Clarence Hartley - Inspirational Marathon Runner

Defining Perseverance – Clarence Hartley

Clarence Hartley - Inspirational Marathon RunnerTo me, Clarence Hartley, age 81, defines perseverance.  As a military man, he fought in both the Korean War and Vietnam War.  Upon retiring to a small Georgia town, he took up running at age 68 after seeing a race in his town.  Now Mr. Hartley is a full-blown marathon runner having qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 4 hours and 9 minutes.

Though Mr. Hartley’s achievements and records are commendable and endearing, that’s only half the story.

The 4 hours and 9 minute qualification time for Boston came in 2005.  But he never ran that race.  Instead he was undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Then, in 2007, he discovered he had prostate cancer.  Using Lance Armstrong as an inspiration, once Mr. Hartley recovered he got back on his horse and started running again.

Mr. Hartley’s exercise routine is to run every other day and he averages 25-30 miles per week.   The Boston Marathon will take place on Monday, April 18th.  I know I’ll be rooting for him.

I think Mr. Hartley’s story embodies the notion of perseverance.  You could argue that he has been fighting his entire life, first as a military man and then as a cancer survivor.  But he has risen to the occasion and conquered the challenges presented to him thus far in his long life.  That is something we can all learn from.  Chances are, the problems you are facing in life right now pale in comparison to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer.  It’s amazing enough to survive both diseases and then to thrive afterward.  But to take it to the next level and run a race that most young people 1/4 of his age can’t run, that’s truly inspirational and courageous.

He also has a sense of humor.  He is quoted in the article as saying “It’s fun being old when you’re healthy and in shape,” Hartley later said. “I have to look for porta-potties more often, though. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of those at Boston.”

Original article:,8029,s6-239-506-0-13907-0,00.html
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What do you think of this inspirational story?  Share your thoughts below!

Update (19-Apr-2011): Clarence finished the marathon with a time of 4 hours 26 minutes and 25 seconds. Fantastic!

4 replies
  1. Hall
    Hall says:

    Hey, I took that photo of Clarence. I actually got to sit down and talk to him after running the Chattahoochee Challenge 10k with him. Had a great time talking to him. It was awesome to see him in Runner’s World too.

    • Adam Pervez
      Adam Pervez says:

      Wow, that’s fabulous! Thanks for sharing. His story is so inspirational and universally appealing. I hope you can run the Chattahoochee 10k with him again next year!

  2. Tom Lamb
    Tom Lamb says:

    What an inspiration!! I met Mr Hartley at a 5k in Atlanta. He is probably most influential in my still running at 66. He is such a gracious individual. Made all the difference in my setting and attaining many health and running goals! Thank you Mr. Hartley!!!!


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  1. […] have been two posts recently about marathon runners.  The first was about Clarence Hartley, an inspirational man defining perseverance.  The other was about Gladys Burrill, the oldest […]

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