Nov. 19, 2012
Twenty-first in a series of the top 30 moments from the California International Marathon’s colorful history. The 30th anniversary race is on Dec. 2. By John Schumacher

At 80, local running legend keeps providing inspiration
She didn’t start running until she was 55. And then Helen Klein turned into an inspiring role model.

The retired nurse’s running resume includes more than 200 ultra-marathons and marathons, a long list of world and American age-group records and a place in USA Track & Field’s Masters Hall of Fame.

Klein enjoyed many shining moments at the California International Marathon, none brighter than that gorgeous December day in 2002 when she shattered the world age-group record for women 80 and older with a 4:31:32 performance.

“That was the perfect day,” said Klein, who broke the old mark by 39 minutes. “It was shady, not too hot and not windy.

“I was able to hold my form better. It just turned out perfect.”

Klein, from Rancho Cordova, recalled shooting for a 4:45 finish but then exceeding her expectations when she felt so strong.

“I enjoy running better when I’m not too cold and not too hot,” she said.

Klein went on to break another world record at the 2007 CIM, setting a new mark for women 85 and older with a 5:49:11 effort. That was more than an hour faster than the previous record.

She doesn’t run competitively anymore. But as Klein approaches her 90th birthday, she’s still in good shape thanks to a weekly workout regimen that includes several walks with a little jogging and three trips to the gym.

“I feel good,” she said.

Still too tired to go for that run?
The CIM is put on by the Sacramento Running Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.

Other SRA events include the recently concluded Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 3 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 7.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.