Harrison to compete in Jingle Bell Run at age 90

Published 12:45 am Saturday, November 21, 2009

Henry Harrison plans to take part in the Jingle Bell Run as part of the Christmas on the River festivities on Saturday, Dec. 5. He hopes to be able to complete the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course in under an hour. While the top time from last year was under 20 minutes, completing the 5K run in under an hour would be impressive as it is – for a man who turns 91 in January.

Harrison began walking after retiring from the soil conservation service with the U.S. Department of Agriculture years ago.

“I started walking down at Foscue Park,” said the Arkansas native. “I started doing five miles to start with, then I cut it down to three. I got tired of the mosquitoes and bugs and weather, so I can over here to the Wellness Center at the hospital. That was in 2005.”

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The picture of health and fitness, Harrison attributes his running regimen to his fit physique.

“It keeps me healthy,” he said. “It gives you an appetite, and it keeps you out of trouble!”

An honored veteran of World War II, Harrison does more than give the treadmills a workout. He works with the weights and other equipment at the Wellness Center.

He sees a growing problem in the nation today, as a once fitness-conscious country has become more sedentary.

“I think you can tell by the size of people that they aren’t getting enough exercise,” he said. “I think they need to come up with a program for exercise. The first exercise I did when I was younger was try out for the boxing team at the University of Arkansas. Of course, I didn’t win many fights, but I got a lot of exercise!”

Harrison found a lot of the things he needs to keep fit at the BWWMH Wellness Center.

“We have a lot of equipment that is low-impact, and that’s great for seniors,” said Center director Betsy Adams. “We’re kind of a social outlet for them, too. Some of them don’t get out a lot, so they come up here and visit with their buddies.

“He (Harrison) is my hero! I’ve seen him to 60 push-ups, he still jogs – he’s the only person his age I know of who still jogs! He’s sharp as attack, and he eats very healthy, too. He’s very conscious of eating healthy.”

Harrison has competed in the Jingle Bell Run for several years, once competing against Tony Lipscomb in his age class, but now finding himself in a class by himself. Whether he blitzes through the course in less than an hour or doesn’t quite reach his goal, he will be pretty well guaranteed to win his age group.