Ray Gildea of Madison, Mississippi is an accomplished runner, having completed 176 marathons and Ultra events to date. He has been to nine National Senior Games, beginning with Pittsburgh in 2005. He is also in the Mississippi Senior Olympics Hall of Fame.
But there’s one thing he has done that makes us feel out of this world. The photo you see is
Ray’s race number bib from the 2011 National Senior Games presented by Humana onboard the International Space Station. It’s from his bronze medal winning 4×100 relay race at the Houston Games.
Ray, who is active with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and has many friends in the space program, managed to arrange for Cosmonaut Col. Gennady Pedalka to take the race bib in his personal kit on a mission in 2012. Ray is told that it may be the only time a race bib has ever been into space.
Ray is looking forward to the 4×100 relays at Ansin Track Complex next Monday, but is listening to his body and has scratched the 10K road race. “I’m kinda redshirted,” he says. “I participated in a 12-hour relay recently so I won’t overdo it.”
“I love the spirit of these Games,” he quickly adds. “I immediately identified with the athletes and was awed by the performances. You have no idea how fast they are going until you are in there with them.”