PLATTSBURGH — Frank Woodward carries a look of rugged determination.
At 70, the Peru native has been actively involved in long-distance running for much of his adult life, and he has not let age interfere with what has become a daily routine.
“It’s not hard,” he said of the distance runner’s need to stay at it, to run on a daily basis despite the weather or how a person might feel on any particular day.
“I have no special rules, no special diet,” he added. “The only thing I do is run every day, four to six miles each day. The best prescription for a healthy old age is regular exercise.”
ATHLETE FOR LIFE
As a kid growing up in Peru in the 1950s, Woodward first got involved in athletics when he caught the eye of Peru High School coach Tony Papero.
“If you had any athletic ability back then, Tony made sure you played sports,” Woodward recalled with a smile. “Whether you wanted to or not, you played all high-school sports.”
He started his running career on the track team, where he competed in the quarter mile. Former Peru standouts Elmer Duprey and Larry Morrow were one and two in the 100 and 220 sprints, so Woodward landed in the longer distance.
He still vividly remembers that initial experience, when he ran the quarter mile in 56.4 seconds at the old Plattsburgh High School track on the field behind where Stafford Middle School now stands.
Prior to the race, he had bought a soda and hot dog at a nearby gas station; he promptly threw up after completing his race.
By his senior year in 1960, he had taken over as a sprinter and won the Section VII championships in both the 100 and 220.
While attending college at SUNY Plattsburgh, Woodward decided to join the fall-season cross-country team as a way to stay in shape for the springtime track season. It was his official start in a career that has seen him complete countless miles on the distance course, including around 80 marathons.