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Octogenarian makes come-back in Houston marathon run

Challenged, Hoogenboezem wins age category

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HOUSTON, Texas - A former Texan Dutch-American who before his retirement to Lynden, Washington ran more than 50 marathons in the Southern U.S.A. and who started the Galveston Island, Texas annual run, is literally back on (the) track after an absence of seventeen years. Gerrit Hoogenboezem ran in the Compaq Houston Marathon 2001 recently, and won his age category completing the 26-mile, 385-yard run with three minutes to spare in the cutoff qualifying time of 5:30.

Hoogenboezem, a retired actuary who hails from Rotterdam, re-entered the sport to prove something to himself although the first day he was out of breath after 50 yards. After a few months he could run five miles. Eleven months after his first try he completed the Houston marathon which he once ran in 3:03. It was Hoogenboezem’s daughter Joy who on his 80th birthday last summer, challenged him to enter the 2001 Houston run. The challenge prompted him to increase his mileage in an effort to prepare for the event.

Cool weather during the recent run helped, according to Hoogenboezem, who went the whole distance without taking in fluids at checkpoints. Ten miles into the race, he felt tired but only reduced the pace. When Hoogenboezem passed the 26-mile mark and knew he could make the cutoff time, he further lowered his speed. The octogenarian’s effort - once his ties with Texas were discovered - received wide coverage in Houston and Galveston. Lynden - his hometown since 1985 - joined in the publicity as well.

In addition to running races, Hoogenboezem also helped organize the sport in various ways. He founded a club in the Galveston area at a time when long distance running was not yet popular. With his employer, the American National Insurance Company, as the main sponsor, Hoogenboezem originated the annual Galveston Island run and was its race director for eight years. Many years, after pulling the trigger of the starter gun, he gave it to an assistant, and then took off running as a participant.

The recent Houston run also got him reacquainted with many of his former running friends in the South. Hoogenboezem who arrived with his Zwolle-born wife Lynn (Capelle) in the U.S.A. 52 years ago, doubts he will start a running club in Lynden.