Don Osborne modestly attributed his nonagenarian division, second-place-finish in to another runner’s mishap.
Osborne just barely qualified, for that matter, since his 90th birthday was on Halloween. The other over-90 competitors in the 5K run were all older than him. He said he mostly walked or shuffled to the finish line, though at his age and recovering from heart surgery, most people might consider that a glorious finish.
He certainly makes up with longevity what he lacks for speed, having been running since he was a teenager.
Osborne boasts he finished the Boston Marathon four years in a row — from 1944 to 1947 — and his best time was a respectable 3 hours, 15 minutes and 10 seconds. He laughed, however, when he was informed that someone said he was once called "the terror of Maine" on the running circuit.
"I wasn’t that fast," he said.
When he was young and living in Maine, Osborne ran races all over that state. Later, he attended Gordon College in Massachusetts, he managed to train with Gil Dodds, who was known as "the flying parson" when he won several AAU indoor mile championships in the 1940s.
Osborne said he got his divinity degree and served as a Congregational minister for churches in nearby Stony Creek, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont. He stopped running after he moved to Vermont, because the sport wasn’t very popular there.
He also taught science, math and social studies to elementary school students after ending his career as a minister.
In 1976, during that decade’s "Running Boom," Osborne said he tried to get his youngest son to join his high school cross-country team by challenging him to join him in a local road race in Searsport, Maine. He said he would run the 10K event if his son would run the accompanying 1.5-mile fun run.
He hadn’t run in 27 years and only had two weeks to get ready, but he still managed to finish 12th. However, he is quick to note there were only 13 participants.
"I was about 55 at that time," Osborne said. But he caught the running bug again, and began running road races ranging from 5K (3.1 miles) to the half-marathon (13.1 miles). He ran 40 races in 1983, which averages about one race every nine days.
About two years ago, he experienced shortness of breath, dizziness and nausea while running, which turned out to be symptoms of heart problems.
"Runners are always told to listen to their bodies, and I didn’t like what it said," he said.
That led to heart surgery in March 2010, requiring a heart valve replacement and a double bypass procedure. "Right now I’m trying to get back in shape," Osborne said.
But he continued to exercise and managed to complete five running races in 2011, including the Chili Chili Run, "but I was only an 89-year-old kid last year."