Senior runner sets world recordAge is just a number to Harold Bach of Dickinson. Running at the age of 91, Bach set the world record in the 50-meter race of the Huntsman World Senior Games, Oct. 4-5 in St. George, Utah.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Age is just a number to Harold Bach of Dickinson.
Running at the age of 91, Bach set the world record in the 50-meter race of the Huntsman World Senior Games, Oct. 4-5 in St. George, Utah.
“We were in an enormous stadium with loud speakers you could hear a mile,” said Bach. “They said I won a gold medal, but right after that, they said, ‘Harold Bach from Dickinson, North Dakota, just broke a world record.’ When they said, Dickinson, I was so proud — I didn’t expect it.”
He set the world record with 10.95 seconds.
“It was fun — I never expected to do it, he said. “I wanted to win a medal, but I set a record.”
Prior to entering the Utah competition, he competed in the games sponsored by National Senior Games Association at Houston in June, There, he won gold medals in the 100- and 400-meter runs.
With the records in hand, Bach said he’s considered the fastest man alive — age 90 and above.
“The record (at Utah) was set in 2004 — I beat it by half a second,” said Bach.
He also competed in the 100 and 400 in Utah. He took the silver in the 100 and the gold in the 400.
The Huntsman World Senior Games featured 10,000 athletes from 50 states and 22 countries. It included 15 sports, such as archery, basketball, bowling, horseshoes and golf.
The runners were divided into age divisions, starting at age 50.
“I run in the 90- to 94-year-old division,” he said. “We had someone 96, but he had nobody to run against, so they put him in with us.”
He said the 400 is difficult for someone of his age.
“I won that by quite a bit, but I didn’t look back,” he said. “It’s once around the track. You don’t run slow. The one who has the best heart and lungs is going to win.”
He credits the wins to training. The last two weeks before the race, he worked out on local high school and college tracks. He also goes to West River Community Center six mornings a week.
The morning workouts are also an opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee with his friends at the center.
Peggy Maeyaert is a member of the exercise-coffee group.
“We sit around and have coffee and tell stories,” she said. “Harold tells us about his past — we all get involved in his conversations. We all have taken him under our wing — and give him the support he needs to compete.”
Bach didn’t start running until 1992.
“I didn’t take sports when I was in school — I never started running in the Olympics until I was 72,” he said. “I participated in the other sports, but when I saw those guys running, I decided to register for the 5K. I won gold the first year and have been hooked on it.”
Bach accumulated 114 medals from entering competitions in California and Arizona, when they spent winters there, as well as North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana.
A wiry man standing at 5-foot-3, Bach said he can’t gain weight no matter what he eats.
His wife, Evelyn concurs, saying he likes bacon, eggs and hash browns for breakfast.
“I’ve been lucky in health, but half has to do with genes and the rest is how you take care of your health,” he said.
A native of Regent, Bach served in the Civilian Conservation Corps after high school graduation. He was drafted into World War II, serving in North Africa and Italy. After the war, he moved to Seattle to look for work. He married a Regent gal, Evelyn Jungers, on Nov. 29, 1947, in Seattle. He worked for Boeing Co., but became homesick for North Dakota. Returning home, he started working for the U.S. Postal Service in 1959, retiring as a rural mail carrier in 1987. They are the parents of four children, Jim, Bill, Karen and Carla.
Reflecting on his life, Bach said the best advice is to be active and like people.
“Don’t sit in the house and watch TV,” he said. “If you don’t socialize, it will hurt you mentally — be active in any sport. Walking is the best exercise there is.”
Darrell Dorgan, Bach’s nephew, said the family is thrilled about the world record.
“He’s worked very hard at this. I think he’s a natural athlete,” he said.
Despite his age, Dorgan added, “He’s not old — if you look at him and watch him, his movements are fluid. I don’t think Harold has an ounce of fat on his body. He reads The Dickinson Press every day and watches the news. He runs mornings and in the afternoon does wind sprints. He doesn’t sit around to get old.”
Bach grew up during the Depression and never forgot who he was or where he came from, added Dorgan.
“He’s genuinely a good guy — he worked hard his whole life and raised a great family,” said Dorgan. “He’s one of those guys you look up to.”