It’s too bad that Hall of Fame track coach Tom Evans didn’t get a chance to coach Ken Thompson when he was an electrical engineering student at The University of Akron. Perhaps Evans could have tapped into Thompson’s interest in long distance running to the benefit of the Zip's track program. As it turned out, Thompson, a 1956 UA graduate, waited until he was 50 before launching a career of running in marathons, ultra marathons and any other long distance running event he could find.
Thompson has run in at least 180 marathons, including three in each of our 50 states and on all seven continents. In some circles Thompson might be considered “crazy” for he has ran 80 miles on Alaska’s Iditarod Trail, pulling a sled with survival gear in February with the wind chill at a minus 65 degrees. He has run 157 miles across Death Valley in temperature of 123 degrees, melting four pairs of shoes in the process. He has ran 100 miles in Nepal to the base camp of Mount Everest, did a six-day run across the Sahara Desert and has climbed 20,000 foot Mount Kilimanjaro and the next morning ran a marathon with Kenyans and Tanzanians.
Arriving on a Russian Icebreaker, Thompson has run in the only marathon ever organized on Antarctica, did another on the Great Wall of China and in the “longest” marathon in Bordeaux, France. Why is it the longest? “Because of all the wine served along the course, caused the runners to weave back and forth along the trail,” said a smiling Thompson.
Kenneth H. Thompson received the Phil Dietrich Senior Athlete Award in 2013.