Our Featured Runner for March is Doug Swartzendruber. At the 2012 Evart 4th of July 5k Doug was 66 years old and finished second in the 60 and over age group in a time of 29:47. As a semi-retired college teacher, Doug is either traveling the world for Pepperdine University or at home in Boulder, Colorado where he trains at high altitude. As one of the fittest cities in the United States, and one of the main centers of running activity in the country, Boulder offers Doug plenty of opportunity to stay in shape.
Doug began running “a little over 30 years ago,” but his primary sport has always been basketball. When he was in high school Doug played for the New Paris (Indiana) Cubs, a school about the same size as the school in the movie HOOSIERS. Doug took up running as an activity in itself because of a bet with his brother-in-law. “While recovering from a holiday meal, my brother-in-law and I thought we had better go for a run. We were not particularly successful and decided that a challenge was in order. My brother-in-law took it seriously and quickly became one of the top runners in the region, and I pretty much kept playing basketball.” Doug has continued to run off and on as his schedule permits and has maintained his fitness level so well over the years that he still plays basketball regularly and holds his own against players 30 years younger.
Doug credits running as the activity that has helped him control the weight gain that naturally occurs with advancing age. He has not had to change his diet much in order to accomplish this. Doug says that his extended family has quite a few heavy folks and that he consciously tries not to go down that path. At this time Doug runs several days a week and walks on most of the other days. Though Boulder is blessed with many, many runners, Doug usually runs alone. He doesn’t “mind running alone” but has, in different situations, routinely run with a small group of close friends. Running on trails is Doug’s favorite workout. He particularly enjoys running on the Barr Trail (Pikes Peak), the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, or on Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, describing these runs as a combination of a “good workout and an adventure.”
Doug’s personal record for 5k is 18:49 and for 10k “just under 40:00.” Doug has run several marathons. He has run the incredibly tough Pikes Peak Marathon where the Ascent (half marathon) is considered to be about equal in time to a regular marathon. His best Ascent time is 3:42. Doug also did the round trip on Pikes Peak in slightly under 7 hours, and has also run the Las Vegas Marathon and Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, both in the 3:50’s.
Doug plans to make the journey from Colorado to Evart again next 4th of July to run our race. He says that Evart is “a great place to visit and the 4th of July 5k is one of the most enjoyable” events he has done,” even though “it was a tad hot” last year.