Area residents Mac and Jean McCrady prove athleticism is not about age, but rather inspiration and attitude. The two regular Shepherd’s Cove Hospice Race to Remember participants have amassed numerous racing records in their life but it in less time than most would think.

Mac was athletic in his younger years, but his real running career didn’t start until age 50. He began running for exercise. Now with more than 700 races under his shoes, Mac’s passion extends beyond health benefits.

“You just gain a positive addiction to running,” he said. “Your goal is always to reach your potential.”

From his first race, a four-mile road run in Dothan in 1982, Mac has carried his love for racing across the country. His experience spans road, trail, and cycling races, as well as duathlons, in New Mexico, Utah, and more. At the age of 65, he even took on what is dubbed as the “Colorado fourteeners” – a collection of 14,000-foot mountains. Mac made more than 100 ascents up 33 of the famous ranges.

He also now claims 54 Alabama racing records, all of which he set after turning 70. A few were earned locally at the Shepherd’s Cove Race to Remember 5K in Albertville.

Jean and Mac (far left and far right) posed for a picture with Rhonda Osborne (center), Shepherd’s Cove CEO, after receiving medals for placing first in their age division at the 2018 Race to Remember.

Overcoming obstacles

Mac has overcome many health obstacles in his racing career, including a broken hip from a near-fatal bicycle accident in 2011. After intensive surgery, Mac determined to return to running by means of his own rehabilitation regiment. In just three and a half months, he worked himself up from using a walker to running a 5K in just more than 30 minutes.

“It says a lot about the kind of runner he is, was, and has been,” said Mac’s wife, Jean. “He’s tough, and he’s been my inspiration.”

Fearless

Jean also caught the running “bug” from her husband. For years, Jean ran for exercise while she also ran her own business, Mountain Lakes Resort in Guntersville. The demands of her business did not allow much time for training and racing. However, after retirement, the McCrady’s moved to Hampton Cove, where the multitude of nearby races were impossible to resist. Encouraged by her husband’s athletic feats, Jean ran her first race – the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K – and won the top prize for her age division. She was 81 years old.

In the past four years, Jean has accumulated 10 state records for 1-mile, 10K, and mostly 5K. In recent years, Mac and Jean have focused on charity runs in Huntsville, Guntersville, and Albertville.

“It’s just pretty exciting to think, ‘Hey, I can do this,’” Jean said. “You just want to do it again and again and again.”

The McCrady’s never let fear be a factor in their athletic goals. They say the right attitude with some training is all that’s necessary to compete.

“Just do it,” Jean said. “After you do it once, you’ll know what you need to do to improve. You’re always competing with yourself. Your time gets compared with others, but really you’re always competing against your own best time.”

Mac and Jean celebrate after competing in a Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K.

Striving ahead

Although recent bouts with atrial fibrillation (AFib) now prevent Mac from racing, Jean carries on, still inspired by her husband.

“I’m sure that without his history and involvement in running, I never would’ve started,” she said.

Jean plans to run in the upcoming Shepherd’s Cove Race to Remember 5K at Albertville High School on April 27. Mac will be there to cheer her on from the sidelines.

What are your goals? What do you hope to achieve in life?

The Race to Remember 5K benefits the Shepherd’s Cove Foundation, which supports the Shepherd’s Cove hospice, palliative, and grief support programs. Community support for this event helps give a new hope to people facing an end-of-life journey – hope for peace, comfort, and dignity. Hope to see a last wish fulfilled, a day without pain, or a beautiful life after losing a loved one.

Learn more or sign up at racetoremember.run.