Buzz Porter began running at 15 years old and continues 65 years later.
Buzz Porter began his illustrious running career similar to that of movie character Forrest Gump’s. Collecting on a paper route, neighborhood bullies tried to chase him down to take his pocket of change, but he was just too fast.
It was around that time Porter believed he possessed a running gift, though he never formally trained. His house was located a mile away from his school, so he would always run two miles a day. His life changed when he saw a track runner break the school’s mile record to which he responded, “I can run faster than that.”
Once the coach caught word of this non-track runner’s confident statement, he challenged him, and Porter beat the new record by 16 seconds the following day. He would then go on to run for the school and win a district championship.
After a successful high school career (he was selected to its Hall of Fame a couple years ago), Porter joined Bellarmine College in Louisville, Kentucky as a walk-on. Although most of the cross-country team ran on scholarship, Porter became the No. 1 man, setting course records almost everywhere the team competed.
From there, he joined the Marines for three years and won running events while serving. And, for the last several decades, he’s competed in dozens of events around the country, winning enough events to fill two rooms with ribbons, medals, plaques and trophies.
“My friend Betty’s (Bullington) grandson tried counting them all one day,” Porter said, “but, once he got to 600, he said, ‘I’m done with this.’ I’m pretty sure there are over 1,000 awards.”
So, what has made Porter train at least four days a week for past 65 years? “Winning more gold medals.”
“All of my life, I considered myself nothing — a nobody,” he said. “But, when I walk onto a track, some people pick up their duffel bag and go home. I’d say, ‘Where are you going?’ They’d say, ‘Well, with you here, nobody can win. On the track, I can be somebody.”
The only time Porter didn’t compete was from 2000-2008, when he ended a failed relationship. But after meeting Betty in 2007, he returned to shape – while helping her recover from knee surgery – and began competing and winning again in 2008. This week he’s heading to Greensboro, North Carolina, for the USA Master’s Games, and next week he will make his longest trip yet for the USATF National Masters Combined Events Championships in Seattle, Washington.
When asked if he ever plans to quit, Porter quickly responded with a stern “Never.”
“No matter where I finish in a race,” he said, “I’m still ahead of that guy who’s laying on the couch, pattin’ that beer belly.”
And, even when he eventually dies, Porter wants everyone to remember his competitive nature by reading his tombstone that will say: “You’re still behind me.”
Worth repeating: “No matter where I finish in a race, I’m still ahead of that guy who’s laying on the couch, pattin’ that beer belly.”
DID YOU KNOW? Buzz Porter owns four world track records, which can never be broken, now that those age groups no longer compete at the same lengths.