Willie Loedolff, affectionately known as “Oom Willie” is a legend in his age category at Hermanus parkrun. Oom Willie not only completed his 200th parkrun on 9th November 2019, he has performed 102 volunteer tail walker duties at the age of 91, an achievement to be proud of.
In a recent post on the Hermanus parkrun facebook page, acknowledgement was given to Oom Willie quoting “It is also amazing to note that he has run 76 times in the VM90-94 age category, the third highest in the world”. Oom Willie says he enjoys being part of all the Hermanus parkrunners on a Saturday morning.
What inspires him? “My health and exercising is of utmost importance to me, I believe when you retire you should get good exercise and stay active. Although old age affects your muscles, hearing and memory, parkrun was one of the events which have encouraged me to keep going and participate. Personal times at my age is not important anymore, but yes, it is also good for the ego to keep track of my records” says Oom Willie.
Oom Willie was a roadrunner since 1983, participating in all distances from 10km to 100km with SA grade records in most of them. He also participated in master athletics in the 800m, 1,500m, 2,000m steeplechase, 5,000m and 10,000m where he achieved SA age grade records. Besides all the other road running events in SA he also participated and completed 13 Comrades Marathons.
Oom Willie adds: “My message to parkrun runners and walkers is that parkrun gives you the opportunity to exercise and to improve your health in fresh air. Training during the week is important as it makes the actual parkrun more enjoyable. People often think they are not able to participate, but your body and mind are much stronger than you think, don’t just give up. Keep going and eventually your fitness level will increase and the 5km will become easy. Besides all of this, it is wonderful to get away from a busy life, meet new people and enjoy nature”.
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