Octogenarian determined to grab title in Bay to Breakers 

Eighty-one-year-old Gordon Barnard is gearing up to defend his title as reigning champion of the 80-plus age group in the ING Bay to Breakers, and he said neither the steep Hayes Street Hill nor invariable weather will hold him back.

Barnard is one of a number of super-seniors who intend to battle for the title despite the many distractions posed by the wacky 12-kilometer race that takes place for the 99th time Sunday.

The New Hampshire resident, who has competed in the race since 2007, said he defeated 15 others in the 80-plus men’s group last year.

He finished in 1 hour, 31 minutes, “which was terrible,” Barnard said. He attributes the time — his worst yet — to the 80-degree weather.

“I think everybody just melted from the heat,” he said, adding that he was lucky to have trained in warm weather before the race.

But Barnard said he was hardly the oldest finisher.

“There was a 90-year-old woman who finished the race, but it took her two hours,” he said.

Barnard doesn’t pat himself on the back for winning distance events at his age — or even finishing them. He credits his parents and grandmother, who lived well into their 90s, for the good genes.

He also credits his parents for stressing the importance of staying active, as he was a track and cross country runner in college, a national bronze medalist in windsurfing in his 50s, a skier and a mountain climber.

His training regimen includes running five days a week and building up for longer races. He’s completed two half-marathons and eats plenty of carbohydrates the night before races.

Barnard’s other secret for success: “One thing is I don’t smoke and don’t drink.”

Winning the Bay to Breakers title is hardly Barnard’s only goal.

“I’ve always wanted to run the Boston Marathon,” he said. “I will do it someday.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

 

Gordon Barnard

Age: 81
Residence: Goffstown, N.H.
ING Bay to Breakers races: 3
Finish times: 1 hour, 20 minutes (2007); 1:19 (2008); 1:31 (2009)
Reason for racing Bay to Breakers: Lived in San Francisco between 1949 and 1954, and The City never left his heart
Athletic history: University of New Hampshire track and cross country teams; national windsurfing age group champion; sprint triathlon; two half-marathons
Why he runs: “[He was] very small in high school and couldn’t play football.”
Diet: Standard breakfast of orange juice, wheat toast with peanut butter, banana for potassium and milk; lunch and dinner include meat, potatoes, vegetables and spaghetti for carbohydrates at least once a week
Reaction to Bay to Breakers festivities: “San Francisco is a great city. They know how to throw a party. It enhances the experience, but the serious runners are going to run seriously anyhow — and I’m a serious runner.”

 

ING Bay to Breakers

Details of the 99th annual footrace through The City:

When: Sunday
Start time: 8 a.m.
Where: Starts at Beale and Howard streets, finishes at Great Highway
Length: 12 kilometers (7.46 miles)
How to register: www.ingbaytobreakers.com
Online registration ends: Noon Thursday

Source: ING Bay to Breakers

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