by Elaine Doll-Dunn

Rain, hail, snow, sleet…mountain lions, rattlesnakes, ennui, heat. Homer

Hastings of Newcastle, WY, is on the road/trail/mountain every day of every month of every year and has been for the last 19. Logging over 85,000 miles on his lean, mean, swift and clean body, he epitomizes the focused runner, the quintessential athlete, the picture of health and vitality.

At 61 years old, he wins his age group and usually the four below him as well. When he was 43, he ran a mile in 4:40, cutting 10 seconds off the time he ran in it in high school. In basketball he averaged 22 points a game and still holds the school record of 43 points in one game. This was well before the three-point rule!

But mostly Homer (Mountain Man) is the Mount Rushmore Marathon legend. I (Wonder Woman) share that spot with him. We two have the dubious distinction of having run every single one of this particular marathon since its inception, the only two to have done so. The difference is that he runs them in just over three hours—consistently—and I, well, I get the job done. This year marked the 25th consecutive year of this friendly competition, and was cause for big celebration! Homer always calls me the week of the marathon and reads to me one of his inimitable poems relative to the current year’s challenge. (Shakespeare, look out.) Then we solemnly promise that “this is the last year, enough is enough, we have other things to do in October,” yada, yada, yada. We both know it’s a ruse, but this year we decided quite seriously that 25 was enough, that it was a good year to quit, and that we could both move on to other October challenges.

As we chatted at the finish line (Mountain Man always graciously waits the couple hours for Wonder Woman) I panted, “Homer, I am so relieved! We did it! It’s over! Twenty-five years! Next year I can go to Chicago this weekend! We can have a life!” He looked away. He glanced down at his bandaged foot, blistered for the first time in 25 years. Something about his expression bothered me…


Hesitantly he responded, “Uh, Elaine, I’m uh, sure. Sure. It’s over. I’m 99.9% sure I won’t do it again next year. Yup, 99.9% sure. But, y’know, 26 would be a marathon….”


And that’s Homer. If you want to see this phenom on feet, come watch him run his third Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon on Sunday, June 6th. I predict he will be crossing the finish line in front of the Bullock at 10:15; 3 ½ hours after the start at Rochford. His salt-and-pepper beard dripping on his salt-and-pepper chest, head high and stride long, he won’t even be breathing hard. (If he gets addicted to this one, maybe I can be the “last runner standing” at the Mount Rushmore Marathon!)

Elaine's book on her 26.2 Marathons in 2000 is available!
Email Elaine for more details:

"I noticed her at seventeen miles. Running strong, powering up the hill from the fire station, cute little body shapely in black running tights and top... Soft silver hair haloed her head as she ran smoothly through the chill Boston air. I pulled up beside her and settled into her pace, "Hi, you're running well..." "Thanks, I feel good." "I'm doing research on women who began marathoning after the age of forty, do you mind if I ask how old you are when you started running?" "Not at all, I was sixty-eight when I started running and began marathoning soon after that." I did a quick double-take, thought for a moment then looked sideways at her. We had crested the hill and were moving at a comfortable talk/run pace. She grinned back at me impishly and said, "I'm seventy-five now, and... I'm a Catholic nun!""
- taken from Chapter 9 of Gotta Run... by Elaine Doll-Dunn.

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