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Finnishing strong at 76

Keijo Taivassalo

A fit, weathered tough face stares back at you. It is 76-year-old Torontonian Keijo Taivassalo. While many his age are getting velcro-sneakers and walking slow, Keijo stands apart. Born in Finland, he calls Thornhill, Ont., his hometown but now lives in Toronto with his wife Elke. The two met in Germany in 1969. Keijo is a retired small business owner and he is also a runner.

Although he started running in 1979, a passion for the sport was really kindled while living for a time in New York. Before starting his own business, Keijo worked for Air Canada and had the opportunity to travel and run all over the world.

Keijo managed to run in his wife’s hometown of Hamburg, Germany, and says one of his proudest moments was running in his hometown of Helsinki while visiting his parents.

The running and training has not stopped. At age 76, Keijo trains with University of Toronto Track Club. This past April, after training hard and qualifying to race, he won his age group at the Boston marathon.

Keijo Taivasslo with his daughter at the end of the 2015 Boston marathon.
Keijo Taivasslo with his daughter at the end of the 2015 Boston marathon.

2015 Boston marathon

Keijo was at the Boston marathon one year after the bombing. It was a bucket list race and his family had come to watch.

After the long wait race morning and lining up, looking down the hill at the start, Keijo was unaware that ahead of him, new to his age group, was a former Colombian Olympic marathon runner and recent 70+ age group winner of the 2014 New York marathon.

The Canadian masters runner ran strong through the cold, wet and rain of the 2015 Boston marathon.

“It was tough. I have run three times Boston but this one was the hardest because of the weather conditions. It was cold, rainy and windy, especially the last two miles. I was very happy at the finish line, especially when my daughter was waiting with her friends to pick me up and put me into their car with heated seats!”

Keijo crossed the line in a time of 3:35:21, nearly four minutes faster than 2014 and won his age group.

 

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