Usually when a three-generation family heads out for a weekend of fun and physical activity, wondering if grandma might be able to keep up would seem to be a valid question.
In the case of the Freas brood, it’s the other way around.
You see, this household is led by 63-year-old Gert Freas, who just happens to be one of the fastest runners for her age group this side of the Susquehanna.
She’s finished as high as 18th in her division at the Boston Marathon, so what more do we need to say.
Well, it’s interesting to note that a number of her offspring are following quite nicely in her footsteps and that’s more than a little gratifying for the New Britain resident.
“I am a very proud parent of four awesome children and grandparent to 10 absolutely tremendous grandchildren,” she proclaimed in a recent phone conversation.
“I run with my children and my grandchildren. This last race we ran (Chalfont Challenge 5K), two of my grandsons (9-year-old Chase Sands, 28:42, and 7-year-old Kaden Sands, 44:05) and a granddaughter (17-year-old Kira Logiovine, 1st place age group, 22:11) ran. It is a big family thing that we do together.”
Gert’s two daughters (Melissa Freas-Kampf, Jacquelyn Darrah) also enjoy being part of the running family lifestyle.
And the other grandchildren (Abigail, Colton and Austin Darrah) are being “recruited” to take part in shorter distance fun runs just to get a taste of the excitement. No doubt they will be running 5Ks before you know it.
It’s a two-way emotional support group.
“When I’m at the starting line and I know my kids and grandkids are in the race, it’s all hands on deck, get this thing done,” Gert said with a chuckle. “Do the best you can because they are there. You want to be a good role model for them to try their best.
“The license plate on my car is “pain is temporary, your time place on the internet is forever.’ ”
Not too long ago she competed in a 24-hour ultramarathon to see how far she could run in one complete day.
Turns out it was 142 miles, which some people might have trouble traversing in a car.
Freas wasn’t a runner back in her Archbishop Wood High School days when she lived in her hometown of Horsham and actually didn’t take up this form of athletics until she was in her 30s.
The inspiration for the start of her running career came when she entered a benefit 5K not long after her older sister died of breast cancer.
“I just thought to honor my sister I would do this race in Philadelphia,” she explained. “Not being a runner, I wasn’t sure I could run a 5K. I thought it was the dumbest thing on earth.
“But I made it without stopping and that’s when I took up running. That’s when I got the ‘bug.’ I went from 5Ks to ultras.”
What keeps her going, year after year, without showing any signs of slowing down?
“It’s just consistency,” she said. “I’m very consistent. I do track workouts, run every type of distance, from 5Ks to ultramarathons.
“I’m very competitive with myself. I have to be sure I’m going to do my best every time I get to the starting line. I try to be one of the top finishers at the finish line like when I was younger. It doesn’t happen as much but I continue to try.”
When it comes to age-graded ratings, Freas consistently finishes in the high-70s, low-80s, which puts her among the best in Pennsylvania and beyond.
“I check it all the time,” she admitted. “But more for me, I look at my finish time (she’s completed Boston in a PR 3:12). I compare it to my time from 20 years ago.
“With that comes better age-graded.”
Gert’s husband, George, is not a runner but is “super supportive.” He’s a recently retired police officer.
She worked for an insurance company for a number of years but now she’s moved on to become a personal trainer and running coach. Those interested in learning how to become a faster runner can contact her at email@example.com
And most recently she’s volunteered her services to the Bucks 5K Series, which is about to complete another successful season.
“It’s super rewarding,” she said. “I had been running these races for years, so I went to Dick (series director Dick Patterson) and said ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’ He embraced the idea that I join (the committee), so I’ve been helping for about four years. It’s a great group to work with.”
Advice to runners getting up there in age who simply don’t want to slow down?
“Stay healthy,” Freas said. “Set your goals. You have to be focused, even if it’s a small goal. Train for that goal. That’s what it’s all about.”
Sunday, June 18
Break-Fast 5K/10K, 8:30 a.m., Doylestown. Contact www.runsignup.com