Frank Abramic has been watching people run in the park by his home for years. In an interview with Runner’s World, he admitted, “I used to think, ‘These people are crazy – they don’t look like they’re having any fun. They look like they’re always in pain.’”
But, when he was 63, he had a change of heart and began running himself. Now, he understands the pain that runners endure and the exhilaration of pushing through it. This year marks the 17th consecutive year in which he completed the Chicago Marathon with a respectable 6:22:01.
His running has inspired four other members of his families to begin running, including his younger brother who is 77 years old. “I don’t look at the marathon as a race,” Abramic said, “It’s a 26-mile journey, is what it is.”
Four of his family members also ran Chicago this year, including 77-year-old brother John (6:03:07), John’s daughters Janet Abramic (5:12:02) and Karen Abramic-Dilger (4:44:31), and Karen’s husband Mike Dilger (5:44:19). Though they finished ahead of him today, Frank blazed the trail for the family, all of whom started running after watching him race. “I tell him all the time, ‘Look what you started, Uncle Frank,’” Janet said. Though he tends to shy away from the spotlight, “I think he’s maybe a little bit proud that he started the tradition.”
Until age 63, Frank worked as a mechanical designer, spending long, sedentary hours at a drawing board. At one point, his boss began running to keep health problems in check. “He would go out and run, and I’d be sitting there working,” he said. “I think my main motive was to be on the right path, too, doing this regimen.”
When he first tried running after retirement, Frank was surprised to find himself not only healthier, but also happier as well. “After a long run, you feel relaxed. It’s kind of stress relief,” he said. “And then you’ve got the camaraderie of people that you run with.”
He raced a 5K, then a 10K, then a half marathon. All of those before deciding to take on the full 26.2. In 1999, at age 64, he finished his first Chicago Marathon in 4:54:22.