The fastest senior citizen in the borough is fresh off two more gold medal victories, but there’s one unstoppable force that he can’t beat: aging.
Edward Baker, a 73-year-old Fort Greene resident, won the 100-meter and 200-meter races for men aged 70 to 74 in the Empire State Senior Games last month, but even his greatest fans couldn’t help but notice that the numbers on the stopwatch are getting higher.
Has Brooklyn’s Iron Man started to rust? Baker denies that it’s time for the Lou Gehrig speech, no matter how lucky he considers himself (himself).
“I’ll be competing for the next 10 years,” Baker, a chiseled grandfather, said confidently. “My times [at the Empire State Senior Games] could have been better, but I’m still the best runner in New York City for my age group.”
It seems that not even the Grim Reaper could take that away from Baker. This year, the swift senior ran the 100-meter dash in 15.7 seconds and the 200-meter dash in 34 seconds.
Yes, his times were a half-second slower than last year, but no one else even came close.
And Baker had a perfectly good excuse for his slower time in the 100: he wasn’t shuffling off his mortal coil, he merely slipped.
“There was a false start and that threw my rhythm off,” Baker explained. “Then I was slower on the second start.”
Baker said he plans to keep his time for the 100-meter dash at less than 16 seconds for the next couple of years, but the odds are against him. He has only one year left to race in his current age bracket — and statistics show that runners in the 75 and older group generally finish the 100 in around 17 seconds.
Then again, statistics don’t know Ed Baker.
The dean of the Brooklyn Tech HS track hasn’t been injured for the past three years, since pulling a hammy in 2007. Even then, this Achilles was back on the track in three months.
“My training regiment focuses on the whole body, so there’s not as much wear-and-tear,” Baker said. “I go to the pool, track and gym every week.”
Despite his lengthening times this year, Empire State Senior Games officials are in awe of Baker’s physical abilities. After all, his time for the 100-meter dash is only about six seconds slower than the world record — set by a guy who’s less than half of Baker’s age.
“Baker’s a super runner,” said the Games’ director, John Doherty. “He’s always in tip-top shape.”
Baker’s next competition is in Florida, where he’ll put his goal of consistency to the test. When asked if he’s afraid of failing, Baker answered as if he couldn’t even comprehend the idea. “No, I just train and race as much as I can,” he responded.
You could set your watch by this guy.