As Tom Huberty prepared for this year's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, he trained his body as well as his mind.
"I've been running the marathon in my head — having a visualization," he said ahead of Sunday's 26.2-mile race in Minneapolis and St. Paul. "I know all the mileposts; part of the course is 2 miles from my house so I've been practicing on that."
And he knows the race well from having it run it — many, many times. Huberty, 67, of Minneapolis, is one of the few runners to have completed every Twin Cities Marathon. But for the 37th running of the race, he faced a greater challenge.
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Huberty was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005, and it returned this year. His chemotherapy treatments wrapped up in June.
"I just know as a result of running, I was better equipped to deal with disease," he said.
The cancer and chemotherapy "really knocked me but again, (but) the long history of fitness allowed me to sustain the assault on my body and I still kept walking, running — a couple miles a day."
Huberty is hopeful he'll reach remission.
"This wasn't going to beat me. I can't say on the radio the way I phrased it," he said, laughing, "but my gang and I know my phrasing of the way I wanted to deal with this cancer."
Huberty's running is also driven by a long-standing desire to honor his brother. Huberty grew up the oldest of seven children in Hastings; his brother Terry Huberty was killed while running in 1978, when he was struck by a car.
Tom Huberty has since completed more than 100 marathons in 32 states.He even started a consulting company using his passion to help people "run" better businesses.
"It's a sense of challenge, sense of accomplishment," he said of running. "I wrote a tips booklet called '26.2 Tips to Win Your Business Marathon.'"
The marathon running has gotten harder over the years. Huberty is now a grandpa with gray hair and a few more pounds on him than he used to carry.
"My joke is I'm hauling a lot of groceries to the finish line these days," he said. "Those young skinny runners can get it done in four hours, and I'm taking almost six hours to run it."
No matter how long it takes, Huberty's wife Elizabeth Watkins, always meets him near the halfway point on race day — at East 32nd Street and West River Parkway, near their home.
He was focused on the finish line on the State Capitol grounds in St. Paul when he passed by on Sunday.
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"That's all I have to do, I have to finish. I just have to finish at the Capitol," he said during a pause on the course. "It's a long day at the office (but) I'll get her done."
And he did get it done, running and walking, Huberty finished the race in 6 hours, 14 minutes, 21 seconds — his focus now turning to the 2019 Boston Marathon, where he plans to compete for the first time alongside a group of other cancer survivors.
"I think one of the things that keeps me going is my personal mission statement and that clearly is to work well and play well with God's other children," he said. "And if there's somebody that takes a little inspiration from my path, hallelujah."