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Gyongyosi stays active running, swimming

August 7, 2017
News and Sentinel Half Marathon

PARKERSBURG - No matter the season, Tom Gyongyosi can usually be found doing something to stay active.

For the 57-year-old North Hills resident, one of those activities is the annual Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon, which is scheduled for Aug. 19. Gyongyosi, whose name is Hungarian, has been running in the local race for 10 years.

"My running tapers off in the fall and winter because I just don't want to get burned out on it," Gyongyosi admitted. "I'll run maybe once or twice a week during the winter, and sometimes that's just on a treadmill. When (half marathon training) starts, I make it a point to start this and do the half marathon every year."

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Gyongyosi's best time ever in the race is about 1 hour, 37 minutes. Last year, he ran it in 1:44:04 to finish 90th overall and fourth in his age group.

Not your typical 57-year-old, Gyongyosi stays in shape through many activities - running, swimming and hiking, to name a few.

"I've been running for close to 30 years," he said. "My exercise of choice is really swimming.

"I swim at the (YMCA) three times a week. I mountain bike, I'm an avid skier in the winter time. I do hiking and kayaking and just recreational things like that."

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon gives Gyongyosi another outlet to push himself. He's also run half marathons in Charleston and Akron, Ohio, but he enjoys the challenges Parkersburg offers.

"They say this one's fairly hilly, but I think a lot of them are hilly, especially if you stay in the area," he said. "Parkersburg, you have the hill out 68 when you start, then it's really just rolling hills after that. Then you've got 13th Street, but it's really not that long. I live in North Hills, so when I run on weekends, that's where I run. So I'm used to it.

"By the time you've gone through the training, you pretty much have a feel for how it's going to go. It always gets hard when you come back across the Fifth Street bridge and into town. From that point on, it's more of a mental game than anything else."

Two years ago, Gyongyosi was inspired to give the Columbus Marathon a go.

"It's hard," he laughed. "You have to train a lot more for it. I hit my goal by about a minute and a half."

Gyongyosi's running career started light, but eventually he was convinced to try longer distances.

"I'd run three miles once or twice a week, then I started doing little 5Ks and things like that and every once in a while a 10K," he recalled. "That was a big deal for me.

"A lady I knew from church, who was associated with the River City Runners (and Walkers) Club, said 'You need to do the half.' She saw me running and she said 'You run well. You should do the half.' I said 'I am just not interested in killing myself.' "

Eventually, though, Gyongyosi started participating in the weekly half marathon training leading up to the race, and the rest is history.

"It worked out really well," he said. "I've been doing the training every year since then."

Now, Gyongyosi looks forward to the training as much as the race itself.

"It's the annual routine of getting myself back into shape," he said. "For me, it's about the training almost as much as the race. The training is something I've done every year and it keeps me coming back."

Gyongyosi is married to his wife, Julie. They have a son, Nick, and a daughter, Megan.



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