In describing unity of a married couple over a long period, it is common to refer to the bonds that tie two souls together. In the case of Margaret and Fred Hoey of Oxford, Pa., those “ties” may well be laces on a pair of running shoes.
Running has been integral to their lives. At 73 and 75, respectively, Margaret and Fred radiate an energy and healthfulness that belie their ages — they could easily pass for half their ages. But their time together on the trails also reflects their close-knit relationship as a couple.
“I was an athlete all my life,” Margaret says. “I played field hockey pretty seriously through high school and college, which involved running. But this was back before competitive running for women was really an option.”
She originally assuaged her “need for speed” on horseback, competing in show jumping. But after a few scary falls, her family convinced her to switch sports.
“I said, ‘That’s enough of that,’ Margaret admits, “and took up running, which I always wanted to do anyway. It’s absolutely my passion. I love it.”
Although she has participated in the Boston Marathon and the Broad Street Run more times than she cares to count, running at Valley Forge National Historical Park is special.
She’s drawn by the challenge: “I can run through sections of Valley Forge Park without even breathing hard,” she describes. “But tackling those hills! Those parts of it are harder than you think.”
Her appreciation includes the natural beauty: “It is absolutely fabulous. I love it. You’re always safe there. It’s just such a great place to run. We go down on the trails behind the park, it’s a fabulous run, especially in summer.”
Last, Margaret describes the deep emotional pull of Valley Forge. When her children were living nearby in Collegeville, Margaret would pick up her toddler grandson, Jaxson, for a day’s outing. “Every single day, I put him in his baby carriage, from the time he was like three weeks old and ran him around the park,” she recalls. “We did that for two, solid years. That park holds such great memories.”
That exposure, Margaret explains, obviously had an impact; Jaxson, now 16, is now a nationally classed miler, competing on his own. “I often tease him that it all started at Valley Forge Park,” she laughs.
Her love for the site sparked an interest last year in the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-Mile Run®, and Margaret and Fred ran the course for the first time. They’ve signed up for this year’s edition as well, taking place next Sunday, April 27, 2014. “We may run as a family,” she says. “Last year, I finished ahead of Fred. But this year, Jaxson may pace himself so that he and Fred finish together.”
I tell her honestly that given her age and drive, she is inspiring. It is a label she wears uncomfortably. “I would do anything to help the Valley Forge race. Not that Fred and I could run and inspire anybody. But we do run into that sometimes. When we were running yesterday, some kids ran by us who said, ‘Oh, they’re so amazing.’ And we knew it meant it was because we were so old. The notion was: ‘Look at you! You’re still running! Shock!’”
She continues. “But I don’t feel old. I’m always surprised when I’m running in the city, and I look in a shop window and see an old lady in the reflection. Because it’s such a state of mind, isn’t it?”
Indeed it is.
Although online registration for the Rev Run has closed, it is still possible to join in the competition. The office of the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1000 First Avenue, King of Prussia, will be open for registrations on the following schedule:
- Friday, April 25, 2014, 4–6 p.m.
- Saturday, April 26, 2014, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Walk-up registrations are not available on race day at the park; although registered participants may take advantage of onsite packet pickup.
For more information on participating on any level in the 2014 Rev Run (running, walking, youth run, volunteering, sponsoring), see our website.
The Rev Run on Sunday morning can be the anchor to a terrific weekend in Montgomery County, but there’s no need to pound the pavement looking for comfortable accommodations. To jog your memory about some of the best that we track, see the recommendations on our site.