Hal Goforth's Historic Journey

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Marc Davis (Communications Manager)
Boston Athletic Association
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22 JUN 2012
Goforth's story on how he first discovered running

By Chris LotsbomHal Goforth

Hal Goforth, Jr.'s  story isn't something you hear everyday. The 67-year-old who splits his time between California and Florida isn't your average runner. He is an extraordinary one. Having run 36 Boston Marathons, eleven B.A.A. Half Marathons, and this year's B.A.A. 5K, Goforth will be competing in his first B.A.A. 10K on Sunday. Entered in the inaugural B.A.A. Distance Medley, Goforth's story on how he first discovered running - and the Boston Athletic Association - is special.

Goforth first started running in the late 1960's as a way to prepare himself for the Navy. That's when he heard of the Boston Athletic Association and the Boston Marathon. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Goforth would continue running once he returned to the United States. After serving in the Navy, Goforth soon began running competitively in California. 

Shortly thereafter, Goforth told his father he wanted to compete in the Boston Marathon, something his friends had talked about doing at some point in their lives. On the starting line of the 1975 Boston Marathon, Goforth would soon finish his first Hopkinton-to-Boston trek.  

"I was just taken aback, the first event was just amazing. I was hooked and couldn't get off," said Goforth, who is an avid fisherman. 

That same year, Goforth caught a glimpse of just how special the Boston Marathon was. Seeing Bob Hall compete as the first wheelchair athlete and Bill Rodgers win the men's race in an American record (despite stopping to tie his shoes and get water), Goforth couldn't miss another one of the B.A.A.'s events. 

Now some thirty-seven years later, Goforth is a Boston Marathon veteran and a very competitive age group athlete. Though his fastest Boston Marathon was a 2:28:32 in 1981, Goforth still has the competitive juices in him. With a collection of awards from his completed B.A.A. events at his home, Goforth couldn't resist the inaugural B.A.A. Distance Medley. 

"When [the B.A.A.] made it a series, that was a challenge," he said. "The first of the series, I knew I couldn't turn that down."

In April, Goforth ran the B.A.A. 5K, clocking 26:24. This Sunday, he will compete in his first B.A.A. 10K, hoping to do well in his age group. 

"I am excited for it," said Goforth. "There is just so much history in this town." 

So what has been Goforth's key to longevity and running success?  Though he has been motivated and inspired by the likes of Bill Rodgers, Johnny Kelley, and his Florida Track Club-West teammates, six simple words sum up his string of finishes. 

"Train Hard, Race Hard, and Celebrate," he said.
B.A.A. Moment 4

1935 John A. Kelley

Born in West Medford, Massachusetts as one of ten children, Kelley ran track and cross-country at Arlington High School in Massachusetts. He did not finish his first Boston Marathon in 1928, but eventually competed in a record 61 Boston Marathons. A legend of the marathon, Kelley won the 1935 and 1945 runnings of the Boston Marathon. He finished in second place at Boston a record seven times. Between 1934 to 1950, he finished in the top five 15 times at Boston, consistently running in the 2:30s. He ran his last full marathon at Boston in 1992 at the age of 84, his 61st start and 58th finish there.