Lois rolls on and on
The Gilmores figure Lois has run between 3,500 and 4,000 miles while participating in more than 1,000 races since she began her road-running odyssey in 1989 at age 60.
“We’re not done,’’ said Lois, thinking of remaining race dates. “We race all year.”
Lois, who recently celebrated her 77th birthday, is enjoying an outstanding 2007.
In October, USA Track & Field named Lois its Road Racing Masters Runner of the Year. She will be honored at the Jesse Owens Awards banquet on Dec. 1 in Honolulu.
Lois is the award’s fourth recipient.
“We’re thrilled,” said Wayne, who enters races with Lois, serves as her cheerleader, stat man, trainer and schedule-keeper. “I know (USATF) has become aware of her the last couple years.’’
Lois, who was inducted into the Janesville Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, remains humble and surprised by her latest honor.
“I just can’t believe it. I really can’t,” Lois said. “I’m afraid I’ll trip and break something before I get the award.’’
Last August, Lois broke a 16-year-old age-group record for 10 kilometers (55:27) in the annual USATF meet at the University of Maine. She also has a 10-K world age-group record (55:01) pending.
The Gilmores have participated in 38 events this year.
“We try to do at least one run every weekend,” said Wayne, who is 74, a retired dentist and a former Beloit College basketball player. “We miss a few, but we try to run as much as we can.’’
While Lois takes to running, Wayne meets his mates in an annual alumni basketball tournament each year.
Along with their personal success, the Gilmores have celebrated the joy of watching their grandchildren compete in cross country and track for Janesville Craig High School.
Rachel, a freshman, and Molly, a senior, participated with the Craig girls team in this season’s WIAA Division 1 state cross country meet. Last season, grandson Will, a freshman at Marquette University, competed in the state cross country meet for Craig, along with Molly.
It’s not hard to understand why running is a family affair.
“We all know that grandma is a heck of a good runner,” said son Bill Gilmore, who competes in numerous road runs in the area.
Lois recalled running with Bill in a mother-son event in Lake Geneva.
“They had the run for four years, and we won all four years, so I guess they got tired of us and quit doing the run,” Lois said. “A lot of the mothers were a heck of a lot younger than me.”
Lois has become a national masters age-group fixture—and a symbol of courage, too.
She began running as a release from the emotional depths of breast cancer in 1989. In December 2002, she suffered a stroke, leaving her with a 10 percent chance to live.
“I had a small chance to live,” said Lois. “I had bleeding in the brain.’’
Despite the severity of the stroke, Lois bounced back and competed in her first race the following April.
While the stroke caused her to lose her peripheral vision, she continues to run full speed ahead.
“I only look at my feet and the ground,” said Lois, who mistakenly turned into a pole during a race. “I don’t want to trip on the ground.’’
Any way you look at it, Lois remains a keen competitor.
“I always try to get better,” she said. “I try to do better than the race before.’’
She and Wayne have no intentions of taking it easy.
“As long as I don’t get injured, I will continue to run,” Lois said. “I just love getting out.’’
For Lois and Wayne Gilmore, the sun continues to shine on their backs, and the road rises up to meet them.