By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
Maralee Schmidt of Steiner Ranch finished the Texas Senior Games 5K race in less than 24 minutes to win first place in her age group and qualify for the 2017 National Senior Games Competition, also known as the Senior Olympics.
Schmidt crossed the finish line in 23 minutes and 46 seconds at the race held in San Antonio this past April. She finished almost three seconds before her closest competitor and second overall among women in all age groups 50 and older.
She has until summer to prepare for the NSGC, scheduled for June 2-15 in Birmingham, Ala.
But it doesn’t sound like training will be a problem for Schmidt, for whom running is a lifestyle. Every day she runs about six miles, jumps rope for five minutes and works out with weights.
“My running advice is to exercise your age every day no matter what your sport may be. That’s 56 minutes a day for me,” Schmidt said adding, “I have been running for over 40 years. I am on my second lap around earth in circumference, 24,860 miles.”
A self-described “farm girl” from Iowa, Schmidt started running in high school and eventually participated in state competition in both cross country and the mile.
She kept running for personal pleasure during her college years at Iowa State University, which she attended with her high school sweetheart turned husband, Scott.
After college she ran road races even up to days when she gave birth to each of her daughters, Alex and Megan.
Later, when four months pregnant with her twin sons, Luke and Logan, she experienced complications and was confined to bed for the remainder of the pregnancy.
However, by the time the boys were 1-year-old and the family had moved to Texas for Scott’s job, Schmidt was ready to run her first marathon.
She has since participated in several races in support of many causes. “I have trained and done the Tough Mudder, a 12-mile obstacle course. I just did my 7th one in May 2016. This is such a great event for the Wounded Warrior Project,” Schmidt said.
These and other service opportunities inspire her daily chase.
As a part-time tutor last year for a Vandegrift High School college readiness program, she met a student who particularly motivated her when he improved in track because of her advice.
“I honestly believe God gave me a gift of running and I love to use it for others. I really enjoy helping others help themselves with fitness. If there is someone that needs help, they can call me anytime. My motto should be ‘Get Fit for Free with Maralee,’” she said.
Schmidt, a real estate agent for Avalar, said her family is supportive of her pavement pounding. “But, not one of them got the running bug. My husband does not like running – only golfing!” she said.
Nevertheless, Schmidt stays on track.
“I just hope others can get encouraged and participate and have fun. My goal is always to just finish – seriously – and to have fun,” she said.
NSGC hosts 16,000 competitors in 19 events. To participate, athletes must pre-qualify and be at least 50-years-old.