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by Tumbleweed Smith

Pat Johns of Plano, Texas is the only person who has run the 100 mile Himalayan marathon four times. He started running 33 years ago for weight control. After getting a job in the corporate world just out of college, he put on some extra weight and found himself at 215 pounds. Now he weighs 195. He calls himself a Clydesdale.

“It’s a category for runners who are big, old and slow,” says Pat. “I’ve never really wanted trophies. All I want to do is complete the race. I usually finish in the middle of the pack.”

He says running is a progressive disorder.

“You start running a little bit, then you do a 10K, then a half marathon, then a full marathon, then you go crazy and start doing some of the ultra marathons. My first was the Pikes Peak event where you run up to 14,000 feet, then turn around and come back down again. After I did that one three times, I thought I was ready for the Himalayan run.”

Pat felt confident when he got to the India-Nepal border where the race takes place. Then he met people who swam the 4000 mile Amazon River and ran the 1100-mile Iditarod on foot in 30 below weather. It was then he decided to delve into the motivation of the people running the race. He decided it’s not about running. It’s about life. Pat left the corporate world a couple of years ago and is now an internationally recognized motivational speaker. He got his start by speaking to a couple of Rotary clubs in the Dallas area, telling about his experiences as a runner and relating them to life. Pat has written a book, “Footprints In the Shadow of Giants” which features some of his philosophy and photographs.

He says the Himalayan 100 is the most beautiful of all the 60 marathons he has run. On the trail, runners can see the four tallest peaks in the world. It is a grueling race.

“It’s 104 miles over five days,” says Pat. “The first day is the worst. It’s 24 miles with an 8,000 feet vertical gain. We go from 6,000 feet to 14,000 at about a nine-degree angle. The second day in a 20-mile run, the third day is 30, then the last two days are 13 and 17 mile runs. A lot of people fall and get scratched up pretty bad. I’ve seen some terrible ankle, knee and wrist injuries. It’s just amazing what people are capable of doing.”

In his presentations, Pat stresses the fact that we are trained to believe that we’re limited and can’t do things. But the reality is that people are limitless and can re-condition themselves to believe that anything is possible.

The first time Pat ran the Himalayan marathon in 2000, 60 runners from 15 countries competed. Half of them were from the US.

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