Life change: 80-year-old former smoker becomes avid runner, wins Crim age group

George Gawthrop quick smoking decades ago and just completed his 35th Crim race at 80 years...
George Gawthrop quick smoking decades ago and just completed his 35th Crim race at 80 years old. (WJRT)
Published: Aug. 26, 2019 at 2:13 PM EDT
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(8/26/2019) - George Gawthrop ditched the cigarettes decades ago and became an avid runner, winning his age group in Saturday's Crim Festival of Races.

At 80 years old, Gawthrop said if he can run the Crim, anyone can.

"There's not too many people out there actually running at 80 years old," he said.

Saturday marked about 35 Crim races for Gawthrop. He took up running at his daughter's urging while she was in high school decades ago.

"My daughter, she was in cross country in high school and she kind of got me started in the Crim," Gawthrop said. "Of course, I had to throw my cigarettes away. But after that, it was a go."

It became a family affair, with Gawthrop getting his granddaughter racing, too.

"I got her started when she was really young and I always enjoyed running with her," he said.

Fast forward years later, and Gawthrop is still on the move.

"I'm running four days a week now," he said.

Gawthrop said training for the Crim not only helps him focus on his health, but it also builds community. He led a training group for 15 years.

"That's what keeps me going," Gawthrop said. "We've been running with these people and have gotten to know them. It's just fun getting out there and running with them."

That support drives the first-time runner or an experienced runner like him.

"Once you get a person involved in something like that, you find out most will stick with it," Gawthrop said.

Now, he's encouraging others to get "stuck on" the Crim.

"It's really great," Gawthrop said. "It just makes you feel good to get out there and do the Crim."