Whether it is Pike’s Peak, the Grand Canyon, Washington, D.C., or Little Rock, John Knapp has run a marathon there. Knapp, 75, lives at Heritage Living Center in Conway.
Prior to living at Heritage, Knapp ran in 52 marathons across the country.
He ran for about 20 years, and started running for his health and for exercise. He ran his first marathon in Little Rock or Benton, but cannot remember which one.
“I ran almost all the time. I tried to eat healthy food, but didn’t really pay attention or get on a health kick,” he said.
His running was cut short when he suffered a stroke that caused him some leg problems.
“I fell in the middle of a gravel road,” he said of the stroke.
Although he ran in the marathons, Knapp said a lot of his running took place “on dirt roads in Benton and places you have never heard of.”
Some of his favorite places were near the “Pig Trail” leading to Fayetteville, along the Mulberry River and near Camp Ouachita.
“That was one of the good running places,” he said, pointing at a photo where he had stopped to tie his shoes.
Wearing an International Trucking shirt, Knapp looked through stacks of photos as he talked and recalled the memories associated with each.
“I ran five times at the top of the Grand Canyon,” he said, pointing to a photo that showed him in running gear in the canyon. He said many aid stations were available at that marathon.
He often traveled with other runners and found marathons along the way. One photo showed him in Pilot Grove, Mo.
One year, Knapp was part of two bus loads of runners who went to Pike’s Peak for its marathon.
“We had the biggest group,” he said, showing a photo of a banner labeling the group that hung outside their hotel room.
One of his most memorable runs was the Marine Corps. Marathon in Washington, D.C. Knapp pulled out several photos of the sites around Washington.
“There were 30 of us who went to that, and all of us finished,” he said of the event he attended with the Benton Running Club.
During his time as a runner, Knapp said he wore out a lot of shoes.
“I ran every day. I think I wore out shoes in three to six months,” he said.
After running for four to five years, Knapp said he met with a running therapist who advised him about what to do to support his joints and his eating habits.
In addition to running, Knapp also rode bikes.
“But, it wasn’t racing. I did it for exercise,” he said.
To be a good runner, Knapp said you have to be committed, dedicated and train a lot.
“It made me feel good, the endorphins,” he said.
He suggested that prospective runners join a running club.
“Get in a running club. I was a member of four or five running clubs. Get in a club, get to know some runners, go on a trip. It is fun,” Knapp said.
A tip Knapp offers for those wanting to run a marathon is “don’t worry about the time, just finish.”
Knapp will be using some of the skills he learned as a runner as he and other residents at Heritage are preparing for the Senior Olympics held in Conway this October.
(Staff writer Holly Latimer can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)