Running is nothing new to Mooresville's Kenny Hazlett.
“I’ve been running most of my life,” he said.
Later this week, he’ll be pounding the pavement on a national scale as he competes in the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Hazlett, 52, began his winning ways as a runner on the AAU level when he was 13. By the time he was in high school, he set two state records and won at the state tournament. His prowess with his feet earned him a partial college scholarship.
After a couple of semesters in college, he decided to move into an ROTC program and served in the military after graduation.
Throughout his life, Hazlett, a sports marketing account director, has continued running on a periodic basis.
A career, marriage and a set of twin daughters didn’t deter his love of running, although it did make it take a back seat, Hazlett admitted. “Life happens,” he said.
But even with a full set of responsibilities, Hazlett said, he still tried to find time for running. He involved his daughters, now 21. “It gave the three of us something to do,” he said.
His serious competition was curtailed by day-to-day life, Hazlett said.
Two years ago, upon hitting the age of 50, Hazlett decided to get back into running on a more serious basis, and took on a unique challenge – a race that relied on a series of qualifying runs.
Not just open to military personnel or retirees, the race provided Hazlett with the challenges he said he needed to get back into top form. “It was some really good competition,” he said.
Hazlett faced the possibility of having to drop out of the competition about midway through when he developed two blood clots in his left calf. Hazlett said the cause was never pinpointed but he underwent what he termed aggressive treatment. And just a few days from the next race, the clots disappeared and he was given the OK to continue the challenge.
With competitive running back in his blood, Hazlett learned about the Senior Games, and set his sights on them. He finished as a master’s male champion. “I’m really proud of that,” he said.
Beginning Friday, he’s putting that title on the line in a series of races over a week. He’ll be running in the 400 meter, 800 meter, 5K and 10K races. There will be 20 medal spots up for grabs.
Hazlett said he hopes to bring home a medal but he is also happy to be sharing his love of running.
“I love to be competitive,” he said. “Besides the physical benefits, it’s good for me mentally. “
The National Senior Games begin Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.