To get a glimpse into how passionate Richard and Kitt Williams are about running, all you have to do is tour their Coronado garage. Hanging from two rows of 150 hooks are more than 1,000 medals. Three or four medals dangle from each hook.
Garage shelves display hundreds of trophies and plaques. Richard Williams’ personalized license plate: RUN QK.
Richard and Kitt do indeed run quick. And far. And often. The Williams’ collection of long-distance bling is a testament to their longevity, fitness and love of pounding the pavement. Richard is 86 years young; Kitt is 74, and neither shows signs of slowing down.
The 49th annual Crown City Classic hits the Coronado streets on Saturday, July 2, kicking off the Fourth of July weekend, and the Williams will be among the nearly 2,500 toeing the start line.
Richard worked for nearly 35 years in civil service, plus served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 20 years. He began running in 1977 when he was 41. His motivation: shed some pounds after the Army enacted a weight limit for reservists.
At 6 feet tall, Richard weighed 220 pounds, 12 pounds over the limit. He started working out at the D.C. National Mall. It was not love at first step.
“Oh no,” he said. “My lungs were burning. I’d run two blocks and I’d have to walk another block.”
He replaced lunches with fruit and energy bars. He walked stairs rather than taking the elevator.
The next year he ran the Marine Corps Marathon, crossing the finish line in 3 hours, 37 minutes. He has run 14 marathons, including Boston once and New York City three times. His PR is 3:29.
Richard and Kitt’s last marathons were in 2007 at New York. Both cracked four hours, Richard finishing in 3:57, Kitt running her 3:51 PR.
Kitt started running in 1982. She loved running as a child and decided to pick it up again.
“I went out in sneakers, ran a mile or two, and said, ‘Yeah, I like this,’” she recalled. “I decided it was time to commit to running.”
By early June this year they had run 14 races, including two half marathons. In a typical week they’ll log about 20 miles, running every other day.
Both offered tips for running successfully late in life.
“Persistence and good running shoes,” Richard said. “Good genes and a good diet.”
Said Kitt, “I think an important thing is to expect as much from yourself as possible but not too much. Don’t be discouraged by the fact you’re slowing down. Train consistently.”
How gonzo are they about running?
In early 2021 Richard and Kitt were out on a 9-miler. Kitt sped ahead near the end and on the last mile Richard tripped and fell.
“He hit his head on the ground and was bleeding,” said Crown City Classic race director Jamie Monroe, who was golfing at Coronado Municipal and came to Williams’ aid.
“I’ve got to finish my run,” Williams told Monroe.
Monroe convinced Williams it would be safer to call an ambulance and wait for Kitt to pick him up.
In 2013, Kitt underwent a hip replacement. She raced the day before surgery and six months later ran America’s Finest City Half Marathon.
“They’re awesome,” said Monroe. “In Coronado they’re well known because everyone sees them running.”
As the medal count in the garage indicates, Richard and Kitt care about the time on the clock.
“I want to win my age group, I really do,” Kitt said. “I’m interested in chasing people, trying to beat them. I like challenging myself. When you’re older, I think it’s important to have things to celebrate. We need to look at things and say, ‘Yeah, I did a great job.’”
Both are proud to participate in the Crown City Classic, supporting the race that runs past the home Kitt grew up in during her youth. They love seeing so many dressed in red, white and blue with the huge 2,200-square-foot American flag held up above the start line.
Of the scene, Richard said, “It’s so inspiring.”
Kind of like a couple late-in-life runners.
Race weekend registration is available onsite. For more information and a complete schedule of events, please visit CrownCityRun.com.