In 2013, Biology professor, Kevin Jones was not happy with how he looked. He was overweight. Actually, Jones says it was beyond that. “I was fat.” Through a totally self-imposed, independent motivation, he decided to reinvent his lifestyle and lose 100 pounds. In addition to changing his eating habits, Jones began to run. He ran and ran and ran. In six months, he lost 100 pounds. He hit his goal, but in losing the weight, he also discovered something else. Jones loves to run, and he is piling-up the miles.
Science people like to keep data. If you’re curious how many miles he’s put on his sneakers through the years, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s the breakdown:
2014 - 2,250 miles
2015 - 2,100 miles
2016 - 2,017 miles
The professor runs during the week on campus, mostly on the track. Before class, he’ll log five to 12 miles. “It’s cathartic. Sometimes I pray or commune with nature. Some days I let my mind go and think of nothing,” says the 62-year-old Jones. “I plan my day around it, but it doesn’t interfere with my life.”
Jones is retired from the Navy and retired from teaching high school, as well. He’s hardly retired from running. He once resented taking a day off, but has come to understand that’s allowed from time to time. Though it was a means to an end, initially, this is now a lifestyle decision. He no longer eats fast food, white starch or sweeteners.
In the last three years, he’s discovered something else he likes. Jones is now an ultra-marathoner. An ultra-marathon is an event that covers 30 miles or more. These races are conducted through day and night hours and the course might be through a forest or along a hiking trail. The longest distance Jones has run is 55 miles. The amount of time it takes is irrelevant. “I’m running against me,” says Jones. “I win by the fact that I run. The clock is not important, it’s all about the miles.”
In January, the professor will attempt a 100-mile event through the Francis Marion forest. His wife is supportive and sometimes volunteers at the water stations.
Jones admits that this new-found love of running is part of who he is. Often, when on campus, he’ll run with students or ROTC cadets. Back in 2013, his students were reluctant to comment on his weight-loss. They didn’t know about his running; they thought he was sick.
“I love my students. I love what I do and I love where I’m doing it.”
Jones puts about 500 miles on a pair of running shoes. Instead of tossing them to the curb, he donates them to various charitable organizations.
His doctor is amazed at his health. All of the vitals are indicative of a man much younger. “I’ll keep going until I can no longer do it,” declares Jones. What started as a self-imposed desire to lose weight, has become a lifestyle race with no specific finish line.