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The 10,000 mile man: Hanegan reaches 5-year exercise goal

On January 17, 2014 Ralph Hanegan reached his five-year fitness goal of 10,000 miles. Yes, you read right, 10,000 miles.

Hanegan began his ambitious fitness journey in May 2009 and kept meticulous records of his progress. Most of the miles logged, he states, were running/walking or biking on the Longleaf Trace, and that he has become rather fluent in Spanish after listening to more than a thousand hours of lessons, is a side benefit.

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight — Ralph Hanegan completed a 10,000 mile journey running, walking and cycling in a five year period. Most of Hanegan’s miles were logged in on the LongLeaf Trace. His son and grandchildren joined him on some of his runs. His logbook has become a scrapbook of memories as well.

Shirley Burnham / The Prentiss Headlight — Ralph Hanegan completed a 10,000 mile journey running, walking and cycling in a five year period. Most of Hanegan’s miles were logged in on the LongLeaf Trace. His son and grandchildren joined him on some of his runs. His logbook has become a scrapbook of memories as well.

A spreadsheet with daily, monthly and a grand total to see where he had progressed helped him stay on track. Hanegan says he ran in over 50 5K running events, stating he tried to always come in first in his age group, and usually did.

A long-term committee member of Run for the Roses and the Birthday Challenge, Hanegan reports about 70 percent of his exercise was accomplished in jogging or running and about 15 percent each in biking or walking. His average distance in a run was six miles, in a walk eight miles and in a biking session 22 miles “Seeing these results written down was a motivator in itself,” says Hanegan.

There were some rough times during his quest, and Hanegan is grateful to Longleaf Trace maintenance man Jim Harper who rescued him after tire blowouts. He had a few accidents and injuries and a bout with plantar fasciitis that kept him from walking or jogging for three months but he just grins and says, “It didn’t keep me off my bike, though.”

“Staying in shape is a part of being a Marine,” states the 65-year old who served his country for 24 years. “Any aerob ic exercise is good for the heart and gives more energy. For me, it makes me feel full of life.”

He does admit his biggest disappointment has been the days there was no one else on the Trace but him. “We are the most unhealthy state and at the bottom when it comes to healthcare delivery. We’re at the top of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Exercise goes a long way to take care of those problems. I still weigh what I did when I retired from the Marines and have no blood pressure problems. I simply love it!”

Those miles logged in by Hanegan have not only benefited his body and mind but also our wounded warriors. Hanegan explains you can choose your own charity by downloading the Charity Miles App on your smartphone, and for every mile logged, a corporate partner will donate a set amount to the charity of your choice.

In September 2013 Hanegan missed three weeks of exercising while he was in Atlanta for cancer surgery. He was told not to do any biking for the next two years, so he settled for walking. In November and December he could only walk a short distance at a time due to side effects of radiation treatments but that still did not stop this determined man from reaching his goal early.

Hanegan encourages us to join him on the Trace and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. He does not plan to rest on his laurels but has already set his goal for the next five years at 5,000 miles stating, “It’s time to train for the Run for the Roses. Come join me!”