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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

72 years old and still going strong

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Local celebrity Bob Lemont riding his bike. Lemont, who is nearly 73 years old, started running when he was 41 and picked up biking recently, and hasn't quit either since.

-Age doesn't stop Lemont from doing what he loves

At an age where most people are retired from labor, Bob Lemont is going strong.

The 72-year-old (73 next month) has been running and biking for 32 years now, and has made quite a name for himself within the community in the process.

"You make a lot of friends, meet a lot of good people when you run," said Lemont.

He has run in countless competitions, "several," as he puts it. One year, though the date escapes him, stands out in his mind -- -- he ran 45 races in 12 months.

"Some weeks I'd get home from a tourney on Saturday and go to the next one on Sunday," he said.

His pace has slowed some now: He runs four to five races a year, though he is still as active as ever. He started running at age 41, though he didn't run too many races to start with. He started with marathons in Terre Haute, from 1973 to around '83, when they ended, though through the years he has run in Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville, and other places.

His best marathon was in Terre Haute, in fact, where he completed in 2:54.

One event he fondly remembers running is the 9.3-mile Blueberry Stomp race, held at the Blueberry Festival in Plymouth, Indiana. The race, he said, is notable because spectators throw blueberries on the ground before the race.

In his younger days, when he worked at Terre Haute Strand Steel, he pushed himself even harder than he does today. Besides working eight- to 12-hour days, he would go out and run for several miles.

"I remember one day I ran a marathon, came back to work and pulled an eight-hour shift," he said. "Sometimes I'd go to the ISU track before work and run 12 or 13 miles in the morning, then go work 12 hours. That was back when I was really crazy."

He tries to do his best, but things beyond his control sometimes happen.

He recounts the tale of the time he went to Louisville, full of vigor and hoping to set a record for the 50-and-over age group.

"The afternoon of the race it got really hot out, and I pushed myself a bit too hard. I struggled through the race, and it ended up being the worst one I ever ran.

"Needless to say, I didn't set the record that day."

Though he likes the competition involved with running, Bob said participating can get hard.

"There are really some tough old guys out there," he said.

He also said that his wife, Mary Jo, once an occasional spectator, now makes it to every event he runs or bikes.

After recent hip problems stemming from the mini-marathon in Indianapolis, Bob has taken to biking. The week before his interview, Lemont said that he biked 170 miles, 50 of which he rode the day before. Along with his "agent," Jimmy Grey, he rode across the state in 10 hours and 38 minutes in the recent RAIN (Ride Across Indiana).

Lemont calls Grey an inspiration, while Grey calls Lemont "The Legend." They have known each other for 20 years, from when they used to run together at the old YMCA. Together they have run marathons, mini-mara-thons, and rode the aforementioned RAIN.

"He was the guy to beat around here for some time," Grey said, "and not just because he was older, because he was that good.

"He started when he was 40, and he was running when running wasn't the cool thing. He ran in Converse All-Stars because there weren't running shoes then."

When asked why he called Lemont "The Legend," Grey laughed.

"He's just a Brazil legend," he said, "everyone knows of him. He's just a good guy to know, and an amazing piece of machinery."

Lemont says that he tries to get out and run more now than when he first injured his hip.

Along with physical activity, Lemont and his wife also run a booth for the Covered Bridge Festival. It used to be a food stand, though now they only sell soft drinks and water. Food vending, he said, was too much work.

"There are 100 cases water and I don't know how many cases of pop in my garage right now," he said, "we try to get it when it's on sale so we can sell everything cheap. We have a lot of fun, and though we don't make much money at it, we make a lot of friends."

Still active, Lemont was on the way to his son's house to help paint after the interview.

"Sometimes people just can't believe it," he said when asked what people thought of his activities. "I can't believe it myself at times. They say 'boy, you don't look and act like a 73-year-old,' and I ask them what a 73-year-old should look and act like. I guess I'm still just a kid at heart."

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