Charles Allie had done all the right things. He was eating well, training consistently and in great physical shape – world class shape. At the age of 69, Allie was ranked number one in the world 200-meter dash among men aged 65-69. For years he held dozens of age group and world records. Then in December of 2021 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After getting educated on the best treatment options for his case, he wondered if he’d still be able to run.
“They (doctors) said, ‘If you do the radiation, you might be able to still train and compete.’ ‘Okay, let’s go through radiation,’” Allie said. “There were some side effects, which put me on the back burner. I gained some weight (from hormone therapy) and I lost some muscle mass. I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to to just sit back and not return. I want to come back and be a part of it, win lose or draw.'”
Allie took some time off from treatments, but he kept on training, determined to stay on the track, even if his times were far from record-setting. There was a toll on his body and his performance, but that didn’t keep Allie away. He returned to the track in 2022, competing in 14 races, and was open with both the media and his fellow competitors about his journey.
“A lot of athletes around me, we spoke and they said, ‘Yeah, this is what I went through,’ and so forth. I learned a lot from that,” Allie shared. “I wasn’t set back too much or disappointed too much when I didn’t medal or didn’t win because I know I’m out there. They expect Charles Allie to be the winner…I looked beyond that. I’m just glad I was on the track, and I was welcomed back.”
Welcomed back, Allie also battled back, returning to world-class form. Two years after his diagnosis, in March of 2023 he earned a gold medal at the World Championships in the 60-meter dash for men 75-79, with a time of 8.79 seconds. The Pittsburgh native is excited for what the 2023 outdoor season will bring, including competing in front of family and friends in the National Senior Games. His physical challenges have made him even more grateful for the sport he’s enjoyed his whole life, and motivated to continue to do all he can to remain healthy.
“I think at a certain point, especially when you retire, you have to do more than just sit back and enjoy your grandkids,” Allie said. “You still have to get out there and do something for your body. Because at that age, there’s certain things that are going kick in. I know cancer is a deadly disease and you just don’t know if it is going to come about, and when.
“Win, lose, or draw. I just want to be out there and just continue on as best as I can, because it’s about longevity now. I have grandkids and I want to be there for them at this point in my life.”
This article is featured in the Summer 2023 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.