Win Dermody, 80, set to power walk Steamboat Marathon
Steamboat Springs — Twenty-five years of retirement may have slowed Win Dermody down, but it surely hasn’t stopped him. When Sunday’s 34th annual Steamboat Marathon gets underway, Dermody plans to be the first person on the course, leaving a full hour ahead of the rest of the field.
Dermody will need the extra time, as his 80-year-old body won’t allow him to run like it used to. Even so, the marathon’s oldest competitor can power walk with the best, and he means to do just that for the 26.2 miles separating Hahn’s Peak Village and downtown Steamboat Springs.
“I can’t get as much oxygen as I used to get,” Dermody said with a laugh. “My birthday was March 30, so I’m in my 81st year. This is my 80th celebration … I was trying to think of something to do this year. I’ve run the marathon twice before, so I thought, maybe I’ll just walk it. I’ve been training hard.”
Dermody and his wife, Elaine, both retired in 1990 and found their way to Steamboat Springs in 1994. Dermody, a former competitive tennis player in Florida, ran his first Steamboat Marathon in 1996. He has also run the half marathon three times and the 10-kilometer race many times more. He still spends at least an hour a day walking.
Despite the Honey Stinger-sponsored shirt and official race bib, Dermody won’t be competing for anything other than a chance to prove age is nothing more than a number. His ultimate goal is to inspire anyone he can to live a healthier, happier life.
“I just try to keep doing physical things. I figured as long as I keep on keeping on, I can fight off old age,” Dermody said. “I don’t say any of this bragging. It’s just I think of myself as one of the luckiest guys on Earth … I’ve had such a great life. And my thought is always how to share that. Pay it forward and pass it on.”
Dermody was born in Boston and raised in Massachusetts. He spent the bulk of his adult life in Florida, where he owned a company called H&D Packaging, which finished second in the world in the 37th international packing competition in the 70s. At one point, his company made boxes and foam for IBM, and he ultimately sold it to a large conglomerate in 1988.
Dermody has been involved with fitness his entire life. In Florida, he served on the governor’s council on fitness and sports for one term and once had the opportunity to sit next to Arnold Schwarzenegger during a luncheon. His path has also crossed those of many well-known runners. In 1979, Dermody returned to his hometown to run the Boston Marathon, and a year later, he ran the New York Marathon. All told, he has run in 16 marathons and two Ultras.
“I try to eat right and exercise and stay married to the same lovely lady. That helps,” Dermody said. “I’ve slowed up a lot at this altitude. Even 20 years ago, when we first came here and I was still running competitively, age-group wise — I was only 60 then — I skipped out of the car and up the post office steps and in the door, and it hit me, and I had to stop and suck my breath.”
Dermody ended up in Steamboat mostly due to his wife’s influence, as one of her friend’s moved to town soon after her own retirement, and both have kept busy since leaving the working world. Dermody is entering his 22nd year a volunteer wilderness ranger with the forest service, a hobby he got into in Creede soon after retiring; Elaine is a co-founder of Friends of Wilderness, a group of volunteers dedicated to forest preservation.
Now in his eighth decade on the planet, Dermody is just trying to keep going as long as he can. He and his wife are still active in the Steamboat community, and on Sunday morning, you may see Win Dermody in his yellow jersey churning out mile after mile down Routt County Road 129 — 80 years in and still going strong.
“Every day, I’m just thankful to see the sunshine,” Dermody said. “There is certainly no end of people in this town that are magically fit, (but) there is no magic formula … I would just hope people would get inspired.”
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