At Age 86, He’s the Man to Beat

Post a Comment » Written on March 30th, 2007     
Filed under: News
LYNDHURST, OH (March 30, 2007) – John Means is the man to beat in national senior track competitions.

Last weekend, the 86-year-old member of Bethany Covenant Church in Lyndhurst, Ohio, set the national record for the 200M in the Men’s 85-89 Division with a time of 37.09 at the Masters Indoor Championship, according to USA Track and Field. Means also repeated his 2006 gold medal performances in the 60M and 400M.

MeansMeans is going to run out of room to display the medals he has won over numerous years. Last year went especially well: he captured gold in the 100M, 200M and 400M sprints at the Ohio Senior Olympics, was named MVP for the Over The Hill Track Club, and the USA Track and Field Association awarded him the National Age Group Award for Men 85-89.

Gail, his wife and his “coach and inspiration,” travels to meets with Means. She helps keep track of his stats.

Means has been running since he was 50 years old. “I was flying a desk and figured I needed exercise, so I started jogging,” he says. He eventually ran 5k and 10k races on a regular basis, where he experienced success.

Just before he turned 70, he experienced what could have been a major setback. He suffered a heart attack, and the doctor advised him not to engage in such strenuous activity. “So I switched to sprints,” he says, chuckling.

Means works out three times a week lifting weights, stretching, and covering a mile by walking and running. He tries to watch his diet, but his training level enables him to deviate at times. “I love bacon and eggs,” he says.

Means says he loves the thrill of competition, but friendships and faith motivate him to run. “There’s a lot of camaraderie among the older athletes. We travel around the country and we see the same guys at the meets.”

He adds, “One of the main reasons I run is so I can stay active for the Lord.”

Means and his wife, Gail, have been active at Bethany since they began attending in 1982. He still helps with Vacation Bible School.

Children love his character named Otto, who returns to the VBS each year, says pastor Stacey Littlefield. “They’ll come running up to him in the grocery store yelling, ‘Otto!’ ”

“He is one of the most wonderful, delightful people you would ever want to meet,” Littlefield says.

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