75 Year Old Runs Across America For Charity

Thursday, May 8th 2008, 5:21 pm
By: News On 6

Once a Marine, always a Marine.  And, 75-year-old Tom Knoll is tougher than most.  The former gunnery sergeant is running from San Diego to Washington D-C, more than 3,000 miles in 4 months, to raise money for charity.  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports Oklahoma is the halfway mark.

This is actually the second time he's run across the country for charity.  The last time was in 1983.  This time, he's brought along his son for the journey.  Tom Knoll started running out of necessity.

"Went to Ranger School, Navy Scuba School, Marine Mountain Climbing School.  And, those are all physical, demanding schools with a lot of running," said Tom Knoll.  "And now, it's a pleasure."

He didn't invent running, but he was one of the 15 people who took part in the first ever Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii in 1978.

"I'm from Hawaii, and the running really picked up in the 1970's in Hawaii, became the running capital of the world for awhile," said Tom Knoll.

So what's a little jog across country?

The first time, he was a youngster at age 50.  He says this time is actually easier, because he's taking it slow, just 30 miles a day, although it did get off to a rough start.

"Injuries? There's no injuries except for the first day, I tripped over some cement and 25 stitches here. First day, no problems since," said Tom Knoll.

His son, Warren, also an accomplished athlete, talked his dad into making another charity run.

"It's a crazy feat.  30 miles a day, no matter how you slice it and dice it, if you do it in 5 mile increments, 10 mile increments;  it's still a lot of mileage," said Warren Knoll.

Actually, if anybody's feeling pressure to keep going, it's the son.

"Oh yeah, I don't have an excuse," said Warren Knoll.

As if the run isn't tough enough, Knoll still works in military intelligence and is listening to audio books during the run.

"I'm studying Hindi, which is Urdu, because of the possibility of going back to Iraq.  I keep my mind pretty busy, what's left of it," said Tom Knoll.