He started running in his late 30s, following the sudden death of his first wife from a brain hemorrhage.
Over the years Mike Fremont has become a familiar face to nearly everyone he passes while jogging along his favorite routes near his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. "They're all accustomed to me," the 100-year-old told PEOPLE. "They say, 'I've seen you here for 40 years!'" Although today he is something of a running celebrity—both in Cincinnati and otherwise—Fremont only got into the sport later in his long life. The multiple single-age world running record holder started running in his late 30s, following the sudden death of his first wife from a brain hemorrhage, leaving him widowed with three kids, including a 2-week-old.
"I was very stressed when my wife left me, and I needed to do something every day to take the stress off. So usually I'd take one of my little kids, and she would hold my little finger and we'd run," he shared. "I enjoyed it and I thought it was good for me. It was much better than the two martinis I used to have." Although running soon became a vital part of his life, Fremont didn't start competitively racing until after 1992, when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and informed that he only had three months left to live.
"It was a terrible, terrible thing to tell me," he recalled. Fortunately, Fremont lived beyond the predicted three months. When physicians removed the cancerous tumor two and a half years later, they were shocked to find there was no spread of the disease. "The surgeon said that he had looked for metastasis in 35 places and found none. Zero," Fremont shared. Thrilled to have received a new lease on life, Fremont started signing up for everything from 10Ks to marathons. "I found that I wasn't too bad at running. I didn't weigh too much, and I was small. It helped," he said, adding that he benefited from a macrobiotic, vegan diet. "Then I began to win some races, and the pressure was on."
“The nice thing about running at my age... there's very little competition!”— Maggie Vespa (@Maggie_Vespa) October 6, 2022
-100 y-o runner, canoe racer & world record holder Mike Fremont. With 60 marathons under his feet, Fremont still logs 5-10 miles 3x a week.
His story, produced by @halleluk, on @NBCNightlyNews… pic.twitter.com/1qfZUQL6dZ
According to his wife of 29 years, Marilyn Wall, "that's when he started to make records for his age." Today, Fremont holds an incredible five titles: world records for the fastest marathon time at age 80 and again at age 90; the fastest half-marathon time at age 90 and 91; and the U.S. record for the fastest mile by a 96-year-old. "I took 53 seconds off the one-mile race record," the centenarian boasted. "I was very pleased." These days, Fremont has no plans to take down other world records. "I think I'm sensible enough not to try to run marathons at 100," he said. "Why should I have anything to prove?"
Instead, he is happy spending his days with Wall, his children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. "I'm having the best time of my life," Fremont said. Sharing some words of advice for those daunted by running or training for a marathon, Fremont recommended simply giving it a try and getting moving. "Come with me. I'll walk with you. I'll run with you. Whatever you want to do," he said.