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Detroit Lakes retiree, 80, participates in his third Fargo Marathon

Detroit Lakes resident Richard Renner, who turned 80 in January, took part in his third Fargo Marathon this past Saturday. Renner, a native of Pelican Rapids, first became interested in the sport about five years ago, after watching his daughters compete in area events. He finished the half-marathon (13.1 miles) in 3 hours, 24 minutes. (Vicki Gerdes/DL Newspapers)1 / 2
Richard Renner after competing in his first Fargo Marathon in 2007, with daughters Beth (far left) and LaVerne, and granddaughters Erica and Hope.2 / 2

At last Saturday's Fargo Marathon, more than 24,000 people crossed the finish line -- and Detroit Lakes' Richard Renner was among them.

Renner, who turned 80 in January, was competing in his third half marathon in Fargo -- but the first one since 2008.

After taking a few years off due to illness, poor weather conditions and other factors, Renner said, "I decided, it's now or never."

Renner completed the 13.1-mile course in 3 hours, 24 minutes on Saturday.

"That's a long haul," he joked.

And while he managed to complete the same course in just under three hours (2:54) back in 2008, Renner said, "I'm carrying a little more weight now -- and my age might have something to do with it."

Still, he said, running is something he enjoys doing.

"It makes you feel so good," he said. "For me it's medicine you can't buy.

"Exercise is great," added Renner, who says he makes the trip to the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center three times a week to work out in its fitness center.

"I feel good pretty much all the time," he said.

And even though he was moving a little more slowly on Sunday -- the day after the race -- by Monday, he said, he was feeling fine again.

"When you come across that finish line, you think you're 10 feet tall," Renner said. There's no other feeling quite like it, he added.

Renner said the thing he enjoys most about running competitively is the people he meets.

"You see things you don't expect," he said. "I saw a guy in a wheelchair just going at it -- it's really inspiring to watch something like that."

He also enjoys hearing the funny stories of other runners about their past mishaps. Sometimes the conversations he hears on the course are also quite funny.

"I heard one man on his cell phone, who was really struggling, and he said, 'Whose idea was this anyway?'" Renner said with a laugh.

Renner, who is a retired mink rancher, said he first got interested in running by watching his daughters compete in various events.

"My daughters were doing a lot of running, and they have this 5K (run) at the Beardsley Marathon every year," Renner said. "My daughter LaVerne (Moltzan) said, 'You can do that.'

"So I did it -- and I kind of got hooked," he added. "They were running the half-marathon in Fargo, and I said I'd like to try it -- but I don't know if I can make it (to the finish line)."

So LaVerne said she'd train him, and over the course of the next few months, they gradually worked to build his endurance until one day, he was able to run 14 miles. It was two weeks before the 2007 Fargo Marathon was set to take place.

"After I got the 14 miles in, I knew I'd make it (to the end)," he said. "A lot of it is psychological. If I did 14 miles at home, I knew I could do 13."

Since he competed in his first Fargo Marathon, Renner's other daughters have started running with him as well. He has eight children and 13 grandchildren, many of whom still live in the lakes area. His wife passed away several years ago.

Renner's personal motto to live by, which he keeps on a laminated card in his wallet: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave, with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, latté in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, 'WOO HOO, what a ride!'"

So long as he is physically able to keep on running, Renner said, he doesn't intend on stopping -- after all, he added, "Life in general, it's a marathon, isn't it?"

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454