PROFILE--Doug Kurtis has been running for 52 years

Kurtis broke 3 hours in 5 consecutive decades.
(Jun. 2020) Doug Kurtis has long been recognized as one of the U.S.'s toughest, most consistent marathon runners. While working fulltime at Ford motors in Detroit, he accumulated 76 sub-2:20 marathons (PR--2:13:34), and won international marathons around the globe. He has also served as race director of several big Detroit-area races. Now retired at 68 and living just outside Asheville, NC, Kurtis continues running about 30mi/wk. He says he succeeded by investing in this talents. "The payoff can be tenfold," he notes.

Career-profession? I’ve worn many hats. Retired from Ford Motor Company as an IT systems analyst (31 years in 2007). Professional Marathon Runner (1981-1995). Running Columnist – Detroit Free Press (2001-2007). Race Director of four Major races in Detroit (1993 – . Currently still race director of the St. Patrick's day Corktown races).

When did you start running and why? 1968 – Junior year of H.S. X/C. My gym teacher encouraged me to join the team. I actually won
my first race in fifth grade, but no one recognized or encouraged my talent. I love playing all kinds of sports.

How much did you run in your peak years? From 1980 to 1995 I averaged 95 miles a week, two workouts a day, two speed workouts a week. Most long runs were no longer than 15 miles. Like the Hanson’s racing team, I learned how to keep going when I was tired.
The things a race director has to do
at a St. Patrick's Day race.

Top performances or achievements? 76 Sub 2:20 marathons / 40 marathon victories / 200 sub 3-hour marathons / 12 sub 2:20’s in one calendar year
/ 48:33 Crim 10 Mile PR.

An estimate of your total lifetime miles? Almost six times around the globe, over 150,000 miles.

How much are you running and cross-training now? About 30 miles per week. Asheville has many great places to hike and I use it as an alternative to going out running every day. The hiking has really helped my wife’s running. I’ve never done any stretching. Very minimal strength training.

Recent races? I haven’t raced in over a year. I get a lot more enjoyment out of volunteering at races.

Does it bother you that you are slower now? I accept that my racing days are behind me. Some days I feel slow but rationalize that at least I’m staying healthy. Exercise provides a method of weight maintenance. I run with my dog three to four days a week, so it keeps him healthy too. I’m fairly new to the area, so running through nearby neighborhoods gives me the chance to meet new people. It always surprises me to find you have some connection. I love running on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

How have your diet and weight changed through the years? At 145 pounds, I’m about 15 lbs. heavier than at my peak racing years. My wife is a vegetarian, so I tend to eat less meat than during my peak running years. I take a calcium and cholesterol tablet. Often a few M&M’s or some form of chocolate every day. I rarely drink alcohol beverages, mainly because I don’t like the taste. I guess I’m not a role model Hash House Harrier.

Injuries or health issues? My wife is envious because I’ve basically had no running injuries outside of cramping my hamstring a few times. I’ve had a few minor surgeries that weren’t running related. I’m fortunate to have my mother’s genetics. At 93, she still walks three or four times a week.

A favorite quote?  “True courage is facing danger when you are afraid. You don’t want to look back wishing that you had done something. The courageous take risks that have a chance of failure.”--Frank L Baum:

3 tips for hopeful lifetime runners?
1--Find other people to run with occasionally. It’s very difficult to become successful all by yourself.
2--Volunteer at long distance races. It’s inspiring and you’ll witness firsthand that everyone can get out and run or walk. 
3--Set short-term goals to get to your major goal. Find different ways to enjoy running. You can make it a lifetime of fun.

How does running improve your life? I can’t imagine my life without it. Not
just for me personally, because I’ve been fortunate to inspire many people through my accomplishments as a runner, race director, writer, and occasional speaker. Running has brought me a very wide circle of friends. The joy of talking about running with friends is phenomenal. I’m lucky to share running with my wife, brother, and sister-in-law. Many of my other family members have volunteered for me at races.

Biggest life lessons learned from running? Many successful people will tell you that the best investment you can make is in your talents, that it can pay off tenfold. I’ve worked very hard to do this. I was a race director during most of my competitive running years. It enabled me to use the creative side of my makeup. I didn’t intend to be a major race director, but when the opportunity arose, it felt like I was groomed for the position. Running has giving me the chance to meet interesting people and see amazing things all over the world. It changes how you view and experience life. It’s my nature to smile, be polite, and kind to people. This has served me well. As I age, I think there are still so many new things to learn and wonderful people to meet and support. Most running friends are friends for your entire life.