Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 10 February 2012 00:00
Massapequa is the Village of Champions. This includes stellar performances by its local high school squads on a yearly basis.
But there are individual champions, too. And none stand out more than Ruth Maller, the 84 year-old long distance runner who continues to dominate the Long Island running scene.
Ruth’s next two big races include the Aspire Invitational to be held April 1 in the Hicksville area. There, Ruth will compete – and most certainly win in her age division – in a 10K, 6.2 mile run. A month later, on May 6, comes the big race of the year. Ruth will compete in the annual Long Island Marathon, which will begin at Eisenhower Park. At that race, Ruth will be running a half marathon, “only” 13 miles in length, but race fans can count on another champion performance.Above all, Ruth is a lady on the move. In fact, that, even more than abstinence in smoking or drinking, is the key to a long, healthy life, she notes. But being on the move has always been part of her life. A native of Brooklyn and a former resident of Jamaica, Queens, Ruth has lived in Massapequa for the past 57 years. A graduate of New York University, Ruth started running in the 1970s, following the illness of her husband, a local physician.
“In the seventies, people said that running would improve your emotional condition,” Ruth recalled. And so she started. “At first, I couldn’t get around the block,” she continued. But within two weeks, she was already running a mile, a total that, in time, would extend all the way to the ultimate prize for any long distance runner: participation in The Long Island Marathon, which she would run in both 1994 and 1998.
Ruth estimates that she totals 10 miles a day either walking or running or just moving around the house. And she remains busy, off or on the running track. In addition to running, Ruth is a certified psychotherapist. After her husband died, Ruth went back to college, graduating with a M.A. in Social Work from Adelphi University. She keeps an office at her residence in Massapequa Park and over the years, has treated three generations of Massapequans.
“I don’t sell diamonds,” she said. “I help people enjoy a better quality of life and expect to do that as long as I’m living.”
Ruth also likes to exercise her mind. She is a top bridge player, recognized as a Senior Life Master. On the running track, Ruth is especially proud of her association with the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC), which, she said, has made it easier for qualified runners in compete in marathons and half marathons. Last December, at its general meeting, the GLIRC held its annual Awards Night. The GLIRC honored Ruth with a Championship Plaque for her continued domination of the 80-84 age group. “Ruth is an incredible human being who is an inspiration to all of us,” said GLIRC President Mike Polansky at the event.
Once Ruth turns 85, she will be moved into the 85 and older bracket. But she will easily dominate that age group as well, as Massapequa’s greatest athlete continues her run to glory.