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Meet the 80-year-old who can probably run longer than you

Doyle Carpenter ran 144 miles at a race in Georgia to set a new M80-84 48-hour record

Photo by: Twitter/conlamica

At a 48-hour ultrarunning race called the Merrill’s Mile in Dahlonega, Ga., held from July 3 to 5, an 80-year-old athlete named Doyle Carpenter ran 144.56 miles (232 kilometres) to set a M80-84 age group 48-hour world record. Not only did he go farther than any 80-year-old before him, but Carpenter’s run was good enough for third place overall. Running 144 miles is an impressive for anyone, but Carpenter, who hails from Thorn Hill, Tenn., is no stranger to record-breaking and mind-boggling runs, and he has been running for longer than some of his competitors in the Merrill’s Mile have been alive.

Carpenter’s long running resume

After an August 2017 event called A Race for the Ages (which is a Laz Lake event) in which Carpenter finished in fourth place after running 192 miles (308 kilometres), the Kingsport Times in Tennessee reported that Carpenter, then 78, had run 135 races over a 50-year period. The first listed event on his his UltraSignup profile is a 40-miler in Tennessee, which he ran many times over the years, and since then, he has raced 12-hour events in West Virginia, 24-hour runs in North Carolina and many other races across the U.S. He also has top-10 finishes from the 80s, 90s, 2000s and 2010s, and now, at the start of the 2020s, he has a an overall podium to his name.

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Years of experience

Carpenter’s first time racing the Merrill’s Mile was back in 2016, when he finished 24th overall after running 65 miles. The next year, he came in 21st place with 64 miles on the day. In 2019, he almost doubled up his mileage from his last attempt at the race, running 113 miles and finishing in sixth overall. And this year, he put his other attempts (all of which were still extremely impressive) to shame, making the overall podium. It seems like Carpenter is just getting better with age.

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He’s not the only senior runner producing great results. The second-place finisher in the Merrill’s Mile was a 61-year-old woman who ran 149 miles. In 2016, Carpenter won a 48-hour race in Alabama when he was 77. Second place that day was a 78-year-old. American ultrarunning star Mike Wardian tweeted about Carpenter, saying what most runners probably think when they see him and other 60, 70 and 80-year-old athletes: “Future goals.” We don’t all have to break world records when we’re 80, but hopefully we’ll still be able to run at that age, just like Carpenter.