Fairmont’s Sagedahl running strong at 81

Sherwood Sagedahl is one of the best 80-84 year old track and field athletes in the nation.
Sherwood Sagedahl is one of the best 80-84 year old track and field athletes in the nation.(KEYC)
Updated: Jun. 5, 2020 at 10:48 PM CDT
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FAIRMONT, Minn. (KEYC) — There’s always time to start running casually or competitively regardless of age. Just ask Fairmont’s Sherwood Sagedahl who’s 81 and breaking track and field records.

“Four percent, some people think these are illegal, give you four percent advantage.”

Meet Sherwood Sagedahl,a track and field star that spends the majority of his time training.

“I put a lot of time in. It’s not just like I show up, so I would say 5-6 days a week. I go to Arizona in the winter so I have an opportunity to run there five or six days a week,” said Sagedahl.

Sagedahl takes part in a number of track and field competitions and road races, and over the years, the athlete has earned countless accolades including being honored as the Minnesota Masters Track and Field Athlete of the Year six times.

He also holds a number of records including the world record for the Outdoor Pentathlon.

But everyone needs a start, and for Sagedahl, that came a couple of decades ago.

“Well, I started at age 60. I started because I was retired in Arizona. Our 2 daughters came down and asked me for going on a run. They ran for four miles, I stayed with them without stopping. They said, ‘you didn’t stop, we’re going to get you in a 5K.’ My first 5K was at St. Thomas. I ran it in 24 minutes something. That got me going because I won a medal, and that was my start,” said Sagedahl.

The standout hopes his story encourages others to give track and field a try.

“It’s fun once you get into it. Have patience. You aren’t going to come off the couch and set records. It takes a while, I’ll give you an idea. The first time I ran 400 meters, I ran it in 1:12. After a few years, I ran it in 1:05. Have patience. Second thing, first of all, see your doctor. Make sure your heart is okay to do it. It puts a strain on the heart, but it’ll make your heart stronger if you’re active. I would say just start out with one or two events and see how it goes. I started out with one event, it was in Pittsburgh, I saw someone carrying a javelin, and I’m an old baseball player, I should try that, had fun, and got into discus. Don’t be afraid to start, it’s fun and you meet some nice people,” said Sagedahl.

“I’m not that good of a golfer, so I’m better at running. You do what you like, what you do best,” Sagedahl added.

Sherwood Sagedahl is one of the best 80 to 84-year-old track and field athletes in the nation.

Last year, Sagedahl held the number one ranking in the world for his age group in the 800 meter, one mile, and 3,000-meter races along with the top ranking for the outdoor pentathlon.

“I had some goals last year, and I reached three of them. The records, I looked at it the other day, I circled them and figured I could do it if I got my act together. Right now, I probably will try to set the record in the pentathlon for an 85-year-old, but that’s four years from now,” said Sagedahl.

A handful of events including the Iowa Senior Games, USA Track and Field Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and the World Masters Association Track and Field meet are canceled for the summer, but Sagedahl plans to continue training to stay in shape for future competitions.

“I always tell my wife it’s going to be a year by year thing right now. At this age, once you get to the 80s, you look at the results in the paper, there aren’t many 80-year-olds that are doing it. When you get to 85, which I have about 4 years to go, it’s less, and 90, hardly anybody is doing it. I’m going to keep doing it as long as I enjoy it and am reasonably competitive,” said Sagedahl.

He's competed at impressive venues all across the nation, but there's one memory in particular that sticks out.

“I think it was 2018, I got a call from the national track and field organization saying Sherwood we want you to run the 200 meters at Albuquerque because we’re going to have an exhibition for men over 75, we want to pick six people, you’re one of the six. I told my wife, they’re going to have me come over there for one event for 33 seconds of running, then I go home. I did, it was the national meet for all the elite runners and jumpers. Here I was, on the track, it’s filled. It was special to run around that. All the events were televised, unfortunately, they blacked us out,” said Sagedahl.

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