Janice O’Grady Headshot

Great success did not come early for Conifer runner Janice O’Grady. But when it arrived, it was ultra incredible!

Janice didn’t begin running until she was 34 years old. She has been a runner now for over 41 years. Yes, Janice still runs. And why would she stop? She loves to run, of course. And she’s literally breaking world records as she does it. She now has five world records to her name.

“You learn that your own limits are far beyond what you ever imagined.”

Janice is an ultrarunner. That means she runs a lot and she runs often and she runs incredibly long distances over long periods of time. In fact, to be sure, in her age group she runs long distances further and faster than any other woman on the planet.

Ulltrarunning events, called ultramarathons, cover either a specified distance or a predetermined time period, with the winner covering the most distance in the specified time. Janice competes in both types of events.

Ultramarathons, called “ultras” for short, are races that are longer than the popularly understood 26.2-mile marathon. Ultras include the 50-mile, the 100-kilometer (62 miles), and the 100-mile, as well as 12 hours and 24 hours.

Janice is the newly “crowned” world record holder for women in the 75-79 age group for all of those ultra categories. All of them! I refer again to her accomplishments as being “ultra incredible!”

How does Janice mentally prepare and train and condition herself for ultras and what does she take away from her successes? She says, “You learn that your own limits are far beyond what you ever imagined. You have the satisfaction of doing things you never thought you could do.”

Janice O’Grady Running

A couple of years ago, Janice realized that a few world records might be in sight for her when she would reach the 75-79 age group. She kept running. She turned 75 last October and she set her eyes on the Tunnel Hill 50, a well-known ultra event held annually in Vienna, Illinois in November. She ran the 50-mile race in 12 hours and 3 minutes, setting her first world record.

Janice describes herself as a “one speed runner.” She says she’s never been “fast,” generally finishing in mid-pack in her 40s and 50s. Her strategies can include walking up hills and running down them. “I’m not known for speed. ‘Patience and Persistence’ is my motto.” She says she has slowed some as she has gotten older, but she can still maintain her steady pace for long periods of time.

After Tunnel Hill, Janice took aim at “Across the Years,” a fixed time and fixed distance ultrarunning festival event in Glendale, Arizona, held annually over the New Year’s weekend. Before the six-day event was over, Janice had broken four more world records for her scrapbook: the 12-hour, 24-hour, 100-kilometer, and, what Janice considers her biggest accomplishment, the 100-mile, which she broke by over an hour. She amazed and astounded herself as well as her many fans!

Her number one fan is her husband Tom O’Connell, who has also served as her statistician, cheerleader, electrolyte carrier and informal coach over her entire running career. Tom is a former ultrarunner himself who only stepped away from the sport when a bad hip said “no more!”

Janice and Tom have lived in Conifer for nearly 20 years after their respective retirements. Janice is a retired attorney and Tom was in industrial sales management. They greatly enjoy the beauty of the area and they give back to the community through their involvement in local organizations such as StageDoor Theatre, Beaver Ranch, Evergreen Chorale and by volunteering at various events.

They also both enjoy their beer and love visiting pubs around the world as well as along the 285 Corridor. And if you think you can out-race Janice to the last available barstool at the Snowpack Taproom, “Good Luck!” to you.