Langhorne’s Larson proving age is just a number

Jim Larson runs in the 2021 Philadelphia Marathon.

      What would be the feeling if, as we grow older, we kept running faster?

      Well, just ask Jim Larson.

      The 60-year-old Yardley native recently posted a speedy one hour, 36-minute half-marathon time in the Philadelphia Distance Run.

      That’s his fastest 13.1-miler in about a decade.

      The Bishop Egan (now Conwell-Egan) High School and University of Pittsburgh graduate says quick times like this are simply the product of more demanding, consistent training.

      On an age-graded scale, that 1:36 averages out to about 75 percent, or roughly halfway between the regional and national class numbers.

      “I was quite happy with everything at PDR, including the weather,” Larson said in a recent telephone interview. “I like the course, running along the (Schuylkill) river, the out-and-back course so you can see the runners coming the other way.

      “I trained pretty consistently all summer. I was prepared for this race. The first half of the race I ran with my friend, John Wheeler, and he got me in a good consistent pace.’’

      Some of the credit should also go to the Bucks County Roadrunners Club, an organization Larson has been associated with since the mid-1980s. The Langhorne resident is still quite active in the club and enjoys weekly runs both on the “McTuesday Night” schedule and the Saturday-Sunday events.

      Larson played soccer at Bishop Egan but did not run there. He really didn’t pick up that activity until after graduating Pitt.

      “That was 1985, and I’ve been running ever since,” he said. “I’ve running consistently for about 38 years. At Pitt, I had felt kind of out of shape. I had a friend doing the Great Race 10K in Pittsburgh. I thought ‘well, if he can do it, I can do it.’

      “I trained for about two months. That race was my first one. I loved it. I felt so good, felt so much healthier.”

      Around that time Jim also met his wife-to-be, Susan, and learned she had a love for running as well. A perfect match.

      “She’s been running all this time, too,” he said.

      The Larsons have two daughters, Karlyn and Kelly, who both ran cross-country and track for Neshaminy High School.

      Career-wise, Jim has been involved in the computer software business as an engineer. It’s the kind of vocation which allows him time to think and plan out long distance training and racing.

      “Since I’m sitting all day long, you have to do something,” he said with a chuckle. “I think it’s great in that regard. It kind of clears the mind. There are times when I run and I’ll think about a computer problem and the kind of solution I might try.

      “I sit in front of a computer all day so I don’t get much exercise from work. My schedule has a little bit of flexibility now so I can usually fit in the running pretty well.”

      He’s become quite proficient in marathons, having run Boston three times (2011, 2014 and 2023).

      “I didn’t get into longer distances until 1994,” he said. “I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon, so that was my first one. I bought a book about running a first marathon and just followed the training chart.

      “Then I didn’t do my second marathon until 2009.”

      Getting involved with BCRR in 2001 helped with the long stuff.

      “I did all the Winter Series races and I’ve been pretty active in the club,” he said. “I’ve been involved with some of the club’s races like the Bridge-to-Bridge (held last weekend). I used to be the registrar for the Winter Series.”

      Now he’s just entered a new age group, so there’s a little extra incentive to stay fit, train and be ready for even quicker times.

      “The running has kept me in great shape over the years,” he said. “I’ve been lucky with injuries, very few of those.”

      Back in his 40s he ran his best 5K time of 19:59, once again proving that strong performances don’t have to be restricted to youth.

      “I did my marathon best, 3:25, at Gettysburg in 2013,” he said. “In recent years I’ve trained more and increased the mileage. I think it helped that I didn’t get burned out in my earlier years.

      “The club (BCRR) has been a big inspiration. There are always runners who are faster and older than you. They keep you going. And there are always people to run with on Tuesdays and the weekends. That makes a huge difference.”

      Club members such as Joe Boyce, Rick Mingione, Bill Schaffling, Jay Ricco, Pete Lederer and Chris Thompson keep Larson on his toes.

      No question they play a role in inspiring Larson to be highly competitive, like in the PDR performance.

      “I’ve had a few people comment on that,” he said. “They’re surprised that I’m still running that time.”

      As they say, age is just a number.

     >Race calendar

      Saturday

      5K on Market Day, 9 a.m., Newtown. Contact www.runningintheusa.com

      Sunday

      9/11 Heroes Run 5K, 2 p.m., Central Bucks West High School, Doylestown. Contact www.runsignup.com

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About Wayne Fish 2418 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.