81-Year-Old McAlester Sprinter Competes Worldwide, Inspires Others
McALESTER, Oklahoma - An 81-year-old woman won over thousands of people with a social media video of her doing box jumps during her weekly workouts in McAlester.
Carolyn Langenwalter might be a "senior," but she made jumping nearly 2-feet look easy and that’s just the beginning of her athletic ability.
One foot after another, Langenwalter sprints to stay in shape and to keep at top of her game.
“If you work hard, it makes you better,” she said.
She and her husband drive 30 miles several times a week from the town of Calvin to the McAlester Regional Wellness Center so Langenwalter can work out with her trainer, Keegan Linehan.
“I met with Keegan, and it's kind of like having my new grandchild,” she said.
There's a nearly 60 year age difference between the two of them, but a common ground of health and friendship.
“He's good for me and, I hope, I'm a little bit good for him,” said Langenwalter.
She is up for anything, wall sits, resistance training, and even box jumps. But running is really where her heart is, even though she's relatively new to the sport.
Langenwalter spent 30 years as a teacher, then years after retiring, she decided to hit the pavement and discovered a new passion.
“I was living in a retirement center and I just needed more things to do,” she said.
At 70 she ran her first 5K and won her age bracket.
“It really lit me up. I thought, 'Wow! Well, I might do this all the time.’ So it just kind of became a hobby,” Langenwalter said.
Now she's almost 82, and she's one of the fastest "senior" sprinters in the world, going up against other women her age, who all take the sport seriously.
“It's not friendly,” she said laughing. “I mean, they are friendly, yes. They're older women and after the race they're very friendly, but the competition is tough.”
Langenwalter has traveled to Poland, France, Australia, Spain and South Korea, just to name a few, competing with the United States World Masters of Track and Field in both indoor and outdoor events. Her 4x400 relay team holds a world record.
“You really feel wonderful, I must say. It's a thrill. It makes you want to keep doing it,” said Langenwalter.
And that's just her plan… to keep going, one foot after the other, for as long as she can.
“Good fitness changes your mind and it changes your body and it gives you something to work on all the time,” she said.
She's also competed in the senior Olympics, but prefers the USATF.
Langenwalter said she ran track in elementary and middle school, but girls sports weren't allowed after that. She thinks she still holds a middle school record in Harper County, Kansas.