The Running Man

posted by Steve Bortstein -

For some, running is a chore. The idea of getting from Point A to Point B in a minimal amount of time requires a great expense of one's capacity to deal with the effects.

For Wayne Darnell, the idea of it seemed just like "a lot more fun".

Darnell, who recently competed in the Boston Marathon, is set to hit the pavement again this weekend to compete in the Prairie Fire Half Marathon in Wichita, Kansas.

"I couldn't lift weights anymore, I messed up my shoulders and developed bone spurs," Darnell said. "So I just started running, found out it's a lot more fun and easier."

The 70-year-old Darnell, who has lived in Farmington for 45 years, finished eighth in the race in his age group (70-74 year-olds), running the course in 3 hours, 58 minutes and 44 seconds despite some of the worst conditions in history of the race.

"Worst weather in 122 years," Darnell recalled when working on a bike this week at Defined Fitness. "Wind and rain blowing right in your face. Snow at the starting line, rain all the way through."

Training for a marathon is one thing, but training for inclement weather is a totally different matter.

"Set some priorities for when you're training for an event like that," Darnell said. "I accomplished one of my priorities, but I cramped up late in the race." 

Darnell, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam from 1969-1971, recently retired from a 32-year stint at PNM where he worked as an instrument technician, will be looking to make a quick turnaround this weekend in Wichita.

"You're supposed to take a day off for every mile you run. But I only have three weeks to run this other half, so I was in a quandary," Darnell said. "It's only a half and I usually do a half every Sunday anyway."

And that, right there. That is the difference between Darnell and so many more people. But that's the spirit of someone who has learned not to let age, time, or the human body's reaction to those things slow him down.

Darnell can often be found at the gym, and he doesn't let the time there go to waste. When he's not on the treadmills or the bikes, he can be found stretching or lifting weights. He is the embodiment of never letting age getting the better of him.

"Defined Fitness has been awesome. The equipment is good, they keep everything in great shape and I have a lot of friends here," Darnell said as he was into another mile on a bike.

It's the people at the gym who have been a constant source of support for many individuals, doing whatever it is they need to do to empower themselves and to own their fitness revolution.

Among those friends are his coaches Alan Carter and Mike Ehredt, who have been with him for many of these adventures around the country, as well as his girlfriend Barbara Leitner, who has also participated in several marathons with Darnell.

And for the record, Darnell isn't just planning on staying within the nation's borders to compete. His next goal is a marathon in Tokyo, Japan, scheduled for Feb. 25, 2019.

Darnell's experience in running in marathons goes back to 2015, but he's the definition of a man who's life has been a marathon. And he's done far more than compete in the marathon of life, he's dominated it for a very long time. 

Like any good journey, there are people and places who assist in the process, and Darnell was quick to point out several of those important people, including those at Hyland's Homeopathic and at Brown's Shoe Fit in Durango.   

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