81-year-old attempts to run 1st marathon in Chicago

Max Downham will be running his first marathon at 81 years old this weekend in Chicago.PlayABC NEWS
WATCH 81-year-old to run 1st Chicago marathon

Running a marathon is on many people's bucket list. But they don't usually wait until they're in their 80s to cross it off.

Not so for 81-year-old Max Downham, who will be giving the 26.2 miles his first shot this weekend in the Chicago Marathon.

"It's something that I'd like to be able to do and say I've done it and I think also quite honestly I take care of myself and I believe in good health and I think this is a wonderful way to keep yourself in good shape and health," he told ABC station WLS in Chicago.

Downham has been a jogger his whole life, but he's never competed in races. So since May, Downham and his trainer have been building up to the big race on Oct. 8. He's run in the eight-kilometer Shamrock Shuffle and Chicago's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.

His finishing time for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon was 3:14:21. That was 9,301st overall -- but first in his age group (ages 80 to 99).

Granted, he was the only one in his division. (He was one of seven runners over the age of 75.)

Downham is tackling the course in order to raise awareness for Chicago Lights, a community outreach program that helps children and adults facing poverty in the city.

And don't worry if Downham finishes with a slow time on Sunday. After all, he plans to have an opportunity to beat it next year.

"My next goal is to run another marathon either in Chicago or somewhere else in the world," Downham told WLS. "Retirement is not really in my psyche."

Of course that means Downham still works as well. He's the Executive Director of the International College of Surgeons, where he's been for 21 years.

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