From the get-go, the first track meet of Edward Somerville’s second career seemed cursed.
First, there was the cancelled flight, which led to him taking multiple connecting flights to get to the Florida Senior Games. Then, there was the weather. The sunshine state was only 41 degrees with pouring rain and 31 mph winds when he and his wife landed.
But then, Somerville’s race began. At the meet – his first time competitively sprinting in 45 years – Somerville won the 400 meter dash and placed second in the 200 meter dash.
“I thought, maybe I can do this,” Somerville laughed.
Seems like he wasn’t cursed after all.
That was in 2017, and since then he’s competed, and won, multiple races, both in the Senior Games and the USATF Masters.
He’s also learned a lot along the way that could prove helpful for those looking to start running. One, strengthen your body, especially your core. Two, get enough sleep and water. Three, pace yourself. And if you’re an older athlete, be sure to give yourself recovery time in between races and workouts.
“You have to be patient with yourself...You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll become stronger and feel better,” he said.
Somerville knows all about the importance of patience, especially given his journey to becoming one of the country’s top runners in the men’s 65-69 age bracket, as he's turning 68.
Somerville’s first track career started in middle school, before competing in high school and at Western Michigan University.
After college, Somerville stopped racing competitively, and began distance running to stay in shape from the ‘70s until the ‘90s, when he first heard about the USATF Masters.
“I was in my forties and I very naively thought after 20 years away from sprinting that I could run over to a track and get in shape,” he said.
Somerville tried that, and as to be expected, it didn’t go well. This would start a cycle of him running, hurting himself, stopping, then trying again, before he ultimately decided to just stick with distance running. He had a family at that point and was growing a business – Somerville is a financial advisor – and he didn’t have time to get back to where he once was.
But then one day at the gym he noticed a man doing what looked like a track workout. Turns out said gentleman was a USATF Masters athlete. The two would train together on and off for a few years.
“I was so tight and so stiff and everything hurt. It was so painful to try to get my body to go fast again,” he said. “But I just kind of stuck with it.”
Eventually – after more injuries and making the decision to train alone – he started noticing improvements. His times were getting better, but he knew he had to enter a meet to really see where he stood. So he entered the only one left for the outdoor season, the Florida Senior Games, and we know how that ended.
The rest of that outdoor season was followed by the USATF Southeastern Regional Meet and the USATF Masters National Championships. He medaled at both.
Even though he’s won a lot since this started – including being a part of the 4X400 meter relay team in the men’s 65-69 age bracket that set the new American record during this year’s USATF National Masters Indoor Championships – he still has a few things to check off his accomplishments list.
“My goal is to win the world championship. Might as well set high goals, right?” Somerville said.
Photo: Laurie Tennent