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82-year-old Elyria man to run Cleveland Marathon for 42nd time

Jim Mackert is also the oldest runner registered for this year's 26.2 mile race.

ELYRIA, Ohio — Jim Mackert is no spring chicken. 

He's an 82-year-old marathon runner. But not just one marathon. The legacy runner has run 65. And, he's the oldest person running 26.2 miles in this year's Rite-Aid Cleveland Marathon.

Crossing that finish line in May means that Mackert is the only person to have competed in all 42 of Cleveland's marathons. It also means he ran 1,729 miles throughout his marathon career.

We sat down with him to ask him how he does it.

"Determination. Desire. I enjoy it, I enjoy the people that I see there," the father of six said.

We joined Mackert for a training session in the Black River Reservation. He ran up a trail path hill nine times. I tried to keep up, but it was tough going up just once!

Mackert is a master. Not just with running. He's mentally tough as nails, which has propelled him to push through injuries to qualify for the Boston Marathon three times.

"When I went in 2007, I was 70 years old and training. I pulled a muscle running the hills over doing my hill workout," he explained. "I said I was going up no matter how my leg felt."

And, he did.

These days, Mackert racks up about 40 miles a week. He was, however, getting attention long ago, even appearing on Channel 3 back in 2000 with Jimmy Donovan when he was 63 and gearing up for his 23rd Cleveland Marathon.

Running has pulled Mackert through some of his darkest hours. His brother, a priest in Cleveland, passed away during one race. And as Mackert ran by his brother's church, the bells rang on cue. A wink, perhaps, from beyond.

"And I just cried. It was very, very touching," he said.

Mackert has no plans to slow down. He says he's fueled by his family, while inspiring others on his path.

"I feel good doing it. And as long as I feel good doing it, I try to keep doing it," Mackert said.

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