Impressive feat: 86-year-old woman and 90-year-old man log hundreds of miles during pandemic

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Several thousand WNYers recently accomplished a huge feat. From May 15th to September 15th, more than 4,000 runners, walkers, cyclists and swimmers took part in a virtual race. Their goal was to log 434 miles in four months, which is the distance from Niagara Square to Times Square.

And two participants really stood out.

In his Orchard Park home, Al Browne pumps up his tires, puts on his gloves and adjusts a tiny mirror on his helmet before every ride. He goes between 20 – 35 miles each time he gets out on the road.

“(I) usually (ride) three times a week… sometimes four,” Browne said.

He makes it all look and sound so effortless.

Especially for a guy who is 90 years old.

“What can I say? It’s something I really enjoy doing and it helps keep you fit.”

Browne took on the challenge to log enough miles on his bike to make it across the state over the past several months. But the 90-year-old went one step further.

“If you’re there, you have to come back,” he said.

Yep. Browne did enough miles to go to NYC and all the way back to Buffalo in four months. That’s nearly 900 miles in all.

And he wasn’t the only over-achiever.

Edna Hyer also took part in the NYSVR434 race. Over the past four months, the 86-year-old walked two or three times a day, seven days a week. She logged enough miles to get to NYC and then back to Utica.

“I don’t (think it’s a big accomplishment,)” Hyer said. “I’m sure other people would do it too.”

Hyer said she would have run the race, but she recently hurt her foot. And those feet have accomplished a lot. Since 1978, she’s competed in 2,263 races. That’s nearly 50 races a year over the past 42 years.

And both Hyer and Browne said they have no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

“Anybody can do it… anybody can,” Browne said. “You’re going to do it at your own pace. That’s the secret… that’s what keeps ya going.”

“I know it’s good for me,” Hyer said. “I just have to keep going.”

The race director for the NYSVR434 told News 4, he wanted to stay in shape during a time when many people were cooped up at home. He thought a couple hundred people would sign up and was shocked to see more than 4,000 people were interested.

And the race did more than just keep people in shape, it also raised $76,000 for FeedMore WNY.

He’s now hosting another race called 7 Races, 7 Continents. The race allows participants to log miles virtually on every continent. Edna is participating in that as well, despite telling us she believes the parameters are, “too easy.”

Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.

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