Corona del Mar residents Jean and Jim Coon, both 90, will attempt to set a record this weekend as the oldest couple to finish the city’s 32nd annual 5K.
More than 2,000 runners are expected to participate in Saturday’s Corona del Mar Scenic 5K but the couple, who have collectively participated in more than 50 5Ks since their early 70s, including almost every Corona del Mar Scenic 5K since 1996, aren’t worried.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the 5K was on Sunday. It’s on Saturday.
“We’ve participated in every single one, except for a couple lazy years,” Jim said. “Those years we just didn’t feel like it.”
The couple recently switched to a plant-based diet, hit the gym three times a week and walk every day.
“Age is not something I’m concerned with,” Jean said. “It’s just a number.”
Jean has placed first and second several times in her age division in both the Corona del Mar Scenic 5K and the Surf City 5K with times ranging from 44:35 to 45:08 between 2004 and 2007. She finished last year’s Scenic 5K in 45:23.
Eva Parsons, also of Corona del Mar, who raced the Scenic 5K throughout her 90s, inspired Coon to take on the challenge.
Jean said she usually combines running and walking, but this year she will focus on walking at a steadier pace in hopes of improving her times.
The couple first met in 1934 when they were in the sixth grade at Alameda Elementary School in Portland, Ore.
“Jim would come over after Boy Scouts and blow his bugle outside my house,” Jean said. “Of course, back then it wasn’t proper for me to go out.”
The couple reconnected when they were in college at Oregon State when Jim finally mustered enough courage to send Jean a letter he had been carrying in his pocket for months.
“We really spent a lot of time before we got married, talking and arguing,” Jean said. “Sometimes young people today get swept away.”
Jim was called off to war and served in the Merchant Marine in World War II, so the couple waited to get married.
They married a year before the war ended and have been together for 68 years.
The secret to their marriage is two-fold: never going to bed angry and keeping an active lifestyle, Jim said.
“You have to keep moving,” he said. “The alternative is not good. When God decides it’s time for us to move on, that’s what we’ll do. Until then, we’ll keep moving.”
Walk-in registration for the 32nd annual Corona del Mar Scenic 5K will be available from noon to 7 p.m. Friday at the Oasis Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Ave.
Registration is $38 for the 5K, $28 for the 2-mile walk and $15 to $28 for youth events. Fees increase $5 each on the day of the race.
For more information, visit https://www.cdmchamber.com.
By The Numbers
1934: Jean and Jim meet in the sixth grade at Alameda Elementary School in Portland, Ore.
68: Years Jim and Jean have been married
90: Jim and Jean’s age
3 cents: Cost of postage stamp for letter Jim finally mailed asking Jean to go on a date after months of carrying it in his pocket
25: Number of people in Jim and Jean’s immediate family, which includes six children, 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
3: Days per week Jim and Jean spend at the gym.
45: Approximate minutes Jean finishes a 5k in the last 10 years.