Setting a Senior example at the Granite State Senior Games
MANCHESTER — They run for a reason.
Each one is personal, from being affected by the Boston Marathon bombing to trying to beat the odds, the runners of the Granite State Senior Games have their motivations.
A dozen runners and walkers turned out for the GSSG 5k and 10k road races and 5,000 meter race walk Sunday morning.
Elizabeth Bunce is 73 years old, lives in Nelson and has a pair of gold medals around her neck for winning the 5k and 10k in her age bracket, Bunce’s eyes tear up as she recounts the bombing in Boston.
“I’ve volunteered for 11 years. I get the best job in the world; I hand out the medals,” Bunce said. “We were situated two and a half blocks away. I heard the bomb and then I saw the puff of white smoke.”
A runner since age 40 who has run in 10 marathons (three in Boston), Bunce said going back next year is important to her.
“I’m going back again,” she said. “My feeling is, all those people that were injured and had amputations, I’d go back for them in a heartbeat.”
For 67-year-old Larry Flint, a former chairman of the GSSG who won the race-walk with a time of 43:11, every day he competes is another chance he wasn’t sure he’d ever have.
Suffering from a rare liver disease, Flint had a liver transplant and his life expectancy coming out of the operation was estimated at less than a decade.
That was 22 years ago.
“I had the liver transplant on a Saturday and I was walking two miles nine days later,” Flint said. “I understood the record was eight days and the nurses wouldn’t let me out (that early) but I went home the ninth day. I’ve always been competitive. I never give up.”
Flint continues to volunteer with numerous services and was out on the race course Sunday morning organizing the 5k and 10k races before slipping on his racing shoes and heading out for his own competition in the race-walk.
“If you rest, you rust. That’s my motto,” Flint said. “I try to be a role model. I was given the gift of life so I give back.”
George Tosatti, 77, is another runner who came to the sport later in life.
“I picked it up at 50. It’s more of a challenge physically now, but mentally it’s easier,” he said. “I meet all these people. They’re great people.”
Stan Garrity, 60, is a retired captain with the Manchester Fire Department who retired last year and began running. He agrees with Tosatti’s assessment of the running community.
“Runners are so supportive of everybody. No matter how fast you run or who you are or where you’re from. People support everyone. There’s no slow runners, just some that are faster than others,” Garrity said. “I feel great. It feels good to feel good. What you’re doing is you’re challenging yourself. Can I do this? It makes you feel better.”
Garrity won the gold medal in the 60-64 age group with a time of 26:09 in the 5k. Tosatti took gold in the 75-79 bracket for the 5k in 35:09.
Steve Horton, 57, won the 5k and 10k gold medals for the 55-59 age groups, finishing in 21:41 and 46:39. Peter Bobryk, 53, won the gold in the 5k and 10k for the 50-54 men’s category in 24:08 and 49:54.
Karen Franks, 53, won the gold in the 50-54 female bracket of the 5k in 32:24. Hazel Palmer, 78, won gold in the 75-79 female bracket in 1:13:20 for the 10k.
Dwight Barclay, 64, won the silver medal in the 60-64 bracket in 30:29 of the 5k. Dennis Towle, 55, won silver in the 55-59 category in 21:42 for the 5k. Steven Snow, 59, won the 10k silver in 55:02 for the 55-59 bracket.
Other participants included Thomas Duyette, 55, who completed the 5k in 26:06, and Jerome McDougle, 59, who ran the 5k in 22:46.
The games continue through Aug. 25. There will be a dinner at the Puritan Back Room on Friday and tickets are still available. Check nhseniorgames.org for information.
Bunce said she hopes to be able to speak at the dinner to impart the importance of being a role model.
“I want to remind people that we are not just athletes but we are elderly athletes,” Bunce said. “When I was 16 (to think) ’she’s 70 years old and she’s running?’ We set an example for all those young people.”