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Even at age 90, Becky Yencharis works out six days a week and competes in several 5K races each year. “If I don’t exercise, I don’t feel good at all,” she says. Photograph by photosbyrenee.smugmug.comThe name Becky Yencharis

The place Wilmington

The story Anyone who suffers a case of exercise procrastination ought to meet Becky Yencharis. Having turned 90 July 20, she’s still working out six days a week.

“Some days I don’t feel like it, but I just push myself,” Yencharis says. “What would happen if we just gave up?”

Known in the Wilmington running community for her participation in 5K races, her signature red pigtails and a winning streak in her age category, Yencharis has always loved exercising, running especially. She began racing in her 60s, at the St. Anthony’s Festival 5K in June 1982, and she’s missed it only once since then. She went on to run marathons well into her 80s.

Obviously, she’s never let age hold her back. “To tell you the truth, age is just a number,” she says. “It all depends on the person’s body and mind.”

Today Yencharis mixes it up. Her weekly fitness routine includes a daily visit to the Brandywine or Central YMCA, where she does some combination of aerobics classes, swimming, power yoga, weight lifting, biking or rowing. She’ll often cool down with a short run outdoors.

Exercise is both a physical and a mental tonic. “If I don’t exercise, I don’t feel good at all,” she says. Running also provides time for contemplation. “When I start out running, that’s when I get all my answers.”

She still does a handful of 5Ks each year. In addition to and despite the competition, she enjoys the camaraderie. “I look forward to the race. While you’re running, it’s all different ages. When you’re finished, one doesn’t think they’re better than the others,” she says.

After surviving two serious car accidents, Yencharis is not without her aches and pains. She listens to her body and takes it slow when needed, but always perseveres. “I’m not going to get up and complain,” she says. “You have to keep going.”
 

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