Retired professor runs birthday laps on Ahearn Field House track


Since the age of 50, Marvin Hachmeister has run one lap for every year he has been alive at the Ahearn Field House track. This year, he completed 78 laps in one hour, 47 minutes and 20 seconds.

Hachmeister said he started running the laps of his age in 1981, and it’s been something he’s done ever since. The day he does the specific number, however, varies with how he feels.

“I generally like to run between Feb. 9 and March 9 because March 9 is my birthday,” Hachmeister said. “I kind of set it up a week in advance so that the guys I’m running with know they are to be here to run with me.”

Hachmeister, a former K-State professor, taught agricultural education from 1979 to 1989 and biological and agricultural engineering until he retired in 1996.

Hachmeister ran as a student in high school and college, during his time in the Army and while teaching high-school, when he ran with cross country and track students. When he came to K-State in 1979, he said he was getting terrible headaches because he was sitting at a desk all the time and was not active enough.

“I went to my doctor and he said, ‘You need to get more oxygen in your system,’ so I came over to the field house here, and guys were talking about running miles,” Hachmeister said. “I couldn’t run a lap or much more, and it took me about six months to get to where I could run about three or four miles.”

After working his way back up, Hachmeister now tries to run five days a week, usually totaling about 20 miles. He said his doctors think running that amount is too much for him at his age and that it’s hard on his joints. But Hachmeister said his running hasn’t bothered him at all and considers himself very fortunate.

“A lot of runners I used to run with are no longer running,” he said.

Hachmeister said he enjoys running with people and getting to know them, which is one of the reasons he enjoys competing in races.

“I like to run with people because you can set your pace, and you can push each other, and it gives you better training,” he said. “When I run my laps, I line up three people to run with me at different stages of it.”

Chii-Dong Lin, distinguished professor of physics, ran with Hachmeister recently when he did his 78 laps. Lin said he met Hachmeister about 10 to 15 years ago and has looked up to him ever since.

“He’s 78 and is in great shape,” Lin said. “He can out-run most young people.”

Hachmeister said he is built like a runner, so running is natural for him. He ran the one- and two-mile races in high school and was one of only two members on his track team.

“When I got through with track, I had to run home, which was about four-and-a-half miles,” he said, “so I got used to it.”

Hachmeister also volunteers at various track meets because he said it keeps him in touch with young people. He has noticed many changes throughout the year ranging from how runners train to the types of shoes they wear.

“If you look at the old running shoes, they were just a piece of leather with some spikes on them,” he said.

Friends of Hachmeister said they not only look up to Hachmeister because of his running, but also because he is “a good person.”

Rick Scheidt, professor of family studies and human services, said Hachmeister is a “tough guy,” but also a nice person.

“He’s our role model,” Scheidt said.

Hachmeister said he wants to run as long as he’s healthy and can enjoy it.

“Every year I just take it one year at a time,” he said. “I don’t know whether I’m going to do 79 laps next year or not – we’ll see. I’ll do it as long as I feel like I can do it comfortably.”