The Heartland Racewalkers will celebrate their 25th anniversary July 5. But first, President Alan Poisner is taking 97-year old Jean Brunnenkan to lunch Thursday. She’s the oldest Heartland Racewalker.
“She’s an inspiration,” Poisner says. “I use her to tell people it’s never too old to start.”
On June 17, Poisner ran five miles on his treadmill. Three days later, he was one of nine Heartland Racewalkers to compete at the Missouri State Senior Games in Columbia. All nine participants won medals in the 1,500-meter walk, and two walkers set record times in their age groups.
Poisner is 79, pushing 80, a retired faculty member at the University of Kansas Hospital who still does part-time research as a physician. And he always makes sure to make time for walking.
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“Showing up is what counts in life,” Poisner tells his group.
“It’s not so obvious how old a person is,” he says. “So when I was competing in Columbia on Friday, I competed in the 80-84 division, which is partly why I set a record. But only partly.”
Heartland Racewalkers has 50 members. The club meets weekly on Saturday mornings and represents Kansas City in various competitions around the country and world.
Poisner says his greatest individual accomplishment is winning the World Masters Athletics in 2011. The competition was held in Sacramento, Calif., and included athletes from 46 countries.
But he takes more pride in what his group has accomplished over the years, including simply making it 25 years.
“It’s kind of a milestone because we are one of the larger racewalking clubs,” Poisner said. “I’ve competed all over, and I’ve seen races all over, and we’re kind of egalitarian.”
The group will gather at Roe Park in Overland Park at 9 a.m. July 5. Current and past members are invited to attend. Awards will be given out and entertainment will be provided.