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'Just Keep Going And Think Young': 89-Year-Old Woman To Run Great Race For The 24th Time

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's hard to imagine that at 89-year-old Rita Klanchar, of North Huntingdon, is still running.

It's harder still to that think that come Sunday, she'll be running in her 24th Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race.

"It's the funnest thing to be a part of that crowd. It just makes you feel good and to go through Pittsburgh and see all the sights and the friendly people that you're with," Klanchar said.

She came to running in her late 40s, encouraged by her son Marty who has run all 40 Great Races. Once she started competing in races, she caught the bug.

rita klanchar trophies
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

She soon started collecting trophies, plaques and hardware for winning in her age group.

KDKA-TV's Andy Sheehan: "You've won 17 age group titles in the Great Race."
Klanchar: "I guess so."
Sheehan: "Too many to count?"
Klanchar: "I never really counted them, I just put them up."

She even sewed a quilt made up of all of her shirts from the Great Race and other completions over the years.

Sheehan: "Every night you go to bed, you relive the glory."
Klanchar: "No, I just cover myself up with it."

But more addictive than the awards and memorabilia is the running itself.

Klanchar: "Oh my gosh, if you don't get out, it drives you crazy sometimes because you feel the need to just get out and just do it. It's that dopamine or whatever it is, right?"
Sheehan: "The endorphins."
Klanchar: "Is that what it is?"
Sheehan: "They call it the runner's high."
Klanchar: "Well, that's probably what it is."

Age, she said, is only in your head, and that her daily jaunts with her daughter, Annette, through the neighborhood and down to the high school track are what keeps her sharp, vibrant and healthy.

"Just keep going and think young," Klanchar said.

rita klanchar
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Klanchar said she thinks the 2018 Great Race will be her last, although her son says she should run it again when she's 90.

"So you know, god willing, if I'm around, I'll be in it," she said.

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