Part 2: Interview With The Fastest 70-year-old Marathoner of All-Time

On December 15th 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida, Gene Dykes ran a 2:54:23 marathon. At age 70. Let that sink in for a moment.

My goodness, that is amazing.

Not only is Mr. Dykes a tremendous athlete, he is also very funny and full of great advice for runners of all levels. We are honored that he took the time to answer some questions.

Here is part two of a two-part interview SeePhillyRun conducted with Mr. Dykes.

SeePhillyRun: What is the best place to run in Philly and why?

Gene Dykes: Of course, that is a highly subjective topic – all I can do is tell you where I like to run.  For my training, I start out on the Cynwyd Heritage Trail.  On short recovery runs, I’ll add a loop in West Laurel Cemetery to bring my mileage to a typical 6 miles.  For longer training runs, I’ll warm up 2 miles until I’m on the Schuylkill River Trail, do the core workout, and then do a 2 mile cool down back.  My long runs usually start out on Forbidden Drive on Saturday mornings with the Shawmont Running Club.  If I’m ever in need of trail work, then the trails above Forbidden Drive are absolutely fantastic.  It’s amazing that a city like Philadelphia has such a wonderful set of trails.

SPR: Besides winning races, what are the really satisfying elements of running for you?

GD: The most satisfying element of running for me is available to everyone.  It isn’t the winning that’s important, it’s setting goals and achieving them.  I’m fortunate that I can set a goal of winning a race, but, really, the satisfaction is reaching the goal, not winning the race.  A good example is the world age group record I beat.  I always said that beating Ed Whitlock’s record motivated my training, and it was beating that time that was the goal, not actually holding the record.  Little did I know that that was exactly how it would turn out.  I beat his time, but I won’t hold the record because the race was not sanctioned.  But, I’m good with that – my satisfaction is derived from setting a goal and achieving  it, and my goal was to beat the time, not to hold the record.

SPR: Any advice to anyone just taking up running? Especially those perhaps starting it a bit later in life?

GD: Out of shape pain is the worst pain there is!  Stick with it.  The more you train, the faster you get, and the more comfortable it gets!  Running is a big world – find the part that appeals to you.  Solitude or running with groups.  Casual or racing.  Roads or trails.  Just go out there and set the goal of beating what that runner in the mirror did last week or last year.  Make that guy your fiercest competitor. 

SPR: Do you have any runs coming up? 

GD: I race practically every weekend!  Last year I did 43 races in 40 weekends.  This year I’m doing longer races, so I won’t be doing quite as many – probably 33 or so.  My year is kind of divided into four seasons – an ultra season that ends next week with that 218 mile Australia race.  Earlier this year I ran two 50-mile races and a 100-mile race.  Then, I’ll start training primarily for the Boston and Big Sur Marathons.  With those done, it’ll be a return to ultras with a whole bunch in May, June, and July.  After that, back to training, primarily for the NYC Marathon.

SPR: What are your goals from 2019 and beyond?

GD: The number one goal is to beat that guy in the mirror!  I’ve improved every year for over 12 years now, and it sure would be nice to continue that streak.  If I do succeed in that, then beating the age group world record in a record eligible race would be something I’d pay attention to. 

Every year I’ll seek out new trail adventures – there are so many incredible races world wide.

Ultimately, I want to win the M120-124 age group at Boston.


Join us soon for our next SeePhillyRun blog post! Have a great weekend!

All the best,