VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Move over, Usain Bolt. You might have some competition from a nearly 100-year-old man.

CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reports Bill Benson – at the spry age of 96 – is close to his goal of running in 1,000 career races. He is only 17 away.

Benson has been running for 36 years, winning medals and setting records for his age group. He told CBS2 he’s hoping to hit his 1,000-race mark soon.

“The best way to die is running while you’re out on the road. You have no pain, you don’t sit in the hospital for weeks,” Benson said. “What a wonderful way to go. I don’t know if that makes sense to anybody, only to runners, probably.”

Benson explained that he wasn’t running all of his life. He stopped after college, but picked it up again on his wife’s gentle suggestion.

“Sixty was the magic age for me. I started over again,” he told CBS2. “I kept telling my wife that they don’t make clothes like they used to. These keep shrinking. She said, ‘They’re not shrinking. You’re getting fat.’”

Benson called his wife his inspiration while running.

“She was my inspiration. She always said, ‘Get out of the house and run,’” he told CBS2.

Benson is usually seen running around Hendrickson Park in the village of Valley Stream. He said sometimes he thinks about nothing out on the pavement.

“That’s the best part. It just gives you a feeling. Some days you feel like you can run forever and somedays you feel like you can’t do anything,” he told CBS2.

He continued, “If I had a problem at work, I could come home and start running, and by the time I was finished running, I had solved the problem.”

The meat-and-potatoes runner said the key to a long life is goal-setting – set your own finish line and achieve that goal.

Benson’s next big race is his favorite – the 5th Avenue Mile in September – and he wants to break the record for his age group.


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