Speeding up at 94
February 3, 2021
Today is National Girls & Women in Sports Day! The COVID-19 outbreak has put organized sports to a standstill. Yet, Eugene Civic Alliance is continuing to recognize athletes, young and old, who are making an impact through sport.
Colleen Milliman is 94-year-old but she doesn’t let her age slow her down. Like any grandmother, she loves keeping up with her grandkids and making them laugh. So when her grandson challenged her to get on a track in 2017, she brought a stopwatch.
“I did it just to amuse him,” said Milliman between chuckles. “Turns out, I am fast.”
She signed up for the Hayward Classic and ended up setting a world record.
“I had no idea I would set a record. It was something new to do and try,” she said. “It was the very first time I ran a mile at Hayward Field and it turned out to be a record.”
Soon after she joined Tracktown Fitness at Hayward Field. She met many in the running community. One of them was former UO Runner Megan Patrignelli who took Milliman under her wing.
“Colleen enjoys working out and being around people and trying something new in this later stage of life,” said Patrignelli. “We run together, we walk together. She is fantastic.”
Milliman enjoys staying active and meeting other athletes. She says growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional, but laughing at yourself is therapeutic.
“Most of the time people think they are too old at 60 or 70 and they stop doing things,” Milliman said. “Well, I guess I’m selfish and I don’t like to feel old. I stay active and I laugh at myself a lot.”
Throughout her life, Milliman walked around her neighborhood regularly. It wasn’t until after setting her first record that she motivated herself to stay active by eating healthy, joining a gym, and entering meets.
“Hopefully, I will get to live out my dream,” Milliman said. “For years, I have said I will live to be 125 but I don’t think that is realistic but it is at least to have something to strive for.”
She hopes others will also strive for what’s important to them.
“I want everybody to try to be positive and not be negative. If you do that it’s always better. Things don’t always turn out the way you want them to but it would be worse if you didn’t try to make it better,” she said.
Milliman doesn’t see herself as an inspiration but hopes others are encouraged by her story and gain the confidence they deserve.
Photos by Paul W. Harvey IV via Runner Space