Typically when looking for an airplane book at the airport convenience store. You buy the light and fluffy reads or the Top 40. You’ll find 10 paperback Nicholas Sparks Novels, but what caught my eye on my trip to Fort McMurray was “What Makes Olga Run,” a Canadian novel about Olga Kotelko a 94-year old Canadian Masters track & field athlete. Say what?!? I had to read it!


This book is a look at all the factors that made Olga such a healthy 94 year old. It’s a combination of genetics, mindset, stress (some is good- a lot is bad), nutrition, community and family ties, etc. What fascinated me most was at the beginning when they started with looking at all the genetic factors that contribute to aging. People of European descent have two ACTN3 genes but what kind of gener they are varies. Some people have two endurance ACTN3’s, others have two power ACTN3’s (almost every Olympic sprinter tested has had two of these genes); but most people have one of each. So interesting right? I have always thought I’m a pretty powerful sprinter so I would be so interested to hear which ACTN3’s my body has.



It was an interesting read from cover to cover and at the end, the author Bruce Grierson, summarizes everything read into Olga’s Big 9 Rules.

 The Big Nine:

  1. Keep Moving
  2. Create Routines (But Sometimes Break Them)
  3. Be Opportunistic
  4. Be a mensch
  5. Believe in something
  6. Lighten Up
  7. Cultivate a Sense of Progress
  8. Don’t do it if you don’t love it
  9. Begin now

Olga’s story is AMAZING! She ran the 100 & 200m sprint, throws (even hammer!), the high jump, the long jump- it’s so inspiring! I find myself at 30 years old saying “I’m too old to do ________” and this book basically slaps me across the face and says “No excuses!”

Olga Kotelko, 93, prepares to throw the hammer during a training session at a track in Surrey, B.C., May 2, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Visit the website What Makes Olga Run for more info or to order the book. And wait 60 more years and you’ll hear about Rachel Richards the 90 year old Masters track athlete!


  • Sara July 30, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Nice, I saw a review for what makes Olga run in one of my running magazines a while back and thought I’d love to read that. But then forgot about it, so this is a nice reminder! What an inspiring lady!

    • Betty Livin July 30, 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Yeah it caught my eye and I’m SO GLAD that I found it, it was such a great read!


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