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Athlete Stories

Dot Sowerby Half Marathon Story (90 year old runner)

Showing us that “you are never too old” to compete, Dot Sowerby, a 90 year old runner from Greensboro North Carolina, is set to join us in completing the Chicago Half Marathon this fall. 

Neither age nor disability can stop her, as Sowerby possesses a condition impacting her speech called Spasmodic Dysphonia, but nonetheless is the oldest participant signed up for the race. Since she was 50, Sowerby has conquered plenty of past races and now also competes in Senior Games events ever since she was 77.

Her son is from Chicago, acting as the rallying force behind the family’s travel to come run the race. Dot will hit the course this September alongside her son Jim Sowerby, daughter Anne Samuels and son-in-law Tommy Samuels. Even though they may not be physically together to train, she said the family finds their ways of staying connected. “We’ve all been exchanging training information and encouraging each other. All of us are looking forward to the event and spending time in Chicago,” she said. 

Sowerby trains almost every day, varying her workouts from longer runs to swimming to exercise classes at the gym. She typically trains early in the morning around 6 am, before she eats or drinks anything. “One of my motivations is to inspire others to keep exercising, no matter your age or circumstance, just get out there and do something,” she said.

Reflecting on her past, Sowerby mentioned societal barriers which deterred her from running. “When I came along in school, they did not let girls run. I took up running when I was 50 years old. At that time, the thinking was, “Women should not run as they get older,” she said. 

Despite concerns from friends as she was getting started, Sowerby’s doctors advised that she keep going and training as long as she felt good. Her doctor’s advice: “Muscles know no age, so work and strengthen them!”

Sowerby said her family is her biggest inspiration for running. With many family members who are runners and memories of her late husband who was “always so supportive” of her running, she has plenty of support to keep training. She said her motto is: “You are never too old to exercise or participate in any kind of adventures or activities.”

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