David Bailey may have gotten into the world of 5K races late in life, but he is certainly making up for lost time.
Since 2014, the 73-year-old Turlock resident has participated in 181 races and shows no signs of slowing down.
Bailey opts to walk rather than run, but he’s still managed to take first place for his age group on several occasions, including recently when he won first for the 70-79 age group at the So Fit City 5K/10K in Fairfield on Oct. 13, even though he stumbled at the end.
“I was feeling pretty wore out at the end and stumbled, but I picked myself up and finished,” Bailey said. “You always have to finish no matter what. That’s the most important thing.”
Bailey got into the sport after his daughter encouraged him to join her in a 5K race here in Turlock in 2014.
“I liked it and at the end I thought I can do more of these,” Bailey said.
Bailey served in the U.S. Army for 20 years and is a Vietnam War combat veteran. He also worked as a dispatcher at Fort Ord and the Presidio of Monterey.
Bailey prefers to participate in the races that are raising money or awareness for charities and goes to ones both close and far from home. He goes through a pair of sturdy walking shoes in about a year’s time.
“I enjoy the camaraderie and meeting different people,” Bailey said. “Plus, it’s good to get out of the house and get some exercise.”
Typically, Bailey has a walking pace of 14 to 15 minutes per mile and his best time was a 12:12 mile.
For those individuals considering trying a 5K for the first time, Bailey offers this advice: “Just get out there and give it a try. You don’t have to win; you just have to finish.”