In it for the long run at 74

Howell resident Dave Dugger, 74, says he typically follows the same route in his morning run in training for the Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Marathon.
Dave Dugger stretches against the front porch of his home in Howell before putting in his morning mileage as he prepares for an upcoming race. / GILLIS BENEDICT

Dave Dugger said he “generally does pretty well” when he runs marathons because there aren’t many runners in his age group.

A young 74, Dugger still beat his children, grandchildren and a great-grandson when they dared to challenge him in the 2012 Fantasy of Lights 5K (3.1-mile) run the day after Thanksgiving.

“This is my second running career,” he said. “I got promoted in 1987 or 1988, and didn’t have time to put the miles in. I started again about four years ago. …

“There’s a few guys out there a lot faster than I am,” Dugger added.

Dugger most recently competed in the Bay Shore marathon in Traverse City, and he ran the 1984 Boston Marathon after earning a qualifying time in the Detroit Free Press marathon that year. He is currently training for his sixth Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Marathon, which will be held Oct. 20.

The Indiana native was not much of a runner growing up. He ran track for Noblesville High School, where he’s a member of the Class of 1956, because his football coach also served as the track coach.

It was in high school he met his future bride, Alwilda; they have been married for “oh, forever,” Dugger said. It’s been 55 years, his wife said in the background.

After high school, Dave Dugger entered Purdue University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He worked for Detroit Diesel for about 44 years, leaving for a few years in 1973. He returned to Detroit Diesel, where he retired in 2000, when a friend said the company was looking for employees and it was that second stint at the company that brought Dave Dugger and his family to Livingston County.

“Howell mirrors Noblesville,” he said.

It was at Detroit Diesel that co-workers invited Dave Dugger to join their running team.

“Everyone was doing running back then,” he said. “I said I’d give it a try. I like the solitude and getting outside. I run all year round. People ask if I have a treadmill in the winter. No. I just run outside, even in temperatures as low as zero degrees.”

Dave Dugger said his running time can be used for “thinking time or not thinking time.” He typically runs through his neighborhood, down Sibley Street in Howell, or on Grand River Avenue. His runs allow him to see many people, whom he waves at whether they’re strangers or friends.

He currently averages 25 miles a week, but he wants to increase that to 40 miles a week. His goal, he said, is to get his time in the Free Press marathon under 4 hours so he can once again qualify for the Boston Marathon, which he calls “the Super Bowl of the running world.”

“There’s everyone there you’ve read of in magazines,” Dave Dugger explained. “I’d like to go back, but I have to get my marathon (time) down.”

He ran the Traverse City marathon in 5.5 hours, which was a little disappointing, he said.

When Dave Dugger isn’t running, he enjoys staying active through volunteer work in the community. He serves as treasurer at his local church and has been a trustee on the Howell library board for 10 years. He also is president of the Pregnancy Help Clinic board.

Dave Dugger also looking forward to 2014, when he will cash in his Father’s Day present and join his family at Walt Disney World, where two of his daughters, two granddaughters, and a great-grandson will challenge him in the Princess Half Marathon.

“They say they’re going to beat me,” he said.


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