Ahead of his half-marathon on Sunday, 85-year-old Gerald “Gerry” Miller will likely have a bowl of oatmeal topped with raisins and a bit of Greek yogurt.
This isn’t Miller’s first race, let alone his first marathon, and he knows what he needs to fuel his run.
Since he began long-distance running at 58-years-old, Miller has run more than 40 marathons — including New York, Boston, Berlin and Tokyo.
This Sunday in the Calgary Marathon he will be running with bunny ears on, a signal that he is a “pace bunny,” with the aim to bring in runners at the two hours and 30 minute mark.
“[I’m] going to help pace the slower runners and charity runners … I’m the oldest ever grandpa pace bunny,” he said.
“I’ve always liked to keep moving,” says Miller, who in 2021 placed first in the men’s 80 plus category for the inaugural Abbot World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group world championships in London.
It was an invitation by his son to run 19 kilometers with him that hooked Miller, who had only done shorter runs in his school and university days.
He qualified for the competitive Boston Marathon after running his first ever marathon in Vancouver.
Miller says he’s “grateful” to be able to do what he does and share his passion with others.
Miller’s running buddy Daron Wong says that he is the model for the energy and attitude he wants to have about running.
“He always amazes me and he still amazes me today,” said Wong.
“Everybody wants to be in great shape and be running like Gerry when they’re when they hit that age.”
Wong says what Miller, who he met about a decade ago, has taught him the value of consistency and to “trust the training.”
Miller approaches running meditatively. He says often it takes “digging deep”, like when he ran in New York and had a bad fall which left blood on his face, or when he got hypothermia during another race.
“In many of those situations, it is the mindfulness that kicks in and says, ‘Gerry, just keep going, even if it’s a little slower.'”
Miller’s family will often run the tail ends of races alongside him, and keep a Guinness beer cold and ready for him after the race. But he says they do question him about when he’ll hang up his shoes for good.
“In my heart, I feel OK. If I can do it, I will relax and enjoy it,” he said.
He says he knows every run might be his last, but in the meantime he’s going to keep at it.
On Sunday 6,200 people are registered to run the Calgary Marathon, and just 72 of them will be over 70 years old.
Miller will be the second-oldest in the crowd.
With files from Axel Tardieu