80-year-old Mathews resident finds joy in running

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Mar 14, 2012 - 04:39 PM

Photo: Dimitrios Soulios of Gwynn runs a 10K every day unless it rains. The octogenarian will be competing in the Ukrops 10K in Richmond this month. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

Dimitrios Soulios of Gwynn runs a 10K every day unless it rains. The octogenarian will be competing in the Ukrops 10K in Richmond this month. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

Photo: Dimitrios Soulios at the age of 16 walking down the streets of Agrinio, a city in his native Greece.

Dimitrios Soulios at the age of 16 walking down the streets of Agrinio, a city in his native Greece.

Dimitrios Soulios runs a 10K every day unless it rains. Summer and winter, in the heat and the cold, he runs. When his mornings are slow and his knees hurt and it’s not easy to think about getting out and exercising, he runs.

The 80-year-old Gwynn’s Island resident, nicknamed Jimmy, said he knows that by the time he’s three miles into his run and the oxygen is flowing through his body, he’ll feel as though his feet aren’t touching the ground.

"You feel at peace," he said. "You feel good; you feel happy."

A three-time medal winner in the 75-and-older category at the annual Ukrops 10K, Soulios will return to Richmond on March 31 to compete for the ninth time in the race that raises funds for VCU’s Massey Cancer Center.

Running has always had a peaceful and euphoric effect on Soulios. As a teenager in post-World War II Greece, it was Soulios’s task to run the 20 miles from Agrinio, the city to which his family had fled when civil war erupted, to a small village where relatives waited for news of the arrival of sorely-needed American supplies.