She’s going for 20 consecutive years in the 5K.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
When the starter’s pistol is raised for the Syracuse Festival of Races on September 30, Nancy Auster will carve out her small place in American road running history. At 86-years-old, Auster seeks not only to defend her national master’s title in the 85-89 age category, but also aims to complete the five-kilometer course in New York’s fifth-largest city for the 20th consecutive time.
A retired Distinguished Professor of Economics at the State University of New York — Canton, Auster finished the inaugural Syracuse Festival of Races event in 1993 at the age of 67 and has not missed one since. The only person, male or female, aiming to complete all 20 editions of the event, Auster has drawn the attention and adoration of race director and founder Dave Oja.
“What Nancy is very close to accomplishing is unbelievable,” said Oja in a statement provided by race organizers. “It’s a combination of discipline, determination, health, fitness, lifestyle choices, family support, and amazing good fortune that’s as eye-popping and inspirational as any of the world-class 5K performances for which the Syracuse Festival of Races is known.”
With her 45:33 performance of a year ago, Auster now owns four of the fastest single-age performances in race history. But it is the streak that tops any type of age record or national title.
“Imagine a 22-year-old, fresh out of college, being able to record a streak of twenty consecutive years finishing the same race on the same weekend without a single miss,” said Oja. “Not a single year with an illness or injury. Not a single year with an important family event scheduled for race day. Not a single year with an employment or social obligation on race day. Not a single year with a lapse in motivation to train or to race. That would be an impressive streak, even for someone who starts it in his or her twenties.”
If Auster does complete the race, she will be the only 86-year-old ever to do so. According to USATF.org, Auster is the only woman over the age of 85 entered in the race, which is hosting the USA Masters 5K Championship for the fifth consecutive year.