By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It’s hard to imagine how Bob Johnson finds time to run. In addition to being mayor of Perkins, Johnson pastors a church, volunteers as a reserve police officer and does other odd jobs around the city.
But when he does run, few can catch up.
At the Oklahoma City Marathon in July, the 76-year-old ran a half marathon in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 15 seconds — first place for his age group. And it wasn’t a photo finish either. Johnson obliterated the competition by 12 minutes. Of the 8,000 entrants in all age groups, Johnson placed in the top quarter.
Johnson said he grew up surrounded by fitness. His father was captain of the high school football team and a track star. Johnson has been active his whole life playing softball, basketball and any other sport he felt like trying.
When he turned 40 he took up running. He has since competed in 11 full marathons and countless other smaller runs, amassing more than 100 ribbons and medals. Several times he’s made the 42-mile trek across Oklahoma’s panhandle — though he admitted he walked a good amount of it.
“I feel like I’m not a long runner, I feel like I’ve got more fast-twitch muscle,” he said.
When training for a run, Johnson said he works his way up to a 12-mile run every 10 days. He described himself as being old school — no fancy gizmos or gadgets. Just a pair of shoes and the open road.
“I just run how I feel,” Johnson said.
He is acutely in tune with his body without the fancy gadgets. At a race in Arkansas in which runners had to try and guess their race time without any help, Johnson paced himself within 2 seconds of his estimate.
“I know what my body can do,” he said.
Recently, he hasn’t been able to run much.
Decades of sport have taken their toll on Johnson’s body. His running has slowed to mostly walking. While this is disappointing, he is at peace with it.
“As you get older you don’t do some of the things you did when you were younger,” Johnson said.
Five years ago, Johnson injured his Achilles tendon during a half marathon in Dallas and was out for a year. Recently, his knees have been bothering him and he is waiting to hear back from his doctor.
“That’s just the way it is,” Johnson said.