Silver Mettle: This 90-Year-Old Is in Better Shape Than You


Dick Soller was born in 1927. Ninety years later he hit his annual Fitbit miles goal—a very fitting 2,017—with three weeks to spare. The North Bend resident spent 40 years as a Procter & Gamble display materials manager, and the last 35 as an accomplished senior-circuit track and field athlete. All told, Soller has won 1,050 trophies, medals, or plaques, including a recent first-place finish in the long jump in the 85–89 group at the 2017 USA Track and Field Master Indoors Championships (when he was 89) and a third-place finish in both the high jump and the long jump at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama (by which point he’d turned 90). At the most recent Flying Pig, he won the 90–98 age group in the 10K run…though he was also the sole entrant.

Photograph by Annette Navarro

→I went out for track in high school, and the first meet I got into I tore a hamstring. Didn’t even get halfway down the track on a 400-meter run. I went to Purdue and was the student manager for the track and cross country teams. I got my letter sweater, but I was just the cleanup guy, taking care of towels.

→My wife’s father was a good bowler, and when her mother died he was probably around 80, and we saw an ad in the paper that said, “Senior Olympics.” And we thought, well, maybe with his wife being gone he may like to do something like that. I wasn’t old enough to get into it, because you had to be 55 years old, so I kind of managed my father-in-law. He did some bowling and then got into some other things. He’d walk around the track, throw the shot. I thought these people were having a lot of fun, so when I turned 55, I thought, “I want to do that.”

→I like to compete, but I like the fitness probably more. I know I’m not the top dog. I’m not a record holder. I persevere. I’ve always had that fire in my body to just keep moving.

→I’m slower and lower and not as fast as I used to be, but I’ve really enjoyed the camraderie. The people are just dedicated, upbeat, positive people. Don’t complain. Fun. I’m proud to be around them.

→My wife Jean supports me all the way out there. God bless her. She sits out in the hot sun while I’m running around, with her umbrella in the stands. We travel a heck of a lot together, mostly by car. We like to drive and look and then compete. I’ve participated in 35 different states at one time or another. We’ve been to Canada for meets. Mexico, Puerto Rico, Barbados. We went to Melbourne for a World Masters meet and combined it with a vacation trip in Australia and New Zealand. People from all over the world, and I got a third place in the long jump. That was a proud moment.

→People ask me [if I have a medal room]. If I’ve won something recently, I’ll put it on my dresser upstairs. It might last there a few weeks. Then I put it in the basement. I’ve got a couple of plaques that I display.

→I entered the Chicago Marathon with my daughter, who’s a good runner. She inspires me, and I inspire her. She made up this sign, which she carried the whole darn race when we were going through it. It said, “My Dad is 85, what are you doing out there?” It turned out I was the oldest finisher in the race.

→I don’t feel that old. I really, really feel good. I get asked sometimes, “How’s your health?” on a survey or something. I say “excellent.” I try to watch what I eat and keep the sodium and fat down, but I eat anything I want. I’ve been blessed over the years. I pretty much have kept the same routine. I work out three times a week on the strength machines, and I do an awful lot of walking. Fast walking. I enjoy walking with people around the track. I like people, and I like to talk about track and field. And exercise. I’m sometimes told maybe I exercise my jaw more than I do my body.

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