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MCNINCH: THE WALKING PROFESSOR

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By Patrick Lujan

Professor Ron McNinch is a staple in practically all running events on Guam. Except he walks all the events - putting in over 1000 miles a year on the pavement. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Professor Ron McNinch is a staple in practically all running events on Guam. Except he walks all the events – putting in over 1000 miles a year on the pavement – supply bags in hand. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

He’s done over a dozen marathons and participates in just about every 5K Guam has to offer. But he doesn’t run them.

Ron McNinch, a criminal justice and public administration professor at the University of Guam, is the guy who gets a fairly descent head start ahead of the pack and still brings up the rear. That’s because he’s out for a walk. Forrest runs…Ron walks.

McNinch just finished the inaugural Guam International Marathon. He was first to reach the halfway mark in Sumay, beating out Derek Mandell and the head pack. He also had a two-hour head start. That’s right, he started his marathon at 2 a.m.

“I have a fear of injuring my knees. If I lose enough weight one day I may jog. I have walked long distances all of my life and I have always enjoyed it.”

He was an Infantry Captain in the U.S. Army before an illness forced him out of the service in 1995. Those who know anything about the Army are aware of the miles and miles of road marches.

When he arrived on Guam in 1996, McNinch would walk from UOG to the back gate of Andersen Air Force Base and back or another route from UOG to Micronesia Mall and back.

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McNinch finishes the recent Kick the Fat 5K strong. It’s not about the time, McNinch says, it’s the personal challenge to just finish with a lot of thinking along the way. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

He just started doing organized events four years ago when his young daughter Athena wanted to do the Turkey Trot run. He’s been hooked since.

“I then started studying the sociology of Guam 5Ks, which gave me an added reason to go. I have found some interesting things about them. My daughter then did a science fair project on why people on Guam run 5Ks and her results further made me interested in studying Guam running.”

What the father-daughter research team found out is broken down by age as to why runners on Guam participate in weekend excursions and who started them to run. The survey of 150 runners at two different Saturday mornings turned out to be the following science fair project for Athena:

Under 14-yrs-old: Run 5Ks because their parents mostly take them and 5Ks are fun.

15-35-yrs-old: Run 5Ks with friends and 5Ks are used for physical attractiveness and beauty.

Over-35yrs-old: Run 5Ks with friends/family and 5Ks are related to health and medical fitness.

MENTAL RETREAT

It’s a lot of alone time when one would walk miles and miles. For a man with such intellect, Professor McNinch actually puts that time to good use.

“I do a lot of very deep thinking when I walk, which is one of the things I like about walking. That’s why I walk alone most of the time. I work complex problems that the pure focus, no distraction aspects of the walk provide. I developed the Guam Grown Theory on a walk, I also figure out why certain statistics we gather function in the way they do and then I retest based on the results.” Of course, he’d retest the statistics gathered.

At the halfway point of the recent Guam International Marathon, McNinch stopped to change socks. He shared with GSPN what's in the bag: water, sports snacks, tissue, head lamp, three pairs socks, First Aid items are among the items in his bags. Now we know! (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

At the halfway point of the recent Guam International Marathon, McNinch stopped to change socks. He shared with GSPN what’s in the bag: water, sports snacks, a hat, tissue, head lamp, three pairs of socks, First Aid items are among the items in his bags. Now we know! (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

SO WHAT’S IN THE BAGS?

For anyone who has seen McNinch walk the streets during an event, he always has bags in tow – normally reusable bags that is well equipped. You ever wondered what’s in those bags? GSPN wondered the same thing – and McNinch was happy to share.

“When I walk 5Ks, I carry a small reusable bag in each hand. There is a bottle of water in each — I usually don’t drink the water at the stations for a number of reasons– my car keys, my cell phone, sunglasses, and a walking towel. I also bring 1-2 electrolyte gels just in case someone might need them. On the longer courses, I carry four bottles of water — two in each bag; 3-5 gels; keys, the cell phone, two towels, four plastic garbage bags in case I come across hypothermic runners at the end; some First Aid items and 3-5 packs of tissues. I get asked all the time for them by the runners and they know I have them.”

The stuff in the bag!

The stuff in the bag!

CHALLENGES STILL AHEAD

“The contest is really against myself.”

And that next contest is to walk the Perimeter Relay all by himself…all 48 miles of it within the next year or two.

But the ultimate test he’d like to conquer is the Isle of Man Parish Walk in the U.K.

“My personal Mt. Everest is to complete the Isle of Man Parish Walk held every year. It is 85 miles in 24 hours.”

The miles McNinch has logged so far surely surpasses 1000 and it looks like he’s well on his way toward the next grand.

NOTES: McNinch walks between 25-50 miles a week…he was enlisted in the Army from 1980-83 before getting his commission…he goes through about two pairs of shoes a year…for long runs, he gets a pedicure two days prior to the race.

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