(Sept. 2019) Marge Hickman was a top woman ultra runner in the mid 1980s with an impressive number of victories and elite performances. At 69, she's still going strong--running about 50 miles a week and racing when she feels like it. Hickman has had plenty of injurie and surgeries along the way,, but nothing keeps her down for long. "Don't get discouraged," she says. "Everything in life takes time, patience, determination, and mental toughness."
Career? I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Moved to Denver, CO in 1972. My husband and I have been retired for four years. I was a legal assistant/paralegal my entire career. In between jobs I attended massage school
for 1 ½ years at the Boulder Healing Arts Institute and became a certified massage therapist. I still enjoy doing and giving healing massage therapy to friends. Over the years, I’ve also served on athletic sports boards for races and various sports events.
When and why did you start running? I started running June 1978. My first marathon was the Denver Marathon; 3:14, won third place woman. I was hooked on running, for sure. (Played competitive racquetball for years before running.) I began running, silly but true, to lose weight and get fit. I also needed a new challenge after becoming an “A” racquetball champion.
Did you have an early inspiration or person who motivated you? When I moved to Denver in 1972, I was overwhelmed by how active and fit people were. I joined an athletic club where I reshaped my life. I met Jim Butera in 1982. He worked at Frank Shorter’s Running store and sold me my first pair of trail-running shoes. He encouraged and inspired me to try ultrarunning and to join his running club which I did. Jim was the founder/race director of the Leadville Trail 100 Endurance Run in 1983. Of course, I had to try an ultra and the LT100 was it!
How much did you run per week in your peak years? Now? Peak years up to 100-mile weeks. Now, 50 per week give or take a few and depending upon my next race.
In my younger years, I ran at least once a day but some days 3 times a day (before work, on my lunch hour, and
then again after work with a friend). I was addicted!! Now, I train when I want and as my body tells me, but usually 5 days a week at varying distances and pace.
Most memorable races or achievements? Oh my gosh, I have many great memories. Perhaps most memorable and difficult was completing the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning in 1989 (doing all 4 major 100-mile races in the same year). 1984 thru 1987, I think: I have also won the Boulder Marathon, the Steamboat Marathon, the Estes Park Triathlon and Marathon, the Crested Butte Marathon twice; the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Race in 1985, and other marathons and 100s. My best marathon time was 2:56 at Virginia Beach in 1984. My best 50 mile time--7:08. My best 100--20:15. My best 24-hour on the track--110.5 miles.
Has your diet/weight changed through the years? Yes, I have become more aware of what I feed my body for best running results. I do love my chocolate and junk food!
Cross Training? I do road-bike and mountain-bike training, and weights, yoga and some water running.
Social running? Social running is very important to me. Especially as I get older, I love to run with others. I continue to be a competitive runner in races of any distance, but I have no problem running slower in any social run.
Obstacles along the way? I have had surgeries on both shoulders (rotator cuff and a replacement); surgeries on both feet for plantar fasciitis (one heel had a stress fracture too); shattered wrist from fall tangled in dog leashes; big toe nail permanent removal due to constant bruising and losing toenail; carpal tunnel and just recently sinus surgery.
A favorite quote: “With a little bit of training anyone can finish the Leadville Trail 100 Mile race.” I said that back in the day in a VHS video when I was on top of my running/racing career in ultrarunning. I wouldn’t say that now…lol.
Running philosophy? Start slow, increase pace, hold it steady, taper and finish strong!
Has running helped you with the aging process? Yes, it has kept me young, strong, possessed of a positive attitude, and I’m going to keep going!!!!
Biggest lessons learned? Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it! Never stop trying. Trust and believe in myself. Be my own person. Do what I love. Encourage women to take up or try ultrarunning and enjoy the adventure. Life is good! I try to live each day to the fullest and be the best person that I can be. To support, help, encourage and inspire women and anyone I come across or meet on my life’s journey.
Three tips for younger but hopeful lifetime runners?
1--Gather info from fellow runners, do your research, read books, internet articles and stories.
2--Start slow, take small steps, and increase weekly goals.
3--Don’t get discouraged, as with everything in life it takes time, patience, determination, and mental toughness to stick with it. No excuses!