In July of 2009, Frank Levine established a world track record in the 5,000 meter race at the USA National Track & Field Championships held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He was 95 years old. Five years earlier, at age 90, he set a world record for the 3,000 meters in Landover, MD. Both records still stand.
Levine also set a world record in the 400 meter distance when he was 90, but that mark was recently broken. He won the 800 and 1500 meters at the 2005 Senior Games in Pittsburgh and two months later, traveled to Hawaii and won the USA National Masters Track and Field Championship in three events. He was named the “Male Athlete of the Year” in 1991 by the USA Track & Field Division for athletes over forty. In 1995, he received the All American Masters Track and Field Honor of the Year Award. In 2005, USA Track & Field named Levine its Athlete of the Year.
Levine didn’t start running until he was 65 when he ran his first marathon. With his wife in a nursing home, a friend suggested running together, then training for a marathon. Subsequently, over a thirteen year span, he completed 18 marathons. In masters competitions, athletes are grouped in five-year brackets. Levine has graduated into the 95-99 age class which he views as an advantage since he is now “the kid” in that division.
Levine’s competitive fire was forged on the streets of NY’s lower east side where growing up he learned to settle disputes with his fists. In those days, boxing was the most popular sport in the country. In 1935 in a match at the old Madison Square Garden, Levine won the New York City Golden Gloves in the flyweight division. During World War II, as a member of the U.S. Navy boxing team the fighting featherweight defeated Dick Miyagawa, a National AAU boxing champion.
However, Levine’s athletic legacy is not limited to merely two sports. At the age of 12, he entered a New York city-wide checkers tournament and won the championship. On active duty in the Navy, he began playing handball and in 1943, while stationed in Iowa, won the class B state championship.
Today, Levine is religious about his workouts. He runs two to three miles on alternate days. On the other days, he works out at a neighborhood fitness center where his favorite activity is hitting a heavy boxing bag.
A retired attorney and CPA with nine great-grandchildren, he lives in suburban Philadelphia and frequently takes the stairs, instead of the elevator, to his apartment on the seventh floor. The ultra-competitive Mr. Levine is aiming for one more goal in his remarkable journey through life … the 96-year old hopes to achieve the distinction of being the oldest person in the world.