SALT LAKE CITY — John David Cahill, who chose Patrick as his Confirmation name, crossed the finish line of the 2018 Run for the Nuns in 59:15. Given that he’s 94 years old, some people may be impressed with his accomplishment, but discussing the race not long after he finished, he sounded almost disgusted with his time.
“It took me an hour,” he said. “That’s 20 minutes a mile. People walk faster than I can jog.”
Things were different 32 years ago, when he began running at the age of 62. He soon began to race. Competing was natural, he said, “to see how fast I was.”
At his peak he was competing in 45 races a year, sometimes twice on a Saturday. Logging 45 to 70 miles while training six days a week, he would enter about 10 half-marathons and one or two marathons yearly, as well as dozens of 5Ks, he said.
Most of his nine children ran; his daughter Kathleen Cahill and his daughter-in-law Joyce Cahill joined him in the Sept. 16 Run for the Nuns.
“I love running. I really love running. I’m sorry I can’t run everywhere,” he said. “Everything I read about getting old is ‘keep moving.’”
These days, weekend races are the only time he runs. Last year he participated in 32 5Ks, but this year he estimates that number is down to about half a dozen because he has lost cartilage in his knee.
“I don’t think running had anything to do with it,” he said. “I think it’s old age. You know, if you live long enough, you get every malady there is.”
This is the second time he participated in the Run for the Nuns, which began in 2010. He doesn’t remember what year he ran the first time. “All I remember about the first race was that first hill. It’s awful,” he said.
The hill was just as bad this year, said Cahill, who was raised Catholic in a small town in Kansas. He attended seven years of Catholic elementary school and four years of Catholic high school, and was taught by nuns.
“The nuns were wonderful,” he said. “I got the best education a guy could have gotten in those days.”
He came to Utah to ski the first time in 1960 and moved here in 1976.
Having cooled down from the race, Cahill waxed philosophical about his finishing time. “Remember, finishing is winning. ... Running is the best and cheapest exercise there is. Even walking – that’s what I do now – even walking. But just keep moving. That’s what you have to do.”