Hernando County icon Ernie Chatman running strong

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Tue. September 7, 2010 | Izzy Gould | Email

Hernando County icon Ernie Chatman running strong

Ernie Chatman is still running those marathons.

The 60-year-old Hernando County icon completed a personal goal of all 50 states after completing a race in Maui in 2006. Now he's in the midst of running a second 50-state tour taking on his 21st state this weekend with a marathon in Warsaw, Indiana called the Lake City Marathon.

Chatman got turned onto the idea of running through all 50 state when he met a group of marathoners in 1998 in Ocala, who had formed a 50-state running club.

What has changed over the years is Chatman's speed. Once able to tackle a course in as low as three hours, 11 minutes, Chatman, who turns 61 in October, routinely turns in a time above 3:20. He ran his first marathon in Disney in 1995.

This next stretch of marathons will be his toughest yet. Chatman plans to run one a month for 11 months straight, barring any unforeseen obstacles such as injury. At that pace, he hopes to average nine per year and  finish his second 50-state tour in 2013 and no later than 2014.

So what are some notable achievements?

Chatman has run the Boston Marathon four times. He will attempt New York City in March. He also has run in Chicago, Sacramento and Utah.

In terms of the hardest state to tackle, Chatman said, "Utah, no question. You started at 8,100 feet and went down to 1,000 feet. As you're doing it you go down and up hills, and come back."

The easiest? "Cleveland, Ohio in 1999," Chatman said. "Great weather conditions and relatively flat and not a lot of turns."
His favorite? "I'd have to say Boston at the top because of the fan participation," Chatman said. "It seemed like the whole course was lined with people. It just was lined with people. You probably had 10,000 or 15,000."

Chatman continues to coach softball at Hernando Christian Academy, and wears various other hats in the community. He is a member of the Florida Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame, and retired from Hernando High after 36 years.

izzygould@tampabay.com

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