▶️ Only a number: 85-year-old Bend woman completes 100th half marathon


85-year-old Shar Tobin crossed the finish line of her 100th half marathon at the Happy Girls race in her hometown of Bend this spring, showcasing her determination and inspiring people of all ages. 

Tobin’s running journey began over five decades ago, sparked by her first dog’s influence. Despite not starting competitive racing until her mid-sixties, Tobin’s commitment to running remains unwavering. 

In the span of only about 20 years, Tobin completed 100 half marathons, many of which she’s done with her daughter. 

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Her consistency in training, including running, jogging or walking about five miles on weekdays and 8 to 10 miles on weekends, coupled with strength training, has kept her remarkably healthy. She’s never been injured because of running, however a knee injury ahead of the Happy Girls half nearly left her out of the race. 

The injury was due to an incident with a dog. She ended up rupturing her knee tendon, requiring surgery. That’s when she met Steve Tasson and the team of physical therapists at Mandon Welch. 

“She’s definitely a go getter,” Tasson said of Tobin. 

Tobin and the other physical therapists worked with Tobin to get her race ready. With just a few months until race day, many would call off the competition, not Tobin. 

She was diligent about her physical therapy exercises, one of her secrets to success. 

Movement in general as your age can have incredible benefits, something Tobin clearly understands. 

“If we don’t move, things get stiff, things get weak,” Tasson said. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of American adults meeting the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises peaks between between ages 18 and 34. It’s downhill from there. 

Just 11% of women and 15% of men 65 and older meet those guidelines. 

Furthermore, a 2006 study concluded regular physical activity helps prevent several chronic disease and reduces the risk of early death. 

The CDC adding exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, among other illnesses. It can help you better withstand the flu and covid and reduces your chances of getting cancers including breast, colon and lung. 

So, what does Tobin have to say when asked about others using age as an excuse to slow down? 

“Anyone can get off their rear ends and walk,” she said. “Just get up and do it.” 

Her commitment to the sport is now inspiring those much younger than her. 

Tasson and the physical therapists at Mandon Welch were so moved by Tobin’s dedication, they decided to make it their goal to run a half marathon. They signed up for the Happy Girls half and completed the race. 

Furthermore, Tobin’s granddaughter Keala decided to join the Happy Girls half alongside her grandmother, mom and aunt. It was her first half marathon, but it won’t be her last. 

When Keala was asked if she’d be running half marathons with her mom when her mom hits 80 years old, Keala said yes. It seems the tradition will continue, all thanks to Tobin’s persistence and dedication. 

Tobin has since competed her 101st half marathon and she has no plans on stopping now. 

“I’ll keep doing them as long as I am able,” Tobin said. 


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