Ruth Ingle's age, 82, is just a number. It becomes more significant in the company of other numbers like 245, the one she wore in the recent Tallulah Half Marathon and 5K, or 47, the number of …
Ruth Ingle's age, 82, is just a number. It becomes more significant in the company of other numbers like 245, the one she wore in the recent Tallulah Half Marathon and 5K, or 47, the number of minutes it took her to finish the race.
The latter was a personal best for Ingle, a Guin resident who participated in her first 5K last July.
Ingle's daughter, Judy, and granddaughter, April, convinced her to enter the Firecracker 5K in Guin so that three generations could compete together.
Ingle had never heard of a 5K or realized that one was held annually so close to her home. Once she got the details, it sounded easy enough to her.
"I felt like I could walk the three miles," Ingle said.
That first 5K went so well that she entered another and then another.
She completed four 5Ks in 2017. The Tallulah Half Marathon and 5K was her fourth this year, and she hopes to finish four more before the year is over.
Ingle was invited to participate in the Jasper race by a group of local runners who met her at the 5K Fun Run for Health in Winfield sponsored by Girl Scout Troop 216 on May 26.
"She looked great. She had done it in a pair of blue jeans, a pair of Keds and a polo shirt, and she wasn't even sweating," said April Butler, one of the runners.
The group invited her to come to Jasper for the 5K on June 9.
They paid her registration fee so that she could participate as their guest.
"We invited her because she was such an inspiration to us. It also shows that no matter your age, physical activity level or limitations, you can do this," said Butler, who stayed with Ingle for the duration of the race.
Ingle doesn't train for 5Ks, though she does get plenty of exercise doing yard work and playing golf. (She took up golf at 70 and often plays a full round and sometimes two in a row at Oak Hill Country Club in Sulligent, where she is a member.)
Ingle's goal at each 5K is to shave a little off of her previous time.
"I mostly walk the 5Ks, but I do run a little so that I can get my time. I'm working to beat my time in each race," Ingle said.
Butler saw Ingle's competitive spirit come out as they made their way through the streets of Jasper.
Ingle told her that she wanted to finish the race in under 50 minutes.
Butler kept her informed of their time, and Ingle would pick up the pace, occasionally trotting, when she felt that she was lagging behind.
"The average split was a little over 15-minute mile, which is great, but she had one mile that she got in under a 12-minute mile. She was really pushing herself," Butler said.
Though the official finish time of 47:31 was her personal best, Ingle told Butler that she probably could have gone even faster because "I've got more in the tank."
Ingle was showered with attention at the finish. Jasper Mayor David O'Mary congratulated her and presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
Ingle, who was slightly taken aback but deeply appreciative of the fuss made over her, has words of encouragement for anyone who hears about her and thinks "I could never do that."
"Oh yes, you can. Just get out there and get active. I don't train or anything. I just stay busy. I know some people may not have the health to do it, but I think a lot of people just think they can't, but they can if they try," Ingle said.
Ingle isn't kidding about staying busy.
After saying good-bye to her new friends last weekend, she got in the car with her sister and headed to Sulligent, where she planned to play a round of golf — or maybe two.