RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As thousands prepare for the Richmond Marathon on Saturday, one Henrico man is taking the time to reflect on the people who’ve helped him complete the past 29.
This year’s race marks Bill Draper’s 30th Richmond marathon. He says each one is better than the last.
“There was a time in my life I ran 75 miles a week,” Draper said. “I’m 67 years old now. I don’t do that.”
But that’s not the point. All those Richmond races combined is like running the distance from the River City to New York and back - twice.
He’s run dozens of other races - even some 50-milers. Draper’s joints are now inflamed, and he anticipates taking six hours or so to walk this race, but that’s OK to him.
“I’ll enjoy that more than my best (race),” he said. The Henrico native’s love of running started with his wife Deedee.
She suggested they start to stay in shape in their 20s. Starting off, Draper said, he did everything wrong.
“The farthest I’d ever run was 12 miles and I thought I was ready,” Draper explained. “At 18 miles I just laid down on the road.”
Fast forward a bit and you could say jogging runs in the family.
The Draper daughters have all run in Saturday races, and they all started around 5 years old. Draper says he ran each of his daughter’s first 5k and 10ks with them.
Not long ago, a back injury threatened marathoning as a team.
Draper said three doctors told him he’d never been able to run again and there was a time there was one less Draper on the road.
“It was really lonely,” Deedee remembered. The Drapers say it’s Bill’s optimism that not only kept them going, but also brought about his miracle marathon.
“I ran the last 6 miles with splints, but basically I was getting faster every minute,” Draper said.
“I think when I saw Deedee and the girls, they were surprised I was smiling,” he explained.
“(We have chased) him all over Richmond with Advil, trying to take care of him but he will never give up,” the eldest Draper daughter, Shannon Grymes, said.
Now a member of the marathon training team, Bill Draper’s superpower is motivating others.
“I just haven’t met anybody who does it like my dad,” said Erin Reid, the middle Draper daughter.
While others gawk at the distance left until the finish line, Bill’s approach is different.
“Dad’s way of viewing it is, 'Only sevent blocks before next water stop,” Grymes said.
Draper pushes others, all while taking photos of his Richmond runs, sending them to NBC12 and trekking on.
Check out some of his submissions below:
“How long I can do it, I don’t know,” he said, “but I’ll do it as long as I can.”