COLUMBIA — The Missouri State Senior Games road race began at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Cosmo-Bethel Park.
The early start didn't bother 70-year-old Ilene Woods, though. She says she finds getting up early to run enjoyable.
Woods' daughters, Lori Lewis and Teri Walden, were out to support their mother, taking pictures and cheering on Woods during different sections of the race — especially at the end to help get her across the finish line.
Woods started running five years ago for fun, but found herself moving away from the activity. She started again this year with training for the 5,000-meter event.
Woods ended up a bronze medal in the 70-74 age division, and she’s already looking forward to next year.
“You have to keep on keeping on,” Woods said.
Nancy Fritsch, 73, received the silver in her age group and just met Woods today. Fritsch admits she likes meeting people through running.
“You run together, you're friends forever,” Fritsch said. "It's a lifetime sport."
Calvin Brous, 62, also participated in the road race.
Brous began running when he was 13 years old, competed in college and has run in the Boston Marathon. He ran track and cross-country at what is now Missouri State University, competing on the track in the 1-mile and 3-mile races, and in the 5-mile races in cross-country.
Brous, who said he will also participate in Sunday's 10,000-meter road race, placed first in the 60-64 age group and second overall on Saturday.
Mike Eaton, 63, placed second in the 60-64 age group and was fifth overall.
Six years ago, he started running year-round because he was unhappy with his results at the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Arizona.
“I did so poorly, I decided I need to run all year round,” Eaton said.
The road race wasn't the only running competition on Saturday morning. Maurine Lia, 79, competed in the Senior Games 5,000-meter race walk.
Lia competed in her first race walk 25 years ago just for fun, joining her daughter at the St. Louis Senior Olympics Race Walk. She placed third, then duplicated the result the next year.
After finishing behind the same two women each year, Lia became intrigued by their fast, “funny walk.” She asked them to teach her.
Lia learned the technique (toes up, heel to the ground, one knee locked, the other leg swinging) and increased her number of medals.
At the 2011 National Senior Games in Houston, Lia won the gold medal in both the 1500-meter and 5,000-meter races in the 75-79 age group.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder