senior Games, so will Rod McGregor.