Running through their golden years: Berryville couple not slowed by age

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Don and Sharon Snavely of Berryville, 77 and 67 respectively, finished first in their age divisions in a recent race in Pea Ridge -- although their divisions were sparsely populated, they joked. The two say they prefer local, smaller runs. Annette Beard / The Times of Northeast Benton County

PEA RIDGE -- "Keep moving," his father told him years ago, and he has taken the advice literally.

Don Snavely, 77, runs. He's slower now, in fact, he was the second to last to cross the finish line Sept. 15 in the D.A.S.H. To Remember race in Pea Ridge, even laughing that the woman who came in behind him could have easily passed him but he thought she may be watching to see if he collapsed.

(Even though he was second to last, he was first place in his age division, as was his wife, Sharon, 67.)

Don and Sharon were two of the oldest runners Saturday. The couple drove to Pea Ridge from Berryville to join the race.

"We've been coming for several years," he said. "It's a good cause. We like the local, smaller races."

Don said he ran in college, then stopped running for about 20 years, but began again when in his late 40s.

"I've slowed down a lot," he said, explaining that he had carotid artery surgery earlier this year and has a torn meniscus in one knee.

"We love it," Sharon said of running. "We like the running community. It's a good atmosphere."

The couple, married for 42 years, have two grown children, both of whom run, "but not with us, we're too slow," he chuckled.

"I share the same advice my father gave me -- 'Keep moving, don't worry about doctors and you won't end up on the couch with a beer in your hands.' He was from the Depression-era and raised five boys," Don said of his father. "He was lean and wiry. He didn't run, but he kept moving."

Sharon said she didn't start running until she was in her late 30s, encouraged to run by her husband who coached her.

"She's very competitive," Don said of Sharon. "She's still usually wins her division."

The couple trains regularly, but because of the knee injury, he says he is working out with weights more than running right now.

"Runners are nice people," she said. "We like to be around the young people."

"The best thing about running," Don said, "is that you can always run. If you play football or basketball, your playing days will be over soon after high school. If you're a runner, you can run all your life. There's not a stigma to being a bad runner. Runners are supportive. I can come in dead last and still get cheered."

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Editor's note: This article was reprinted with permission from The Times of Northeast Benton County, NWA Media, NAN LLC.

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