Five days per week, Albert Williams sprints on the local high school track, and does strength training at the gym and lots of stretching.
In July, all of his hard work paid off.
With a time of 13.35 seconds, Williams, 71, of Bethesda, took gold in the 100-meter men’s race (70- to 74-year-old age group) in the World Masters Athletic Championship, beating his closest competition by about one second.
The 12-day competition attracts athletes from around the world, including 40 in Williams’ race. The event took place July 6 through 17 in Sacramento, Calif.
Although he won’t be breaking the 100M world record of 9.58 seconds, held by Olympic champion Usain Bolt, Williams said the thrill of competition and the health benefits of running keep him going.
“I’ve always loved when you get into the starting blocks — I just like to do that,” Williams said. “I like to hear the guns.”
He added: “It’s nice to win.”
Williams does not like to brag about his success. He said knowing he succeeded and his family is proud of him is enough satisfaction.
But his wife, Sue, 69, said she gets so excited about her husband’s wins, she feels compelled to tell everyone.
“It’s me who has to tell people, ‘Oh, Alby’s been winning races,’” Sue said. “He’ll come back and say, ‘Why did you have to say that?’ He would never blow his own trumpet.”
Williams began competing as a runner in his 20s. After moving from his native Australia in 1969, competitions took a back seat to work and raising his two children, Sarah, 38, and David, 40.
But Williams continued to make time to run. During his lunch breaks at Communication Satellite Corporation, where he worked as an electrical engineer, he daily ran along the picturesque Clarksburg roads near his office on his lunch breaks.
He competed sporadically in his 40s, but when he retired in late 2001, running became his full-time occupation; he now trains about two hours per day, five days per week. His routine begins with a brief run on the treadmill at the gym, followed by stretching and strength exercises, then a trip to Walter Johnson High School to run repeats of sprint distances, which he times.
Although Williams is not as limber as his 20-year-old self, he’s never competed as well as he does now, he said. He estimated he has lost only between two and three seconds off his time since his youthful days of running.
“Although my times have gotten slower, I may have gotten less slow than some other people,” he said.
The competition in July was Williams’ first world championship, although he hopes it won’t be his last. He already is training for the 2015 World Masters Athletic Championship in France, when he will be 75 and at the younger end of the 75 to 79 age range.