Published: August 17, 2013
Briefly, a white-mouthed, aching Ron Hendricks thought about giving up running.
At age 61, his body can't withstand the toll running takes like it used to.
"Not even close," the Larkspur resident said.
So why hasn't he stopped? Why does he keep going after more than 40 years?
The answer is 62-year-old Bob Evers out of Park City, Utah.
Today, it's a friendly rivalry that has provided each man the ongoing motivation to go forward in the young man's sport.
It's the kind of friendship that doesn't require lengthy phone calls or emails. It usually doesn't even require them to be in the same place most of the time.
In fact, a good portion of the time the friendship actually swells while both men are icing after a long workout. See, it's then the two men go online and see what each other has been up to. From there, once they click the mouse a couple of times, and see the other is still in fact running, they realize there is no turning their backs on the sport they can't help but love.
"We always see each other racing somewhere. It's good to see one another still going at this, since we're about the same age," Hendricks said. "It's fun to run with him and see his times at events around the states. But it's fun to try and beat him."
On a warm and sunny Saturday on the top of Pikes Peak, Hendricks did just that. He topped Evers by 5 minutes. Both finished in the top 100 in the nearly 1,800-person field at the Pikes Peak Ascent.
Hendricks finished the 13.32-mile trek to the top of Pikes Peak in 3 hours, 11 minutes. Evers finished in 3 hours, 16 minutes.
"Yeah, yeah," Evers smiled after the race. "He got me this time. With like four or five miles left he just started taking off. I wasn't going to catch him today."
Pushing to the line, Hendricks barely kept his footing as he crossed the rocky finish line before immediately sitting down.
At the sight of it, a race volunteer quickly ran over to check if Hendricks was feeling OK, to which Hendricks smiled and assured him - with a grin nearly the size of the peak - that he was.
Hendricks was just waiting for a friend.
"We've followed each other for a while around running," said Hendricks after meeting up with Evers at the finish. "When we aren't at the same race I always go see what time he got. It's been a lot of fun to keep in touch and have that connection."
After the race, the two men walked and talked about their travails of the past three hours. It was their way of savoring the moment.
"You see most guys our age and they aren't running anymore because injuries are so much more likely when you cross the age of 55," Hendricks said. "But we're lucky. We know we aren't as fast as we once were and that's OK. We are just enjoying what we can still give."