Jerry Brownrigg thinks running is part of the reason he has lived so long.
“It certainly has helped my health, I think,” said Brownrigg, a retired industrial education instructor from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva.
The 82-year-old Alva man will run the 5K in Sunday's Redbud Classic in Nichols Hills for the 23rd consecutive time.
“I like running in it. It is a very organized race,” Brownrigg said. “It's fun to compete. My son is always joking with me that I'm the only one in my age group. Actually, there are quite a few people in my age group running.”
Each year, 6,500 athletes participate in the Redbud running and cycling events, not including the nearly 800 children who run in the free one-mile children's run.
Brownrigg has finished first in his age group for 21 straight years. The only time he didn't win was the first Redbud Classic he entered in 1990.
“I have been running all my life,” said Brownrigg, who competed in track for what was then known as Central State University (now UCO) in the late 40s and early 50s. “I started in grade school.”
Even at age 82, Brownrigg still runs two miles every day with his two German shorthairs, Jake and Gizz, by his side.
There are fewer quail for Jake and Gizz to hunt these days, so the bird dogs have become Brownrigg's jogging partners.
“They need the exercise and so do I,” he said.
On his birthday, Brownrigg celebrates by going the extra mile and running three miles.
“Running a nine-minute mile is not bad for me,” he said. “It used to be six but it seems like it gets longer every year.”
2013 Redbud Classic
What: Running and cycling races including a 5K and 10K runs, 5K wheelchair event, 2-mile walk, 1-mile children's run, baby stroller derby and 10-, 33- and 50-mile bike tours.
When: Biking events and children's run on Saturday. Running and walking events on Sunday.
Where: Nichols Hills
To participate: Registration fees are $35 for a single event and $65 for two events on race days. On Saturday, participants can sign up at the Redbud Class registration office at 1203 Sherwood Lane, just west of Nichols Hills Plaza, which is the former First Church of Christian Scientist. On Sunday, the registration office moves to the tent at the Waterford Complex.
Charity: Proceeds from the 2013 Redbud Classic will benefit the Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, who represent children who have been removed from their home because of abuse or neglect.
For more information: www.redbud.org