80-year-old “Slammin’ Sammy” to run in this year’s Pear Blossom Race

Jacksonville, Ore. — It’s been a Rogue Valley tradition for decades. This weekend, thousands of people will gather in downtown Medford for the annual Pear Blossom Run.

NBC5 News caught up with one runner who is looking to make his way to first place.

“Running for me comes easy,” said Sammy Vandenburg. He has been running since he was in junior high school.  “That would of been 1947,” he laughed.

Sammy just turned 80 last month, but he isn’t letting his age stop him from getting on the trail.

While his legs don’t take him as far as they used to, he says, “Every second counts.”

Sammy said he still runs 25 to 30 miles a week. “For my age–not bad baby, not bad.”

Every Sunday you can catch him running with the Southern Oregon Runners.

Sammy said running with them has kept him in shape for the big event this weekend. “This Saturday morning I’m going for my 7th win in a row.”

Sammy has raced in the Pear Blossom Run the past six years and has won his age group in every one of them. He added, “Slammin’ Sammy–another first place.”

He even holds a pear blossom course record, running a 27-minute 5k at 78-years-old.

This year he’s looking to keep the streak going.

If you’re wondering if Sammy plans on slowing down, he said, “I think they have a 100-104 age group. So that’s what I’m headed for–there you go.”

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