Harrison Hensley had already completed 17 5K (3.1-mile) races this year, and he hopes to run 100 in 2013 — maybe more.
“I’ll do it until I can’t, because then I’ll sit here in my bed, and I’ll die,” he told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. “It’s the end when you stop doing something.”
Hensley strives to finish anything he starts.
The Putnam Township man worked at Ford Motor Co. for 35 years as a millwright skilled tradesman, and he was married to his wife, Dolores, for 56 years.
“We went everywhere together,” Hensley said. “We were a good team.”
While a doctor’s advisory prevented his wife from running, she was an avid race volunteer. The two would deliver fliers promoting other races and free copies of Michigan Runner magazine to the events.
The Run Thru Hell on Halloween was hosted in honor of Dolores in 2011, the year she died following a stroke. Hensley co-founded a similar race, Run Thru Hell, 32 years ago.
When Hensley was young, he’d run to the store and to school.
“I walked so slow, I’d rather run,” he said.
But he didn’t start running competitively until 1978, at age 45.
To date, he has run races in 41 states, completing about 2,150 races.
Hensley arrives to each race two hours early, and leaves two hours after he completes it.
“It’s my social time,” he said. “This is a lonely place by myself, so that’s the way it goes.
“It’s better than sitting here, it’s better than that.”
Hensley planned to run 100 5K (3.1-mile) races in 2012, but a trip to the Grand Canyon put him off. Instead of wearing hiking gear as he ventured down the steep slope, he wore his Nike running shoes.
He ended up losing toe nails, and the toes became infected, restricting his running. He was only able to complete 89 races.
The man hopes to hike down the canyon again this year.
Hensley runs for his physical well-being. Plus, “it keeps the cobwebs out of your noggin,” he said.
“I’ve still got the fire, but my head says go and my body says, ‘are you kidding me?’” he said. “Things don’t come as easy now as they did.”