Man on a mission: Astronaut, 64, still hits weekly hockey league

At 64 Mario Runco has been to outer space three times but here on Earth he enjoys hitting the ice and playing hockey in Houston's 40 Elite Hockey League.

HOUSTON - Some people find their fountain of youth in interesting places.

At 64, Mario Runco is still playing hockey in Houston's 40 Elite Hockey League, a recreational league at Bellerive Ice Center for players 40-years-old and up.

He is the oldest player in the league.

Runco is slower, but smarter, more sore, though he scores (goals) less. Still, at an age when just climbing over the boards is impressive, he continues to earn respect from his younger teammates.

He does more than just play, too. After three periods of starting, stopping and shooting, Runco typically referees another league game after his own.

His most famous uniform, however, is that of an astronaut. Runco has been to space three times.

Now he's on another mission: one the rest of us can relate to.

"I'm thinking -- I'm hoping -- to play until I'm 81," said Runco, who started playing when he was 11 years old, growing up in New York City.

That mission? Do what you love and do it for as long as you can.


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