Outstanding Athlete – Dr. Paul Spangler

“Outstanding Athletes” – celebrating those who shine in their outstanding athletic performance and shine as outstanding individuals.
Dr. Paul Spangler  >>
“I’m just an ordinary guy who saw the light, and I want to tell anyone who’ll listen.” -runner Paul Spangler, at age 91 (in 1990)
Paul Spangler was “Born as a runner at 67” and was a pioneer in age-group running. He started to compete in running events upon his retirement as a doctor in San Luis Obispo, CA when too many of his friends were passing away from heart disease.
Our Founder, Greg Hind, sponsored Spangler and followed his iconic accomplishments, including the World Record he set in the 4th Annual Run For the Zoo on Sunday, May 7, 1989 in New Mexico where he ran under the race number 503. 
During his time as a new runner he earned dozens of age-group records and won many World Masters Championship medals at meets around the world. Some of his successes include the following:
  • – He earned numerous age-group records from 400 meters through the marathon.
  • – He ran a 3:59 Marathon PR at age 77.
  • – He was a member of the all-American swim team during the last three years of his life.
  • – He earned a number of national swimming titles.
  • – He won the Golden Shoe Award in 1987 for inspiring other senior citizens toward healthier lifestyle.

Spangler earned a reputation for going beyond what was physically and mentally expected for his age. His story was covered in many news publications. To highlight a couple:


As highlighted in the article, THE HUMAN | RACE, edited by Eileen Portz-Shovlin >>>

“In 1987, 88-year-old Paul Spangler traveled to Melbourne, Australia, and won six gold medals at the World Veterans Games – a track-and-field competition held every two years for athletes 35 and older. ”

“‘Everyone should have a fitness program so they can enjoy a high quality of life,’ says Spangler, a retired doctor from San Luis Obispo, California, who runs 25 miles and swims 3 miles a week.”

Read the full article here.


As highlighted in the article, 86-year-old physician wreaks havoc on running trail >>>

“LONG BEFORE his running days, Dr. Spangler was acting Navy chief of sur­gery, a post he held at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. After a brief return to private practice, he rejoined the Navy, retiring from it in 1959. He spent two years with Project Hope, then was a pris­on surgeon at the California Men’s Colony until his 1969 retirement.”

“Now, Dr. Spangler, a 1923 Harvard Medical School graduate, tries to ‘avoid work as much as possible.’ In addition to running, he belongs to a barbershop quartet – to keep his voice active – and maintains his yard.”

Read more of the article here.



One Comment

William Abplanalp

Dr Spangler was beyond remarkable.
I do hope that someone has written his biography.
He lived though so many events of the twentieth century and created a lasting legacy. He is a hero.


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