If you look at George Etzweiler’s most recent accomplishment, you might assume there isn’t a mountain he can’t scurry up. Yes, even at 98 years old.
The retired engineering professor from State College, PA finished the Mount Washington Road Race for the 13th time on Saturday, reaching the summit in 4 hours, 4 minutes and 48 seconds, a full minute faster than last year.
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This isn’t some light jog on a flat course either. At 6,289 feet, Mount Washington, located in New Hampshire, is the tallest mountain in the northeastern United States, and the race requires competitors to climb 7.6 miles up its paved road.
The first time Etzweiler took on the monstrous challenge? He was 85 years old.
“In 2005, when I was 85, I went up and ran it, and while I’m going up, I’m wondering why in the world I’m doing this, and I don’t think I’m going to do it again,” he said in the short film “Long May You Run.” After I get rested, and I’m halfway down the mountain, I think, that wasn’t so bad. I think I’ll try it next year.”
Now more than a decade later, Etzweilter is still churning those legs up steep slopes. He completed the iconic mountain race in 2018 with his grandson, Bob, and two of his trainers.
According to Runner’s World, Bob asked his grandfather if he had everything about a mile into the race.
“You forgot my wheelchair,” Etzweiler said with a chuckle.
But, everyone knew that was the last thing he needed. On his way to winning two medals (one for taking first in his age group and one for having the fastest age-graded masters time), he only stopped to re-hydrate with tea and lemonade.
His goal is to hit the summit again in 2020, when he’s 100 years old, according to Centre Daily. And at the rate he’s going, who are we to say he won’t get there?
In 2017, he was inducted into the Mount Washington Road Race Hall of Fame and it’s fair to say he’s a celebrity in the region.
Even Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray made a special trip to meet Etzweiler on Saturday.
Congratulations, George Etzweiler, for making every mile and every year count.