Carolyn Langenwalter is a world record holder.
The 81-year-old Calvin resident won three medals and helped the USA Track and Field women’s 4x200 relay team set a world record at the 8th World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland.
Langenwalter and American teammates Irene Obera, Florence Meiler, and Rose Green finished in 3:18.43 in the women’s 80 division for the new world mark. She said getting a spot in the record books is great, but she hopes it inspires people her age to achieve their own goals.
“I think our job at this age is to try to show other adults that they can do a lot and they don't have to go out to world events, but they can do so many things,” she said.
“Attitude is everything,” Langenwalter said. “If you go forth with a great attitude, great things can happen.”
Langenwalter grew up in Anthony, Kansas, and her school only had intramural sports without competing against other schools.
But competition still drove her to excel in other areas, such as showing dairy cattle in 4-H before graduating from Anthony High School in 1955.
Langenwalter went on to graduate from Emporia State University and was a third-grade teacher for 30 years.
She played softball and basketball with the students during recess and stayed active, but didn’t run in events until her later years.
Langenwalter spent most of the early part of her running career based on running form she learned as a child from Beryl Roach, one of her elementary school teachers.
She didn’t start running competitively until she was around 70 years old, when she competed in a 5K in Hesston, Kansas.
After she placed second in her age division, she continued training and went on to compete in several 5Ks.
Langenwalter said she then went for a spot on the USATF team and was switched from long-distance running to sprints.
“I just sort of started running and one thing led to another and I started going to all these world events,” she said.
Langenwalter has competed in Budapest, France, Australia, South Korea and other places across the globe.
She drives 30 miles from Calvin twice a week to train at the McAlester Regional Wellness Center, where she trains mostly inside the facility, but hopes to do more outdoors prior to a national competition later this year in Ames, Iowa.
Trainer Keegan Linehan “is like a grandson” to Langenwalter, who said she enjoys the staff at MRWC.
“I always thank them because I need to have them looking at me and talking to me and saying ‘you're doing well’ because it makes me stronger,” Langenwalter said. “I’m so glad they noticed because I want to do better for them and I want to do better for myself in the end.”
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org