Garth Barfoot’s training regimen has been fairly simple: daily runs to his favorite coffee shop and back home.
“It’s a decent distance from the retirement home,” Barfoot said.
The 87-year-old New Zealander, who lives in a suburb of Auckland, is the oldest participant at this year’s marathon. About 60 other registered runners are at least 80 years old, according to the New York Road Runners Club.
At just under 3 hours, he was nearing Mile 8 with an average pace of 22 minutes 27 seconds per mile.
This won’t be Barfoot’s first marathon — he says he has run dozens of others, including last year’s London Marathon, which he finished in 8 hours 17 minutes and 19 seconds — but it is his first New York marathon.
“I’m getting decrepit by the hour,” he said in an interview, noting a series of health issues, in recent years, including a heart valve transplant and three hip replacements. “So I’ve got to sort of hurry up and do this race before it’s too late.”
Barfoot didn’t really get into running until his 50s, inspired by his wife, Judy.
These days, though, she doesn’t always support his exercise regimen, he says.
“’Must you run every day, Garth?’” Barfoot said his wife says, adding, “’You don’t have to do that — this is a retirement home.’”
He’s the only marathoner who lives in his retirement home, but the routine lifestyle of living there makes training easy, he said.
His running group gets him in touch with younger people, and his runs help him spend time away from home.
“The ambient noise of old people talking loudly to each other is so much,” Barfoot said.
He has, however, felt a lot of support from his retirement community ahead of the marathon.
“They sort of take a bit of pride in me,” Barfoot said. “I think they think I’m a good advertisement for retirement homes.”
He has one clear goal for Sunday’s race: “I’m looking forward to not falling over.”