Evie Deitrich qualified for the National Senior Games four times
Avid runner Evie Deitrich of Holton is living proof that just because you’re getting a little older doesn’t mean you have to slow down.
Deitrich took sixth place in the 800-meter track and field event at the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, N.M. in June and finished in the top half of competitors in her age division in the 10K road race.
Deitrich has qualified for the National Senior Games four times, but this was her first time to participate in the games, an extension of the Olympic Games.
“It was an atmosphere of fitness, fun and fellowship that made it so unique,” Deitrich said. “I saw an 80-year-old woman throw the discus and 90-year-old athletes running track. It was very inspiring.”
Presented by Humana, the 2019 National Senior Games were held June 14-25 in Albuquerque. The goal of the games, which are held every odd year, is to promote health and wellness for adults ages 50 and over through education, fitness and sports.
On Wednesday, June 19, Deitrich competed in the 800-meter race along with 24 other women ages 60 to 64.
“Albuquerque’s altitude is 5,312 feet and that affected me,” she said. “Even though it’s a competition, everyone there really wants to just do their personal best. I didn’t think I would have any chance of placing because some of the women were really buff.”
Deitrich received sixth place with a time of 3:23. Her personal best is 3:05, but in high school, she ran the 800 meter in 2:30.
“I was pretty close to getting fifth place,” she said. “I can say I’m a national champion.”
The top three competitors in each event received medals and fourth through eighth place winners received ribbons, Deitrich said.
On Sunday, June 22, she placed 17th out of 41 athletes in her division in the 10K road race with a time of 57:07.
“I was happy with that time despite the altitude,” she said. “There was a camaraderie among all the athletes.”
During the 10K race, Deitrich wore purple in honor of her late granddaughter, Lila, who died six years ago due to epilepsy.
“My motto is, Lila runs in me,” she said. “She is my inspiration, and I run for her.”
Deitrich was also inspired by Julie “Hurricane” Hawkins, a 103-year-old woman who won gold in the 50- and 100-meter races at the games that week.
Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, also competed at the games.
“It was neat to see all these amazing women there competing,” she said.
Athletes qualify for the National Senior Games at the state level. Deitrich won the 800-meter and 10K in September 2018 at the Kansas Senior Games in Topeka. The top three winners in each competition qualify for nationals, she said.
To prepare for nationals, Deitrich said that, in addition to running, she did Crossfit, a high-intensity form of training, for two months to build up her strength.
A record number of 13,712 athletes, plus an estimated 15,000 family members and friends, attended the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, and Deitrich estimated that 300 athletes from Kansas participated.
Deitrich’s daughter, Jennie Putnam, and granddaughter, Mila, of Phoenix, Ariz., traveled to Albuquerque to cheer her on.
Deitrich said she started running the 800-meter at age 14 at Chase County High School.
“I’ve been running off and on since then,” she said. “I regularly do road races on weekends. I run at least five days a week. I keep going, and I don’t stop.”
Deitrich, who turns 60 this fall, encourages people who might find running intimating to just start walking.
“Just keep moving,” she said. “Just get out there and do it.”
Deitrich and her husband, John, who teaches and coaches for the Holton School District, have lived in Holton since 2008.
“John coaches me and is very supportive,” she said. “If I think I can’t do it, he tells me I can.”
The couple have two grown children, Nolan and Danyel Deitrich and Jennie and Brandon Putnam, and three other granddaughters.
The 2021 National Seniors Games will be held at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Deitrich, who works for the Kansas Supreme Court in Topeka, said she is eager to go back.
“If I just have to deal with humidity and no altitude, I think I can do it,” she said. “I want to do better and be stronger as I get older. I hope to be able to run until I’m 80 or 90, God willing.”