Sault Stryders
Running Club

Still running strong
Reported December 22, 2009 by Peter Ruicci for The Sault Star
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Miles, she jokes, are longer when you're 72-years-old than when you're 50.

That observance aside, Armande Pieschke, just two weeks beyond her 72nd birthday, is already thinking ahead six years.

The Sault Ste. Marie woman enjoys running half-marathons (roughly 13.1 miles) on the day she was born, Dec. 6.

"That's special to me," she said.

Pieschke ran one this year in Las Vegas, finishing in second place among women 70-75.

"Every six years my birthday comes up on a weekend," said Pieschke, who's been running distance races for the last 30 years. "And Saturdays and Sundays are when you can find races. I hope to run one when I'm 78. I'll be looking for another place to visit."

Six years ago, at age 66, Pieschke did a half-marathon in Memphis, Tenn.

She estimates 14 marathons and 50, half-marathons have found their way onto her running resume.

Having laced up her sneakers in many North American cities, Pieschke says she's focused now on visiting different places.

Not one to travel as a tourist, Pieschke is unlikely to stray far from home, unless it's for a race.

An avid walker throughout her life, Pieschke's love affair with running began when she entered the Sault's Fall Colour Run in the late 1970s.

Enjoying the people she'd met and the camaraderie, her first out-of-town race was the St. Patrick's Day Run in Bay City, Mich., in the early 1980s.

Shortly after, the native of Lac Magantic, Que., who moved here in 1968, ran her first marathon, in Saginaw, Mich.

She took part in the Boston Marathon once, in the mid 1980s, and estimates she's competed in the Detroit Marathon two or three times.

"Running gives me my medicine for the day," said Pieschke, who, even now, runs four miles daily, five days per week. "After a run, I come back with a lot of energy for the day. I love it."

On the days she runs, the five-foot- five, 108-pounder is on the road between 7-7:30 a. m. She's long had a course scoped out near her home.

"I always feel 100 per cent when I run," said Pieschke, who stopped doing marathons and began concentrating on one-half that distance 11 years ago. "Even when I finish a race, I'm not exhausted."

Her time in Las Vegas was 2:26:58, roughly a minute behind the 70-75 champion. Pieschke finished 4,935th out of 11,376 females. And she was 9,345th out of 17,914 finishers.

"When you think that you're 72- years-old and you can run over 13 miles, you think 'Oh my God,'" she said. "That's pretty good. I have so many friends I've made through running, all over North America. And at the end of races, a lot of people say they hope they can run like me, when they're my age."