Oswald Fischbacher is likely to be the oldest runner in the Wolfratshauser Stadtlauf on Sunday, July 2nd. “Ossi”, as his friends from TSV Wolfratshausen call him, is 83 years old and can look back on a remarkable running career. According to his own records, he ran 110,000 kilometers in his life and took part in more than 500 competitions. On Sunday, the native Austrian completes the five-kilometer lap in honor of his sports comrade Anderl Huber, who died in March.
SZ: Herr Fischbacher, other people your age are happy when they can sit without pain. What’s your secret?
Ossi Fischbacher: There is no secret there. I’ve been moving my whole life, even as a kid. Skiing, hiking, climbing, that has always been part of it for me. But I didn’t start running until I was 40.
So late why?
I was a bricklayer and had a serious accident at work at the age of 35 – with a broken vertebra and a broken kneecap. Four years later I met a colleague at a spa who said: Start running, that’ll do you some good! I said: How am I supposed to run if I can’t walk 500 meters? And he said: Try it, it’s the best therapy! The next morning he took me to training.
And did that work?
In the beginning I rather walked. But after the four weeks of treatment I was able to jog two kilometers. I continued at home, not much, but steadily, and after two years I took part in the first fun runs. My times were bad, of course, but I got through it. That motivated me. After seven years I did my first marathon. I had dreamed of this for a long time. I walked myself healthy.
How did you come to TSV?
Huber Anderl took me there. He persuaded me and also showed me how to train – speed, endurance. After two years at TSV I became Austrian champion over 10,000 meters in the seniors. Then the competitions really got going, I took part in the European Championships twice. I’ve also done extreme things with Anderl: 80-kilometer runs, 100-kilometer runs, 24-hour runs, plus ten or twelve mountain runs a year. The worst was the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland: 42 kilometers and over 2000 meters in altitude. I did it three times, most recently when I was 63.
On Sunday you set yourself five kilometers. How long do you think it will take you?
Oh, long! When Anderl died in March, it occurred to me that I would run for him in the summer. And then I started practicing. Now I can do the five kilometers. And takes about 55 minutes – I used to walk that under 19. But I’m running and I make sure that I lift my legs nicely so that it doesn’t look sloppy. My running style has always been good.
Do you envy the young runners who will pass you on Sunday?
Well, then I think: I was that good at one point. But you have to accept that it’s no longer the case. That took me a while. What’s nice: On Sunday, Alfred Barth from TSV will send me two top runners to accompany me, because I’m not the youngest anymore. Klaus Mannweiler and Jürgen Habel will run with me, then I won’t be alone, that’s great.
When did you realize that you couldn’t do what you wanted anymore?
At 65, my knee joints couldn’t keep up. For a long time I didn’t know where my limits were, I ran 30 marathons. At 57, I was still doing the 24-hour runs because I wanted to see how far I could go. After that I knew it: 24 hours, more is not possible.
When you lace up your running shoes today, what is more important: the anticipation or the fight against your weaker self?
The anticipation! I don’t have to overcome myself. I’ve just come out of the football stadium and have run three kilometers. I love doing that! Jogging is good for me. That’s where I get my energy and strength. I am perfectly healthy, organically everything fits. Two years ago I got an artificial knee, which also fits perfectly. I’m doing well!
Info below www.stadtlauf.net