“Walker” helps Osterling to keep running, take home medals


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Roberta Osterling, 83, crosses the finish line during the Eat My Crust 5K with the help of a walker.

VIERA VOICE Jill Blue Gaines

Her racing bib number, —83— reveals her age but that has not slowed down Roberta Osterling. The Satellite beach woman has been participating in races since she first took up the sport in March 2005 at age 70. Race trophies fill a room in her Satellite Beach home, collecting medals and trophies from each run.

“I used to go to the Calvary Chapel on Minton Road and they sponsored a race (to raise funds) for tsunami (victims),” said Osterling who decided to participate. “Two bachelor friends of mine in their 40s didn’t place, but I got a first-place trophy and walked.”

So, the racing and walking began for Osterling.

“Every time you go to a race you get a plastic bag filled with more running locations, and I just started filling them out and going to the races. You meet some really nice people.” Now, with the aid of her walker, Osterling can continue her racing.

Osterling didn’t need a walker when she first started participating.

“In the last seven or eight months, I have used the walker. I fell in August 2017 in a race — the first race of the season for the Space Coast Runners. I used to run in a race every weekend, but since my fall I have cut way back. I have some medical problems, so I need to take it easy. I will probably do the one-mile and two-mile races. The 3K and 5K races are more than I want to do anymore.”

The running walker says she only supports the races in which the raised funds benefit and stay in Brevard County.

“Sunday (May 6) we gave $20,000 to the sports programs at Viera High School. At the same race we raised funds for Special Olympics and another organization — three places the money went.”

Osterling is a member of the Space Coast Runners Club. She also runs for a team supported by the Running Zone.

“The Running Zone asked me if I wanted to join the team. I hesitated, but I did. I don’t run — I walk. It took me an hour and 30 minutes this last race. I used to be able to do it in one hour or less, but that was 13 years ago. I am older and those three years over 80 make a difference.”

The running walker competes in a series with the Running Zone where she racks up points for every race successfully completed. Points are awarded by age groups. Those who participate in all the Running Zone races of the season earn a special medal at the end of the season.

“I will race as long as I am physically able,” Osterling said. “I don’t care if I am the last person in the chute, as long as I finish. I need to satisfy myself that I am still capable.”