Marvin Hachmeister arrived at Kansas State University’s Ahearn Field House at 6:30 a.m., when the track was still empty, on March 9. It was his 90th birthday, and he was setting out to run 90 laps of the indoor track.
If this sounds unusual to you, it’s not for Hachmeister; in fact, this is far from the first time that Hachmeister has spent several hours running on his birthday. In 1981, when he turned 50, a crew of track and cross-country kids at the school he taught at bet Hachmeister that he couldn’t run 50 laps around a 200-meter track. He did it that year and has continued running his age in laps on his birthday every year since.
“I just keeping adding a lap very year,” Hachmeister told Runner’s World. “That‘s what I’ve been up to these days.”
Hacheister started running in high school in 1946. He picked up longer distances starting in 1979; a blood test revealed his blood was low on oxygen, and exercise was suggested. Now, Hacheister runs six days a week, mostly with his Australian cattle dog. Also, he lives on a farm, and still does quite a bit of farm work on top of his running.
After years as a high-school shop and manual labor teacher, he took another job at to Kansas State University, where he became close with the track and cross-country team. The runners occasionally join him for laps on the track.
“I used to be able to talk more when running, but as I get a little older, I use every breath of oxygen up,” Hachmeister said. “I’ve got a few guys who run regularly with me, not this year, but used to. I used to tell them if they wore headphones, I couldn’t talk to them. Now, I don’t care because I need to breathe harder.”
For four decades now, Hachmeister has gathered friends to join him for his annual birthday run. The people he has met through running are the reason he keeps going, which is why his two most recent birthday runs have been difficult.
“I really like going to races and runners, as a whole, are jolly-good people,” Machmeister said. “I really like the social part because of things like I was by myself after my wife passed away in 2012. A person has to be careful. They can sit back and go into depression or something. The social aspect of running helped me a lot.”
This year, Hacmeister, who is fully vaccinated, tackled most of his run alone, though some of the Kansas State cross-country runners joined him for the first few laps as they began practice. Hachmeister ran three miles before stopping for a drink and to switch directions. He finished his 11.85-mile journey in about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
“I’m glad I got it done again this year,” he said. “I would like to make it being able to do a 5K at 95. I’ll just have to see. I’m in pretty good health and don’t have any health problems that I know of. I’m always gonna keep going if I can.”
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