Marvin Herring adhered to a strict running program for the past couple of months, hearing a familiar voice in his head.
As he pounded pavement on distance runs three days a week and shot out of the blocks in sprint work an additional three days per week, Herring heard the unmistakable voice of legendary NSU track coach Walter Ledet.
But it’s not 1957-58 any more, the only year Herring ran at Northwestern State before having to move back to the Dallas area because of illness.
The 79-year-old (turns 80 in October) used Ledet’s words to hold off the field and take the gold medal in the 800 meters at the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama, in June.
Herring, who now lives near Weatherford, Texas, clocked a 3:22.10 — the third-fastest time ever run in the 80-84 age group.
“(Ledet) was the best coach I ever had,” Herring said. “He knew about running and would work with you. I wish I could have run all four years with him.
“I heard Ledet’s voice saying to sprint across that finish line – don’t stop before you get there like most athletes do.”
In the finals, Herring rocketed off the starting line, building a 15-meter lead after running the first 200 meters in 44 seconds.
But the field closed in throughout the remainder of the race, and Herring needed to hit the “sprint button” around the last curve to preserve his first gold medal in his third Senior Games.
Herring was introduced to running in middle school, and chose to attend NSU with his brother Donald. Walking pneumonia caused Marvin to move back to Texas, where he started his real life in the oil industry as a cost construction engineer with major players like Conoco and Mobile.
All of his children were runners, but “the bug” didn’t bite him again until age 39, when he started running 5Ks that stretched into 10Ks and eventually marathons.
“Coach Ledet taught me that – to run through the finish like I was on fire. I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe I had won.”