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Few people have accomplished what Ron Hankins did on April 28.
The 61-year-old Polk City resident crossed the finish line of the London Marathon, completing the 18th marathon of his career.
Along with his race medal, he received the Abbott Six Star Finisher medal, a recognition given to those who have completed the six marathons in the World Marathon Majors: Chicago, New York, Boston, Berlin, London and Tokyo.
Hankins has finished each race over the course of 19 years, earning a recognition only 6,133 people in the world have received since the Six Star Finisher award’s inception in 2013. Just over 1,100 of the recipients are from the United States.
“It’s a great goal to have accomplished,” he said. “To know all of the work that I had to go through to accomplish it, it’s just incredible.”
Hankins said he started marathon training in January 2000 after a New Year’s Eve dare from a friend. At the time, he had never run more than a 5K race.
About eight months of race training later, Hankins completed the Chicago Marathon.
For the next 19 years, Hankins continued to run hundreds of miles per year. He said he is now closing in on 20,000 miles since he started.
Picking up distance running was a good excuse to travel, he said, and a way to relieve tension.
“Running can be relaxing, and so it’s a good way to shake off the stress of the day,” he said.
Hankins’ initial long-term goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which he did in 2008. He ran the race in 2009 and has since returned to run it three more times.
Hankins ran the New York City Marathon in 2010, completing the three U.S. races in the series.
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When Hankins retired in 2016 from MidAmerican Energy, it gave him more time to devote to the training and travel for the remaining international races. He finished the Berlin Marathon in 2017, Tokyo in 2018, and London in April of this year.
Hankins said he’s had several people supporting him throughout the process, including his partner, Jim Pech.
He said his favorite marathons have been Boston because of its history, New York because of its scenery and Tokyo because of the location.
“Of all the ones I’ve done, I think Tokyo is the city I probably would have never gone to in my life if it wasn’t for the marathon,” he said. “It was just an incredible experience. I would love to go back some day.”
Hankins has had all of his marathon medals framed and plans to frame his Abbott Award as well — but not before he has a chance to take a few more photos with it around his neck.
He said he now believes it’s time to retire from running marathons, but he plans to keep running on his own, and likely finish a few half marathons for enjoyment.
“This is the fifth time I’ve retired from marathon running,” he chuckled. “But some of the injuries I had this time were a lot tougher. It’s starting to catch up with me.”
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