CLEVELAND (WJW) — Participating in every single Cleveland Marathon is a feat that a handful of runners can say they’ve accomplished. One of those athletes is Jim Mackert.
“When I started, I only wanted to run one,” he said. “I just got going with one, two, three, four, five; then there was a group and I had to stay with the group. Now there is about five or six that have participated in every one of the races.”
The 86-year-old said he got started running when he was a little overweight, but now he competes with his family, which includes six children, nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
“I love it,” Mackert said. “They asked me once: ‘How long will you keep going?’ I’ll keep going until I drop over, I guess.”
Every year Mackert also volunteers at the University Hospitals Health and Fitness Expo, passing out T-shirts and race packets. He isn’t running in the full marathon this year because he’s not as quick as he once was, but does plan on running the half-marathon.
More than 8,000 runners are registered for the four races at the Cleveland Marathon this weekend. Registration is still open for the half- and full marathon until 6 p.m. on Saturday.
“Running is a lifestyle. I mean, it takes a lot of time and effort to train for a marathon,” Cleveland Marathon Race Director Ralph Staph said. “Three months of time of training dedicated just for a marathon; for one event day. It’s a lot of work and a lot of effort.”
Mackert looks forward to this weekend all year and can’t wait to be back on the course with all the other participants.
“One of my goals when I used to run: As I go to the starting line and talk to different people and ask them, ‘Why are you here?’ I always love to hear the answers of what possessed them to come out and get started,” he said. “I always encourage them to keep going.”