The world’s fastest old man is 71, holds two world records and is aiming for a third


Charles Allie runs at the Schenley Oval Sportsplex in Pittsburgh, May 23, 2019. At 71, he wants the world record in 100 meters to go along with his age group records in the 200 and 400. (Kristian Thacker/The New York Times)

By Matthew Futterman

Charles Allie is 71 years old, and he is fast.

Chances are, he is a much faster runner than you are — faster, in fact, than you ever were. Last year in Spain he broke his own world record in his age group for the 400 meters by more than a second. That is essentially a quarter-mile, one lap around a standard running track. He crossed the tape in 57.26 seconds.

Plenty of people, even when they are at their fastest, never come close to running 400 meters in less than a minute. Allie has been breaking one minute since he was a child. Now, he beats his competitors — the other fastest men in the world who are his age — by 30 or 40 meters.

He set the world record in the 200 meters for the over-70 group last year, too. Still not impressed? At the World Masters Athletics Championships, he dropped down an age division and won two relay gold medals with the 65-year-olds. In that division, he ran faster than just about everyone except his good friend Bill Collins, who was a top American runner in the mid-1970s.

“I’m just addicted to speed,” Allie said at the kitchen table in his Pittsburgh home on a recent morning. He had eaten oatmeal and fruit for breakfast.