Discoveries

The Runner: Bobbie Poledouris

Her Race Against Time

Bobbie Poledouris

Photo by Austin Hargrave

Bobbie Poledouris is always eager for the next leg in life's marathon. At 70, she just needs a good pair of running shoes — preferably neon pink.

For the past decade, medication has enabled this youthful grandmother to stay nearly symptom-free from Parkinson's. Refusing to let the disease slow her down, she runs faster and farther than she did before her diagnosis.

Poledouris was 59 when she noticed the first signs of Parkinson's. She'd watched her father suffer from the disease, so her initial reaction was fear, but her vigorous nature prevailed. "I decided the disease was not going to become my identity," she says.

One day in 2013, while walking along the beach with her dog, Lucy, Poledouris felt an impulse to pick up her pace. She went with it, running a short distance with the terrier at her heels. Soon she was leaving Lucy at home so she could go farther — 1 mile, then 2, then 3. Now she does 3-mile runs several times a week and says she has never exercised with so much drive.

It's not easy. "There's always a point in a run where I say to myself, ‘You can stop. You don't have to do this,'" she says. "But then another voice says, ‘Yes, you do.'"



Running awakened her competitive spirit. Poledouris has participated in more than two-dozen 5K races and taken home many first-place trophies for her age group. After each race, she studies a printout of results, seeing that she not only is improving her time but also beating runners as young as 18 — despite her illness.

Her determination and high level of fitness impress her neurologist, Michele Tagliati, MD. An avid runner himself, Tagliati joined her in a Santa Monica/Venice 5K last December. "His support over the past few years has definitely helped me stick with running," Poledouris says.

So far, her very active retirement years are unfolding just as she hoped. "Parkinson's gave me a gift. It gave me running, and made me more determined," she says. "Maybe I can outrun this disease."

Read on to see how these men and women are redefining what it means to live with Parkinson’s by practicing and excelling at the sports they love.