Go, Orville, Go! At 99, runner Rogers plots assault on field WRs, too
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Dallasâ€™ Orville Rogers is a man on the go.
Rogers, 99, has been cleared by his cardiologist to compete in the Feb. 17-19 USATF Masters Indoors Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque. He holds 15 world records.
He doesnâ€™t anticipate setting any this year, but he wants to stay sharp for next year. There are only a couple of existing records in the 100- to 104-year-old division.
â€śIf Iâ€™m still alive and kicking, I plan to enter about five running events and five field events at both the indoor championships and the outdoor championships so I can have 10, 15, 20 world records,â€ť he said at a book signing Saturday. â€śWho knows? Thatâ€™s blue sky thinking, but why not have good goals and endeavor to reach your challenges?â€ť
Nearly 300 people gathered at the Frontiers of Flight Museum near Dallas Love Field to hear Rogers talk about his newly published autobiography, The Running Man: Flying for the Glory of God, written with Barbara Norris. Dr. Kenneth Cooper of Dallas, who wrote the bookâ€™s foreword, introduced Rogers.
The book details Rogersâ€™ days as an instructor bomber pilot during World War II, his 31 years with Braniff Airways, and his missionary work, ferrying airplanes for Jungle Aviation and Radio Service, a service arm of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
The book also recalls memorable moments of his 49-year running career, which began the day after he read Cooperâ€™s book, Aerobics, in 1968. Rogers has run in excess of 42,000 miles. Heâ€™s considered the only man in the world to have a run a 10-minute mile past the age of 90 and to have run a 15-minute mile past age 95.
He set his first two world records in 2008, 16 years after bypass surgery to open six blocked arteries. The indoor track championships were held two weeks after Beth, his wife of 64 years, died. His family convinced him that she would want him to race.
In 2011, Rogers suffered a major stroke. He requested the most rigorous rehab possible and pushed himself to return to his prestroke condition. He continues to work out three days a week and maintains his running regimen, approximately 10 miles a week.
He said he plans to work with Elizabeth Murphy, an assistant throwing coach at SMU, to prepare for field events for the 2018 world meets.
Rogers, a longtime philanthropist, has been named the Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award winner for 2017. Rogers helped Dallas Baptist raise the funds needed for its new womenâ€™s dorm. The November dinner raises funds for scholarships for Dallas Baptist students. In addition to his missionary work, Rogers has given millions of dollars to the community.
â€śIâ€™m a happy person,â€ť he said. â€śI enjoy life â€¦ Iâ€™m very gratified to live this long and still be useful and to be able to help others and do the Lordâ€™s work.â€ť