Still running, still winning

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, May 5, 2009

At age 74, Oscar Cook of Chelsea is still running, and still winning races.

“I never realized this sweet man I married was so competitive (until he began running),” said Cook’s wife Karen.

She laughed as she told about a lawyer from Birmingham that he met running. They always act so glad to see each other, she said. But, when the race begins, it’s “cut throat” time.

“Well, the object is to win,” Cook laughed.

During the month of April, Cook placed first in two 5K races for his age group. By the end of the month he had already run 515 miles in competition this year.

Added to this total are the four to 11 miles he runs each day to keep in shape. When the weather is too bad for running outside, he runs on a treadmill.

Diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, Cook and his wife Karen began walking together for their health.

“But he couldn’t just walk,” she said. “He would end up running or jogging even then.”

“I found that easier than moving slow,” said Cook.

Cook’s doctor put him on medication for his diabetic condition. But after a couple of months his blood sugar level was so good that he came off it. Today, he takes only glucosamine and multivitamins, he said.

It was after Cook retired from Jim & Jim Motor Company at 65 that he began running in competitions.

In the Huntsville Half–marathon (13 miles 352 yards) last November, Cook set a record for 74–year–olds with the time 152:31. Cook has run for heart disease and cancer research, the Birmingham Zoo, church youth groups, Hannah Home in Shelby County, the homeless and underprivileged, St Jude’s Hospital in Memphis and others.

He has run in places as far away as the Tybee Islands, where he placed first in his age group on his very first trip there, in 2004.

Along with his running, Cook grows a garden every year, goes on mission trips with Central Alabama Christian Builders and works puzzles for relaxation. He and his wife of 44 years have two children, five grandchildren and two great¬–grandchildren.