Thursday, March 31, 2016

71-Year-Old Looks Forward to Completing 71 Marathons and Inspires Us Every Step of the Way

Chances are, you’ve seen Don at the Y, and chances are, you’ve read about him in the paper at some point.

Don likes to run… a lot.

In fact, his nickname, which is also stated on his business card, is “The Flying Turtle.” Consistency and commitment can get you far… very far.

Don Van Houten didn’t even start running until he was 57 years old, but he had ridden his bike to the East Coast. An “Iron-Man-friend” told him, “If you can do that, you could run a marathon.”

Don told another friend, “I’m going to run a marathon.” The friend replied, “That will kill you.” Don said, “Well, we’ll see.”

He joined the Y in 2000 so he could start training for his first marathon. That was in Chicago in 2001. Since then, he has completed a marathon in all 50 states. It took him over 10 years. For 3 years he completed one a month! His next goal is to catch up to his age… he is 71 years old. Unfortunately, his doctor told him he would need a hip replacement, but, fortunately, that was 8 years ago without incident.

Did we also mention he’s biked across the US and canoed from Minneapolis to the Gulf of Mexico? (Just to mention a couple trips.) And right after retirement at the age of 62 he decided to hike the Appalachian Trail for 5.5 months. He ran/walked from Riverton to the state of West Virginia. He is also a cancer survivor. Listening to Don talk about his endurance feats is overwhelming but most importantly, it’s completely inspiring. His smile, good nature, and sense of humor light up the Y and are a manifestation of our mission.

He told us, before you embark on an endurance endeavor, you may need a few things:
“1. Be physically able (train), 2. Be financially able (save), 3. Make the time (schedule… or retire if you can) and 4. Find a supportive spouse (or at least a tolerant one)!”

Yet, he also clarifies... "Family always comes first."

At the Y, we preach a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. Don lets his spirit carry his body through his journeys, and we can’t help but follow along with our hearts. We are lucky to have him in our Y family. He reminds us not to let our thoughts or personal barriers ever get in the way of our dreams.

And Don’s mantra? “I would rather wear out than rust out.”

Interested in getting in shape for your next feat? Consider a Y membership today. Or better yet, personalize your fitness for your goals.

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