CHAMPAIGN, ILL - CHAMPAIGN -- The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon is a little more than a month away, and one teacher is finding some unique ways to get in some extra training. But for him this race isn't about winning, because he already won.
With clear skies, unseasonably high temperatures,and a park just down the street from Central High School, physical education teacher Guthrie Hood is taking the show on the road.
"It gets really monotonous if we're running in the gym back and forth. This just gives them an opportunity to open it up a little bit."
His students are getting ready to run a couple laps around Westside Park. But they won't being doing it by themselves. Hood is training for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, and he's doubling up on his training by running with the kids. But getting to this point wasn't "a walk in the park" for him.
"I was a twin and my brother was still born, and his weight on my shoulders forced my weight into my mothers pelvis, and as a result I was born with clubbed feet."
His feet were facing each other and the soles pointed backwards.
"The initial prognosis from the doctors was that I wouldn't be able to walk and that sports were probably out of the question."
After an experimental procedure in Chicago and a year of rehab, Hood was given the green light to experience sports for the first time.
"Got into running because I was just awful at all of the other sports that I tried. I found running as a pursuit instead of just standing still it kind of strengthened my feet."
And that strength would carry him across more than 200 finish lines in both high school and college. But early on, he realized that the only person running against him was himself. It's not about getting a medal or standing on a podium. Personal success mattered most.
"My opportunity to beat other people if you will is to keep running. Those individuals that were beating me in high school, when they didn't compete in college, I found a way to beat them out because I competed in college and those people that stopped running in college. Those people that stopped running after they graduated college it's my opportunity to beat them by continuing to run after I graduated. I kind of think that one of the most overused or misused words in the English language is 'can't.'"
Guthrie Hood is proof that sometimes in life, it's not how you start, but how you finish.
"Not everything is going to be easy, you're not going to find external success but if you can find enjoyment in an activity or a pursuit, that's really the most important thing."
Hood says he still has soreness in his legs after a long run. But the right pair of shoes help ease that pain. He hopes to complete the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in less than four hours.