FAYETTEVILLE -- Steve Hughes finished a marathon in Jackson, Tenn., early Saturday afternoon and almost immediately hopped in his Ford F-150 pickup truck and embarked on the three-plus hour drive to Little Rock.
The seasoned 67-year-old runner didn't stay long when he arrived home, taking a shower, eating a quick meal and resting for about an hour before hitting the road again and driving to Fayetteville. He arrived at his final destination at around 10:45 p.m. Saturday and before long was asleep in his truck, only a little more than seven hours before his next conquest --the 40th Hogeye Marathon.
The routine has become second nature for Hughes. Sunday was the 372nd marathon he's run since he turned 60. He's the sixth person in the world to run at least 100 races of 26.2 miles or longer in a single year, a feat he accomplished in 2012. He's also one of 11 runners in U.S. history to complete 300 or more races of 26.2 miles or longer after turning 60.
Hughes ran a 5:53:15 on Sunday, about an hour slower than his time Saturday, when he finished second in the 65-to-69 age group in Jackson.
"It's tough," Hughes said. "And it's getting tougher."
But Hughes is still capable of routinely finishing high in his age group, finishing second in Jackson, second in Ardmore, Okla., two weeks ago and even running a 4:24 in 2012. The sheer volume of his running schedule, especially given his age, takes precedence over the results. To put Hughes' dedication into perspective, a runner would need to run a marathon every month for 31 consecutive years to reach the mark he's currently at. But he'll surpass that mark when he runs four marathons the next two weeks.
A former member of the Arkansas track and swim teams in the 1960s, Hughes was physically inactive from ages 31 to 56 because of arthritis. Once medical advancements allowed him to run again, the former lawyer attacked training with full force, even convincing his wife, Donna, to train for and race in a marathon at one point.
In 2015, he was inducted into the Marathon Maniacs Hall of Fame. He's run marathons in all 50 states, with the stop in Anchorage, Alaska, standing out as his favorite.
"We had a mama moose and her calf cross the path both times," Hughes said. "The mooses will attack, so we detoured."
All the trips around the country have allowed him to make new friends over the years, such as Shelly Mack, 49, from Perry, Okla. Mack has run more than 100 marathons. The two met at a race two or three years ago and became fast friends.
"These people do inspire me," Mack said. "They're the ones that keep me going when I see them out there."
Hughes' big remaining goal is running his 400th marathon since turning 60. He already has his schedule mapped out and is set to accomplish the feat Oct. 14 in Key West, Fla., the southernmost marathon in the U.S. He's dealing with right hip, left knee and foot issues but has battled through them to keep running toward his goal.
"Looking forward to quitting or dropping down to the half," Hughes said.
In that light, Sunday may have been his final Hogeye Marathon. But Hughes still has a lot more to run, plenty of nights left in his truck and countless memories still to make with friends like Mack.
Sports on 04/11/2016
Print Headline: Little Rock senior, 67, runs Hogeye again