MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — For a lot of people, running is a chore. For Mount Desert Island resident Rudy Kelley, running is everything.
“I started running later in life, in my late 20s and 30s,” Kelley explained. “I had some health problems and I decided to get in shape, so I started to run. Now running is a huge part of my life. I run all the time.”
Kelley is not content to just run around his favorite trail at Eagle Lake, however. At 75, Kelley is continually looking to test himself against other runners by entering a number of local races. Most recently he ran the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth on Aug. 6.
“I got involved in Beach to Beacon because it’s such a high-level race, such a big race, and I wanted to see how I fared against the men my age,” Kelley said.
Right from the get-go, Kelley wanted to win his age group. The first time he ran the 6.2 miles from Crescent Beach State Park to the historic Portland Head Light he placed fifth. The next time he ran, he came in second.
This year, after taking care of some hamstring issues and putting in some serious hours training, Kelley finally reached his goal. He came in first in the 75-plus bracket with a time of 51:07, over a minute and a half better than the second-place finisher in that group.
“It’s absolutely one of the highlights of my life, winning that race,” Kelley said. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be back for the next go round.
“I told myself that that would do it, but then I told myself I could do better,” Kelley said. “So, I’m just going to keep right on. It’s just so addictive.”
And why would he stop when there are still the National Senior Games to train for.
“All of these races are just preparation for me for the Senior Games,” Kelley said. “That’s what it’s all about for me.”
After taking home the gold in the 10K in 2015, Kelley has battled to get back to the top spot. He had to skip this year’s Games due to the aforementioned hamstring issues, but his win at Beach to Beacon has provided some extra motivation ahead of the 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh.
So, if you see Rudy Kelley out pounding the pavement anytime between now and then, make sure you tell him to keep right on running.