ACCOKEEK – For some people, retirement is about settling into a life of leisure. Whether it’s knitting, Canasta or golf, the very purpose is to slow down. For Oscar Peyton, retirement has been about speeding up. Peyton, 62, holds the national record for the 200-meter sprint in the 60 to 64-year-old age group, and he […]
ACCOKEEK – For some people, retirement is about settling into a life of leisure. Whether it’s knitting, Canasta or golf, the very purpose is to slow down. For Oscar Peyton, retirement has been about speeding up.
Peyton, 62, holds the national record for the 200-meter sprint in the 60 to 64-year-old age group, and he once set a world record for the 60-meter sprint.
He has won more than 120 gold medals in masters competitions — for runners older than 35— on a national and international level. He also competes in the National Senior Games, for athletes over 50, every two years.
A sprinter, Peyton competes in the 100 and 200 meter events. Though he has won more awards for the 200, he said he may prefer the shorter event.
“The 200 meter is pain,” he said laughing.
Despite the awards and records, Peyton said what he is most proud of is inspiring other people to be fit. He calls himself a “game changer,” someone who encourages an active lifestyle by living one himself.
“If you get off the couch, you may be able to get a friend of yours off the couch,” he said. “So it’s a chain reaction.”
Peyton is not a lifelong runner. He didn’t start until he was 50 years old, when he said his cholesterol was at 200 and he realized he needed to make a change.
He played basketball for many years, but in his 40s it began to bother his knees, so he quit and lapsed into a period of inactivity. Motivated by a family history of heart disease and diabetes, Peyton said that his improved health is the best part of running.
“Success is just icing on the cake,” he said.
Physical health is not the only thing Peyton gets from running. He calls it a kind of therapy that helps his mental wellbeing too.
“When you’re out training, when you’re out competing, any other thing that’s on your mind that might give you a little stress, all those things just go away and you focus on what you’re doing,” he said.
When he began running 12 years ago, Peyton said he found “instant success.” He said that training in the humid Maryland air gives him an extra edge when he competes in Virginia and Pennsylvania.
“Speed is a gift,” he said. “You either have it or you don’t.”
Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Peyton moved to the District to be computer specialist for the federal government for thirty years. He moved to Prince George’s county in 1981. He sometimes trains in the Accokeek East Community Park, but usually runs three or four days a week at Andrews Air Force Base.
For the past two years, he has been training with Don McGee, of Clinton.
He’s the world’s fastest guy for his age,” said McGee, 55. “The workouts are really great because he pushes me and I push him.”
“My time has been coming down every meet since I started training with him.”
McGee will accompany Peyton to the Senior Games in Minnesota in July.