Saratoga Springs

At age 70, Saratoga Springs woman still an avid runner

'I just like to go out there and do it'
Laura Clark competes in a Saratoga Stryders 5K trail fun run at Wilton Wildlife Preserve in June.
Laura Clark competes in a Saratoga Stryders 5K trail fun run at Wilton Wildlife Preserve in June.

Categories: Life & Arts

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Some 29-year-olds dread turning 30.

Forty is the new 30, according to some 39-year-olds.

But at 70, Laura Clark isn’t looking back.

The Spa City distance runner is happy to have reached her seventh decade ahead of some of her friends. For Clark, it means less competition in the 70-and-older awards category. 

“I’ve been having a really good year,” she said, admitting that some of her friends who are 68 and 69 are faster than she is. “Next year, I won’t be doing as well.”

Clark has worked as a children’s librarian at Saratoga Springs Public Library since 1993. She has been running longer — since the early 1970s, when she moved to Germany with her late husband, Jeffrey Clark, whose Army service brought him there. She was a frequent cyclist then and her bike was going to take a couple months to ship by boat. 

“My husband always wanted me to run with him, and I never really wanted to, but then I did because I didn’t have my bike anymore,” she said, “and now I like running better.”

It shows. Clark ran in the Bacon Hill Bonanza 10K in Schuylerville on April 8, the Blue Needs You 8K Run in Saratoga Springs to support the city’s Code Blue homeless shelter on April 15 and the 5.67-mile run up Prospect Mountain on April 29.

“I’ve done that for years — I really like that,” she said. “I like running up.”

She also ran in the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K on June 3, the Father’s Day half-marathon on Mount Greylock on June 18 and the Firecracker 4 in Saratoga Springs on July 4.

Those were mostly road races, but these days, Clark prefers trail-running to the road, “mostly because trails, I think, are more fun, and it’s more fun to be out in the woods,” she said. “It’s more challenging. You don’t get bored, because there’s always rocks and roots, and you can’t just drift along.”

Running on trails also puts less pressure on her knees. She developed arthritis in her left knee around 2011 after twisting it on a tree root. 

This past spring, she took eight weeks of physical therapy at The Wesley Community in Saratoga Springs when her left knee started to give her trouble again and she realized she was favoring her right knee, which then started to hurt.

“I probably never would do a road marathon again because it would be too tough on my knee,” she said. “I probably would go up to about a half marathon on the road.”

Clark directs a summer trail-running series for Saratoga Striders at Camp Saratoga in Wilton, and she is signed up to run in two trail-based marathons in the coming months: one at the Thacher Park Trail Running Festival on Aug. 27 and the NipMuck Trail Marathon in Ashford, Connecticut, on Oct. 1. 

Clark’s favorite style of running, however, involves putting on snowshoes and braving the cold. 

She directs, and runs in, the Camp Saratoga 8K Snowshoe Race in Wilton and the Saratoga Winterfest 5K Snowshoe Race at Saratoga Spa State Park, both in February. 

Clark admits she doesn’t run every day; she runs about five or six days per week. When she runs harder or longer — when she’s racing or training for a marathon— she runs less, about three or four days weekly.

“I just need the time off more,” she said.

Clark said she keeps running — whether on roads, trails or snow — because she loves doing it. 

“A lot of people think it’s kind of a chore to get out there, like, ‘Oh, I have to run,’ but I’d prefer to look at it as I get to run,” she said.

She also enjoys the social element, saying a lot of her friends are “running friends, too.” She runs with those friends as a member of Saratoga Striders on Wednesday and Saturday nights. 

“It’s just a nice place to go and be with friends — maybe you go somewhere after,” she said.

What Clark doesn’t love about running is the leg exercises, which give her the strength to keep logging the miles. 

“If I didn’t have to do my leg exercises, I would stop doing them yesterday,” she said, but I wouldn’t want to stop running.”

Not now — not ever. 

“Until I die,” she said of how long she plans to run. “I just like to go out there and do it.”

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