Joan Gary

High School Cross Country Assistant, Elkhart Christian Academy

I’ve run 45 marathons. I’ve raced ultramarathons. I’ve been there done that. I ran in Alaska, and all around the world. Vacations were always around running. One of the funny ones was the Los Angeles Marathon. I was running down the street and there was a sign for margaritas. I thought it was a joke, so I got one. But no, it was a margarita. It was hilarious — you never know what amusement you’re going to have.

Being a runner, I knew coaches over here in Goshen and was involved with the high school and at the college. We would come over to the cross country meets, and we liked the town. People kept telling us, “Why don’t you move to Goshen?” We really loved it. The whole town is just so well-kept, and all the people around town, at Greencroft, and all the runners –– everyone is so caring. I eventually moved here to Greencroft. It really makes me feel good, we made a good choice. I can’t say a thing bad about the whole community or Greencroft. I’m just in awe all the time, to think that I was able to move here.

I help out at cross country meets on Saturdays with Elkhart Christian Academy. Once at a meet, one of the coaches came over to me and said, ‘What are you doing?! How old are you?’ I said, ‘I’m 81.’ He said, ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t believe it — you’re still here!’ But I said, ‘I want to show the kids that this can be for life.’ It gives me life, too. I love it. I think it’s so important to keep busy. It makes me feel good, it makes me feel like I’ve done something for the community.

My husband never ran. He had several heart attacks and heart surgery. At 70, the doctor told him to go run with me. My husband said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. Run?! I’m too old.’ The doctor said, “No, enjoy life. Run with her.” He started running. He ran the parade run. He was last, but he said that when he came into the fairgrounds in front of the grandstand, he got the biggest cheer of his life. It was an inspiration to me that as you get older, you don’t have to lay down and die. Live! I did.

Editor • Liz Shenk Interview + Photography • Ashley Ganger

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