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71-year-old Sarasota runner has placed in 300 races

Ellen Jaffe Jones has advice for people looking to enjoy a long life of running.

Ellen Jaffe Jones has competed in Senior Games events, but is just as happy to run local events. To her, getting to run at all is the whole point.
Ellen Jaffe Jones has competed in Senior Games events, but is just as happy to run local events. To her, getting to run at all is the whole point.
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For a moment, Ellen Jaffe Jones stopped and stared. 

She couldn’t stop for much longer than that. She was in the middle of a race, after all — the SUP and Run 5K, held May 4 at Nathan Benderson Park. 

But she felt compelled to stop. 

Jones looked at the park’s lake, and at the clear sky. In that moment, Jones said, she thought about how lucky she was to be where she was, doing what she loves to do. 

Then she continued the race, and finished it. Jones, 71, finished third in her age group (38:43.6) despite switching between running and walking to keep her heart rate below 180 beats per minute, a side effect of a recent thyroid problem she’s been managing. 

Ellen Jaffe Jones, 71, believes anyone can start running at any time — and she's the proof. Jones has placed in 300 races, most recently at the 2024 SUP and Run 5K at Nathan Benderson Park, and does not plan on stopping.
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The race was the 300th that Jones has placed in since 2006, when she started keeping track. Jones keeps the results in a spreadsheet and the medals in her home. Jones has reached out to Guinness to see if the number is a record for a person her age, she said, and is waiting to hear back. 

A record or not, the milestone is one Jones is proud to achieve — and she has no plans to stop now. She’s having as much fun as ever. 

“Being happy with yourself is about feeling good,” Jones said. “Do what you can to wake up with a positive attitude in the morning. Stay alive.” 

Jones began running as a method of staying healthy. Family members have dealt with things like breast cancer, Jones said, and she saw how they struggled. She wanted to live the healthiest lifestyle possible.

Jones is also a proud vegan and has written several books on the subject. She loves nothing more than proving her athletic ability to anyone who believes vegans cannot sustain the athleticism necessary to run like she does, she said. 

Sometimes, Jones has a goal in mind when entering a race. Other times, like at the SUP and Run 5K, she just wants to place. That’s because Jones is nursing a broken rib — an injury suffered not at a running race, but at a swim meet, when she accidently walked into the path of a water hose and fell. She was forced to take “three to four” weeks away from running, she said, which was agonizing.

As impressive as Jones’ feat is, she believes everyone has the ability to begin a running-filled life if they do desire. Here’s a handful of tips from Jones on how to get started, and how to sustain it:



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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