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'If they can run, I can run': 87-year-old set to complete 10th Manitoba Marathon race

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Age may be just a number to George Steciuk, but it’s just one of many that add up to one inspirational athlete.

Steciuk is 87.

On Sunday, he will run his 10th Manitoba Marathon race –a 10-kilometre.

He will run alongside two other generations of his family – his daughter and granddaughter.

Even more impressive, he took up running at 75, just five years after triple-bypass surgery.

“I wasn’t a born runner, so it took a while. It’s a slow process.”

George Steciuk is pictured during a June 14, 2024 interview at the Reh-Fit Centre. (Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)

The numbers don’t end there.

Six months – that’s how long Steciuk’s doctor told him to spend working out at the Reh-Fit Centre to bounce back after surgery.

He and his wife Gertrude went together and soon, Steciuk noticed he had much more energy.

They decided to keep at it.

“The longer I kept going, I saw these guys running, and I said to myself, ‘Well, if they can run, I can run.’”

After working and training hard, he began running the Manitoba Marathon, first taking on the 10K, and then eight half-marathons after that.

George Steciuk crosses the finish line after running a half-marathon at the Manitoba Marathon in 2018. (File Image)

Steciuk’s daughter Angie Spearing is usually at the finish line, cheering her dad on as he crosses. This year, she and her daughter will run alongside him.

“You never know how much time we have. I am not a runner, so we agreed 10K was going to be a good thing to start with, and I’m immensely thrilled and pleased and looking so forward to being able to do this with my daughter and my father,” she said.

“It’s very meaningful. It’s very inspiring.”

George Steciuk and Angie Spearing pose on the track at the Reh-Fit Centre on June 14, 2024. (Jamie Doswett/CTV News Winnipeg)

Steciuk loves to hear that. Each time he laces up, he aims to empower others to take up walking, running or any physical activity that keeps them moving at any age.

And while age may be just a number, it was a thorn in Steciuk’s side for the past few years. After all, he was pounding the pavement at the Manitoba Marathon in the 75-plus category well into his 80s.

He wanted organizers to add an older age category.

“I said, ‘It's just not fair. It’s too much of a spread,’ and they kept saying, ‘no, no, no.”

After completing another half marathon last year at 86, his eighth, he got a surprise in the mail – a gold medal in the newly added 85 plus category.

Here’s where numbers come into play, once again.

“I was the only one running, so I had no choice but to win.”

George Steciuk is pictured in 2022 after completing his seventh half-marathon. (George Steciuk/Facebook)

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