Claude Hicks Jr.’s passion for running has provided many opportunities to appreciate nature.
On July 26, Hicks completed the Kilauea Volcano Marathon – his 100th run of 26.2 miles or longer – in 4 hours, 37 minutes, 36 seconds. This year, the course had to be altered, Hicks said, because the volcano was spewing sulfur and other toxins. Runners were routed away from the lava fields.
“It wasn’t quite as tough as I had hoped,” said Hicks, 48. “The night before, I was disappointed. The day of, I thought: ‘It was still a tough run.’ ”
Hicks, a resident of Watauga, didn’t road race until his mother invited him to join her for the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando in 2004 . His mother had health issues and was encouraged to register for the event by her doctor, so she did so to get in shape.
“I’ve been hooked ever since,” Hicks said. “It’s the most expensive hobby I’ve ever had.”
In June, he finished the Running with The Devil 50-mile ultramarathon in the Mohave Desert in 12:49.21. Next week, he’s headed to Alaska. In October, he plans to complete his quest to run a marathon in all 50 states. He will run the Louisville Marathon, near where he grew up.
Hicks said he typically runs at least six miles on weekdays. He runs 20 to 40 miles on weekends.
One of his favorite runs was the Sunday he took off from his front door and ran to Decatur. He called his wife to pick him up when he was tired – 37 miles later.
Other times, he’ll run in the middle of the night. His favorite course is the 5-mile loop around Texas Motor Speedway at 2 a.m.
“It’s kind of a spiritual, relaxing thing,” he said. “It’s so dark. There are the stars, the armadillos and the skunks.”
Sadly, he said, cancer has stricken his mother, and she can no longer run.
“A lot of people can’t run,” Hicks said. “It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
And for that, he will always think of and thank his mother.