Carol Wright breaks barriers at 79

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As Carol Wright, 79, made her way through “Seven Small Towns” – from Hopkinton to Boylston Street – in the 2021 Boston Marathon last week, she was “quite devastated” by the time she reached Heartbreak Hill.

“Once you get on Heartbreak it’s supposed to be the time to celebrate but I was moving pretty slowly at this point,” Wright said, “But the spectators, who are always fantastic, started to cheer me on and c was exactly what I needed to go the last 6 miles.

Wright, from Sandpoint, Idaho, was the oldest runner in this year’s marathon and placed sixth in the 75 to 79 age group. The elite runner has competed in six Boston marathons in total, including the October 2020 virtual run. While she admits this year’s run was not “her best moment,” she said that it was still a “realization”. She clocked at 5 hours, 27 minutes, 18 seconds, according to the 2021 Boston Marathon records.

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“I think I can be an inspiration because a lot of people say I’m too old to run,” Wright said. “But I know if you want it enough you’ll find a way to do it.”

Paying homage to Cape Town

Much of the race for Wright – who faced 11 other women in the 2021 age group – then comes to Cape Cod to pay tribute to Johnny Kelley, who is often known as the “Marathon Man,” said Wright.

Every year Wright and his family, including his cousin Pam Eaton, a resident of Cape Town for 30 years, take a stroll through Johnny Kelley Amusement Park in Dennis. The hike is followed by a visit to Quivet Neck Cemetery in East Dennis, where Kelleyis is buried.

“I read his book ‘Young at Heart’ before every Boston Marathon for inspiration,” Wright said. “I feel associated with him in a way and it feels good to know so much of his history and to remember a man known to have participated in 61 Boston Marathons.”

Kelley ran her last full Boston Marathon at the age of 84. He died in 2004 at the age of 97.

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“You are never too old to start”

Wright’s commitment to running the marathon does not begin and end on game day. The dying athlete, who started his running career at age 70, trains five days a week to prepare for the Boston Marathon, but also other races across the country.

Mike Ehredt, Ambassador, Coach and Healer at Hyland’s, a homeopathic company, is Wright’s coach. By asking Wright weekly and assigning her training drills, the elite ultra-distance runner was able to teach Wright how to achieve her goal of becoming a marathoner.

“When we started, Mike made me run four minutes and walk one. Then we went to an eight minute run and two minute walk, ”said Wright. “He met me on the track doing speed work and taught me how to train uphill and recover. He helped me stay responsible.

Ehredt, who crossed America in 2010 and 2012, stopping every mile to plant a flag in remembrance of a fallen soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that “miles are miles, you be young or old “.

“Your body doesn’t really know any different – it just knows it’s running,” he said. “Whether you’re 70 or 7, you’re never too old to start and you’re never too old to stop running.”

Ehredt, who has nine Boston Marathons under his belt, said he never sees Wright’s age as a barrier. Because, for Wright, “every day is a good day and every marathon is a good marathon”.

“What helps Carol is her discipline, consistency and listening skills,” Ehredt said. “His enthusiasm never faltered.”

Ehredt was chosen to run alongside Dave McGillivray, famous long-distance runner and current Boston Athletic Association Race Director, in this year’s marathon.

Coral Darby, who met and worked with Wright through Hyland’s, said moments after meeting Wright she was “in awe”.

“Carol is remarkable, and I have always been amazed by her humility and her ability to simultaneously be so passionate,” Darby said. “She’s an exception in terms of the elite level she’s at as a runner, but she shows people that no matter what her age, you can always do more.”

Already in training for next year

While the Marathon was her last adventure, Wright, who spent her professional career in accounting, was always ready for a bit of excitement in her life. Retiring at the age of 46, with her late husband Robert Henry Wright, the duo chose to “live off the grid” in northern Idaho for 13 years.

“We moved to a cabin in 1988 and it was so far away that there was no service there,” Wright said. “In the winter, we used snowmobiles to get around and we only had a wood stove to heat us. It was so calm and peaceful and I really got to know who I was there.

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In some ways, Wright believes the remote lifestyle has taught her to be independent and self-sufficient, which is one of the reasons she has already started training for next year’s marathon.

“I want to keep running marathons for as long as I can and I don’t know how long it’s going to last,” she said. “And that could mean I’m the oldest person to run, but that’s okay because every year I get more confident and comfortable and running is the best feeling in the world.”

Contact Rachael Devaney at [email protected]

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