The man who lost a footrace with a horse in a thrilling race lies virtually immobile in a Morrilton nursing home.
Max Stacy, a former professor of business studies at the University of Central Arkansas and a runner of some consequence, was set upon by a passel of dogs recently, inflicting such trauma on him that it put an end to his daily diversion.
Stacy, a spry fellow who lives in Treasure Hills, was a celebrity of sorts while doing a daily stint of trudging around Beaverfork Lake despite the vagaries of weather. Sunshine, rain, sleet or snow did not deter Stacy’s daily stint, drawing curious glances from motorists along Highway 65 and from people in the environs of the lake.
He was almost oblivious of - or seemed to be — of the surroundings around him, moving in a downcast mode, dressed oddishly, mumbling to himself, always intent on plowing ahead, chasing off dogs who barked menacingly at him. Dog were his nemesis, but no humans took umbrage of his walking presence.
He was a memorable figure in recent years, but hardly like the notorious fellow during the giddy years of the Conway Centennial in 1973 when he participated in an incredible race with a horse. Or more correctly, taking part in a race with five of his academic pals who shared his love for running against five horses.
It was said to be a highlight of the celebration. And it was. No one can be found who would accept charge for dreaming up the race. But is was Stacy, Darald Smith, Denver Prince, Loren Guffey and Faril Simpson, representing a running club at UCA, aligned against five horses in a 20 mile race to Mayflower and return, starting at the Conway airport
To say it was strange sight and one that would never be, duplicated along the old highway to Little Rock, Conwayites who recall the race, attest to that fact. The race began awkwardly with the male runners abreast of the animals. Stacy broke in front with the horse that was the eventual winner at his heels.
As the contestants dashed down the road, it was apparent that it would have a close ending. The winning horse hit the wire at 2:06 with Stacy in second place at 2:09. The others trailed shamefully.
Stacy was hailed for his victory and became a star of the Centennial.
His running proclivity had developed when he jogged around the UCA track with fellow professors. He would also exercise along the nearby railroad tracks.
When he and his family moved to Treasure Hills, he began jogging a daily routine beginning in 1972 according to his daughter Joanie Stacy, taking in Beaverfork Road, around the lake, through Lakeview Acres, back up Highway 65 to his home in Treasure Hills. He never deviated from that route, carving out a route he would follow for years. His daughter recalls that he would "sometimes swim across the lake and back again."
He had trouble with dogs during his runs around the lake, she said. "And he has been brushed by automobiles on Highway 65 as he ran," she added.
At 80 years of age, Stacy was no match for the dogs that attacked him near Pickles Gap recently. He fell and broke his hip. Later when he was recuperating, he tumbled out of bed and broke his back.
It’s been downhill for Stacy since then. Complications accruing from surgery triggered Alzheimer’s and the family says, he has been diagnosed also with dementia.
Recent events have devastated them, their daughter maintains. "It has turned our world upside down. But we have faith in God and we know that the Lord will take care of us. We are people of faith. When we were told that he would not get better, my mom looked at the therapist and said, ‘Yes, he will. The Lord can do anything.’ Now we’re working to get him home...that will be his best medicine."