Bill Wuth, 78, is no stranger to competition. The native Idahoan began his sports career playing baseball, if, by playing baseball, you mean sitting on the bench. At practice, he’d pace the dugout, and watch the school’s runners race around the track.
“At least they’re getting some exercise,” he would say to himself. And, so it began − a lifelong career in competitive track and field events.
His first loves in that area included the long jump, high jump and hurdles. And, while Wuth describes himself as a “reasonably good” high school athlete, it wasn’t until midlife that the serious training began, and the medals started pouring in.
He ran his first marathon, in San Diego, at age 42. Years later, he ran the Pike’s Peak Marathon in Colorado — 13 miles up a 14,000-foot incline, and 13 miles down. In 2006, he was the only over-65-year-old ever to compete in the Double Decathlon, a rigorous track and field competition consisting of 20 events in two days. Wuth not only survived, but came away winning one of the covetous medals, and setting several world records in the process (15.54 seconds in the 100-meter dash and 4.32 meters in the long jump).
“So, he decided to do the whole thing again when he turned 70,” said Wuth’s wife, Cathy.
Bill and Cathy Wuth have called Cherokee County home for the past 14 years. The two will celebrate 58 years of marriage in June. They met at a Christian camp in Idaho, when she was just 15, and he a boy of only 16. The rest, as they say, is history.
Their lifelong love has carried them across the globe as missionaries for the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. Today, Bill still teaches and leads — both as an instructor for Timothy Ministries, and as a Sunday school teacher for college-age men at First Baptist Canton. He also participates in a modern form of missionary work called online evangelism. Wuth answers hard questions people have about the Bible, God, heaven, and life here on earth.
Bill describes Cathy, also a leader in their church, as his “number one fan.” The feeling is mutual. During Cathy’s two bouts with breast cancer, Bill became her biggest supporter, forgoing competitions, and instead choosing to run the “good race” — being the best husband and caretaker he could possibly be. (Today, Cathy is healthy and strong.)
His advice for anyone who wants to compete? (These lessons apply to both sports and life!)
- Get out there and do it!
- Work 10% harder than everybody else and you can achieve almost any goal you set. You will instantly jump into the top 20% of high achievers.
- Be aware. Are there rules you’re not following? Are there changes you need to make?
- Be intentional. This is true for both life and sports.
- Listen to your body. How is it responding? It will tell you what you need to do.
Wuth is certainly proud of all his accomplishments in track and field, but, more than winning any sports competition, he is proud of how he loves his wife and God. He’ll never stop learning, and he’ll never stop teaching, because he wants to encourage a new generation of young people to be challenged and motivated. Today, his prayer is “Lord, don’t let me say or do anything that would bring dishonor to you.”
He turns 80 in 2020, which bumps Wuth up to a new age category for competitions. The next big event is the World Championships in Alberta, Canada, in April 2021. Training is simple, requiring no expensive equipment or complicated gear. He simply marks out a course and times himself running various races. During the high school track season, he’ll practice after hours at the school’s track.
Wuth approaches everything he does with enthusiasm and humor. His goal is to place in the top 10 at the World Championships, but insists he’s most looking forward to meeting people from all nations. Good luck, Bill!
By Chantel Adams, contributing writer