The ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Loa Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” For Blount County native Brett King, it began in 2013 as a competitive bet between legal colleagues.
When King speaks about running, it is quite clear he is passionate about the subject. Although he said he was never a star athlete in high school, he believes that running is a skill at which even the most ordinary people can become extraordinary.
At 42 years old, King contributes running, as well as a six-day-a-week exercise and yoga regimen, to being in the best shape of his life.So far this year King has run 1,390 miles during training and races.
His routine is science based. King has read at least 15 books on the art and science of running. From what he learned, he was able to fine-tune his running method by incorporating the physics of proper body form while running.
Initially, running was not a love for King. He admitted that he had been running for awhile before he really began to enjoy it.King set a series of goals for himself along the way, keeping his eyes locked on one major goal, to run in one of the most well-known races in the world, the Boston Marathon.
On Nov. 14, King headed west to run in a marathon called the REVEL Run: Mount Charleston, in Las Vegas. He said it was a well-organized marathon and was limited to only a few hundred runners due to COVID-19 protocols.
In complete darkness at 4:40 a.m., the runners were bussed to the top of Mount Charleston overlooking the breathtaking scenery of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest. At 6:20 a.m., on top of the snowcapped mountain, in upper 20-degree temperatures, at 7,633 feet elevation, the sun broke the horizon and the race began.
Eating honey sticks from a Blount County beekeeper and making water stops along the route, King said he felt great throughout the marathon. He finished the 26.2 miles with a time of 3:04:07, which was good enough to qualify him to run in the famed Boston Marathon alongside some of the best runners in the world.
All the marathons and training these past seven years have prepared King for the race of a lifetime, the Boston Marathon, which he describes as the equivalent to the golfing world’s Masters.
The first Boston Marathon was run April 19, 1897, and was initially 24.5 miles. In 1924, the race was lengthened to just over 26 miles. In 1967, Katherine Switzer became the first female runner to attempt the famed marathon. At that point in history, women weren’t allowed to run the race and she was accosted by other racers along the route. It wasn’t until 1971 that women were permitted to run. The race drew worldwide attention again on April 15, 2013, when two homemade bombs tore through the crowd at the finish line, killing three and injuring hundreds.
For King, Boston is the pinnacle of his running journey, but not necessarily the finish line. What comes after the Boston Marathon? King would like to prepare for the next level in the marathon world, the ultra-marathon (a 100-mile race), and possibly even a triathlon in the distant future.
His drive and competitiveness won’t allow him to just be satisfied with this accomplishment. He said he knows he will never be a professional athlete nor will he win the Boston Marathon, but for King, the satisfaction of doing something he loves, being healthy, and inspiring other young runners is enough.