Jimmie Barnes

I was raised in a small town in Oklahoma, with only 26 in my graduating class. Since we were so small everyone participated in every sport in order to field a team. We had so few out for football we had to scrimmage one side of the line against the other and everyone played both offense and defense. After graduating in 1956 I attended college for one year then joined the Marine Corps in October of 1957. I went through boot camp in San Diego and ITR at Camp Pendleton. I was then assigned to the 7th Communications Bn, at Camp Horno as a Radio Relay Operator. In June of 1959, I was assigned to H&HS1 of 1st Marine Air Wing at Iwakuni Japan. I returned to the States in August of 1960 and received an early discharge to return to college.

I graduated East Central State College in 1962 with a double major in mathematics and physics and then attended graduate school at the University of Oklahoma for two years where I was a graduate assistant in the mathematics department.

I then spent a year as a computer programmer at the Air Forces Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, TN. At the center, the Air Force tested rocket and missile designs in wind tunnels and other facilities. I was there just long enough that I can say I used to be a rocket scientist. In 1964 I moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL where I worked for a company that was developing a new line of computers. In 1968 I married and moved to Melbourne Beach, FL where I became a part owner in a software development company. I first started to run on a regular basis while living on the beach but did no organized running.

In 1972 I started my own company and moved to Birmingham, AL. It was in Birmingham that I first ran in organized races, primarily 10k’s. In 1979 they had the first marathon in Birmingham, and I signed up on a lark completely unprepared. I managed to finish and continued to run marathons for the next 10 years. In September of 1987 my 16-year-old daughter was fatally injured in an automobile accident. I had signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon and was going to cancel but some of my running buddies convinced me to go ahead and run it with them to take my mind off things. We had also signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon, so I ran that with them also. I found that running was helpful in relieving the depression I felt, so I decided to run a marathon every month. The problem with that plan was that at that time it was difficult to find a marathon each month. Therefore, I decided to try running some ultramarathons, the first being Strolling Jim in May 1988. I continued running an ultra or a marathon each month for the next 30 months until I missed a cutoff in a 50-mile run.

I then continued to run marathons and ultras each year until 2002 when I retired, and my wife and I became guardians for our 12-year-old grandnephews. I took a 10-year break from ultras until October of 2013 when they held the 24-hour National Championship in Oklahoma City. I had run in the first National Championship in 1988, and every year thereafter until 2002. I even managed to win my age group one year when the leader stopped with 2 hours to go because his wife was not feeling well. I ran 87 miles at OKC and to my surprise won the 75-79 age group. I was used to running around 100 miles for a 24 hour so did not think 87 miles was very good. However, it turned out it was the best in the world that year according to DUV (http://statistik.d-u-v.org). Since then I have been ranked number 1 in the world every year in either the 24 or 48-hour run. I injured my knee in a trail race in 2014, and since then, due to arthritis, I do very little running, I just walk at a brisk pace for the 24 and 48-hour races I now do. In 2017 I did 161 miles at 3 Days at the Fair and set a new American and World Best Record for the 75-79 age group. I turned 80 in June and since then I have set American records for 12 hours on the track with 46.26 miles and 24 hours on the road with 91.1 miles and 48 hours on the road with 128.7 miles.

Over the years I have run around 200 marathons and ultras with most being ultras. I have run 25-30 races of 100 miles or longer. Some of my favorite races are Vol State which I have run twice – although at shorter distances than it is run at now, the 125 mile Mississippi Levee run that used to be run on the levee from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, a 48 hour run at the Naval Base in Pensacola that was run indoors at the base recreation facility on a 1/8 mile loop, Western States, and the marathons or longer I have run with each of my 3 daughters.

I have made many friends, gotten to compete with many remarkable athletes, and have seen some great performances. No other sport I am aware of allows you to compete with the best in the world. Another amazing thing about this sport is that most runners have their own goals and even while they are competing, they will not hesitate to assist another competitor

Finally, I am grateful that my family supports me in my efforts, especially my wife Deborah who is a world class crew and in demand by other competitors at my events. I plan to continue running/walking as long as I am able, and hope to meet MURCAns at the races I attend.


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