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At 75-Years-Young, UPSer and Marathoner ‘Miss Mary’ Exercises for the Health of It
Mary Hansford

Mary Hansford is a walking example of motivation. She has worked at UPS for 15 years, had an entire previous career as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant before retiring and run the New York City Marathon — all by the young age of 75, or going on 76 as she proudly points out.

Miss Mary, who works at UPS’s Worldport global air hub, started her career at UPS as seasonal help in 1996 to earn a few extra dollars. Close to 15 years later, she is still at it, attributing her ability to keep at it to years of healthy living, running marathons and the sheer desire to stay active. She has no plans to retire any time soon. “I’ll know when it’s time to retire, and that time isn’t here yet,” she said.

Miss Mary started her racing career in 1979 when she realized she needed to do something to improve her health and relieve stress. She started walking, and those walks built up to short runs, which built up to “short” 10K races, which built up to running the New York City Marathon in 1985, when she was 50, and completing it in 5 hours, 6 minutes and 7 seconds. “The following year, I ran the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Ala., improving my New York time and finished in 4 hours, 14 minutes and 35 seconds.”

The racing did not stop there, although now she mainly gets her exercise through walking, Pilates, stretching and a twice-a-week spinning workout at home. “As you mature, you need to keep from getting too stiff, so I keep exercising,” she said. “I’ve seen every kind of runner’s injury and have worked through them all. Every day when I come to work, I go through the guard shack and walk to my area, and every day when I leave, I walk out.” The only times Miss Mary does not take the long walk in to work is when it rains.

Miss Mary said after her first race, in which she placed first for her age division, she was hooked. And she was competitive. “Of course I was concerned about my times,” she said. “I wanted to get better and better and faster and faster.” She thinks her competitive nature has helped her keep a healthy outlook when it comes to her work at UPS. “I look at it as a challenge, and I love a challenge. By continuing to work, I feel better, and younger, and working here really is something I enjoy.”

Since Miss Mary no longer runs marathons, she stays involved by volunteering with many of the various races held inLouisvilleand is impressed with UPS’s involvement with many of them. “UPS is great with the community. I’m very proud to work here and say I’m a UPSer.”

She also has done volunteer work with her church, Special Olympics and the Mason-Dixon Games.

Miss Mary thinks that UPS’s emphasis on wellness has been a good move for the company. “I approve of that 100 percent. I think it’s a challenge for some people, but I see a lot of people putting out a lot of effort to stay, or get, healthy. I hope people can see me and think, ‘If she can do it, so can I.’”

If she could pass any words of wisdom on to younger employees, it is to have high self-esteem. “If you’re not proud of yourself, why would you expect others to be proud of you? Finish what you start. Don’t start something unless you’re going to finish it. Believe in yourself and what you can do. We all need to do the best we can with what we have to offer.”

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