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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 17, 2002

Hawai'i runner sets world records for 100-year-olds

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

Yesterday was a memorable day at the track for Erwin Jaskulski.

Erwin Jaskulski, 100, set a world record for his age by finishing the 100-meter dash in 36.49 seconds yesterday at the Kaiser High School track.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

"He was warming up and he tripped over the blocks," said pal Gil Janklowicz, 48.

"He has 10 stitches in his arm and I think he cracked a rib — we don't know because he refused to let the doctors X-ray him. He hurt both his knees and tore a piece of his finger off."

Despite it all, Jaskulski set world records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes — and "in pouring rain," his friend said.

Jaskulski holds three world records in the category for ages 95 to 99 — but he can't compete in that bracket anymore. He's too old.

But yesterday, at the Kaiser High School track, 100-year-old Jaskulski began making his mark in the centenarian sector. He knocked more than six full seconds off the previous 100-meter world record for a man his age — 43 seconds flat.

Jaskulski did it in 36.49 seconds. Then, he set a second world record by running the 200-meter in 2 minutes and 7.85 seconds.

He could have taken twice that long and still set the record, according to Mark Zeug, president of the Hawai'i Senior Olympics, because "no 100-year-old person has ever even run a 200-meter dash in competition."

Zeug said Jaskulski, a retired accountant who came to Hawai'i in 1958, was planning on running a 400-meter race as well. But after he tripped over the starting blocks, he decided to settle for the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Jaskulski likes to run, but he'd just rather not talk about it.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

"I said, 'Erwin, you need to take care of your health, and I know that you're tired because I could see it in the 200-meter dash,' " said Zeug. " 'But I just want you to know: Even if you just walk about the track in the 400, you've set a world's record.'

"And he said, 'No, I don't need that. I've got enough.' "

Still, Jaskulski wouldn't let anyone take him anywhere before he had collected his gold medals. Only then did he agree to go the hospital, where he refused X-rays but did allow docs to sew up his arm and clean and bandage his knees and finger.

Then he went home, where he lives alone; where he trains in the hallway corridor, which by coincidence is almost exactly 50 meters long; and where he refuses to grant interviews because that's just the way he is.

"I've had calls from Jay Leno and David Letterman to fly him out and have him on their shows," said his friend Janklowicz. "And he says, nah, he's not interested."

What Jaskulski is more interested in is beating his own records. His time yesterday was off, he told Zeug. There was that tripping business and the wind and the rain. All that slowed him down, he said. Under normal conditions, he's confident he can top his own 100-meter record by at least six seconds.

Zeug will give him the chance to break his own records — and more.

"If he's fit as a fiddle and there's a meet coming up in a couple of weeks, I can guarantee you he's going to be game to go the 400 meters."