Mechanicsville resident Ute Goldkuhle has made running the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k a family affair, with the goal of being a fun, fit, healthy example to her grandchildren.
By: Kayla Young
Some may wonder, why does a 70-year-old grandmother of three decide to run a 6.2-mile race? For Ute Goldkuhle, it was her desire to become a fun, fit, and healthy grandma who could be an example for her six grandchildren.
“Regardless of age, it’s never too late to start,” said Goldkuhle.
Inspired by her son, Andrew, who had successfully completed numerous races, including three marathons, Goldkuhle figured she, too, could conquer a marathon before she hit 65. So, at the age of 63, having never run before, she decided it was now or never.
“Oh, was the beginning [of my life as a runner] painful!” she recalled. “In fact, I was so frightened, feeling the tight chest and shortness of breath, that I went to the doctor for a treadmill and EKG test.”
While Goldkuhle had always considered herself to be an active person because she frequently participated in activities like biking, hiking, swimming, and gardening, her doctor informed her that she was healthy but not in shape. The doctor’s advice: “Take it slow and give your body time to build up endurance.”
Taking the doctor’s advice, she built up the strength to venture out and complete a 3k, 5k, half marathon, and eventually her first marathon.
Since then, Goldkuhle has relocated to Richmond from San Diego to be closer to her family – the ones who inspire her. Even though she has no plans to tackle another marathon, Goldkuhle has remained committed to staying physically active.
Being unfamiliar with the Richmond area, she joined the Patrick Henry YMCA 10k Training Team to prepare for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, which gave her an opportunity to meet others with a similar passion for running.
“The family is a bit isolated in a rural area, so I needed something to connect,” she said. “I participated in the training to get to know the community a bit more.”
While living in San Diego, Goldkuhle was accustomed to training by herself or with one close friend. Having a team of people who shared the same end goal and were ready to encourage one another on the good and bad days was a very fulfilling experience for Goldkuhle.
“The greatest satisfaction comes from the camaraderie and the sense of belonging to a group,” she said. “In a group, you push yourself a bit harder.”
Goldkuhle also found satisfaction in the coaches who pushed her every step of the way. “There was the energy, the spirit, the personal touch, the fun and encouragement to get us going and keep us going, rain or shine,” she said. “When you’re a little older, you love the encouragement.”
Within the first week of training, Goldkuhle found two running partners, both much younger than her, that she stuck with through the entire 10-week program.
“We evolved together because we were about the same pace,” she said.
When it came time for the race, the adrenaline kicked in, and the positive atmosphere was the extra boost Goldkuhle needed to make it across the finish line. “I was showered with supportive energy from cheerleaders, rock bands, and spectators who were packed along the course,” Goldkuhle said of the 10k experience
Later that day, she pulled up her results online and, to her surprise, saw that she finished eighth out of 121 women in the age 70 and up division.
“The younger ones encouraged me,” she said in reference to her training buddies that stuck by her side for the majority of the 6.2 miles. “This shows that we can be the role models for our grandkids: healthy and fit, regardless of age, with a bit of effort.”
The Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k has now become a family affair for Goldkulhe, her son Andrew, and her grandson Max. For the third year, the three-generation family will step foot on the starting line together.
“I consider the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k my official initiation into my chosen new community!” said Goldkuhle.
To hear more about Ute Goldkulhe and her story, visit her website www.funfitandhealthygrandma.com. Registration for the April 13 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k and Virginia 529 Kids Run is now open at www.sportsbackers.org. The 2013 Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k will accept the first 40,000 entries.