By Jack Kintner
As he energetically broke a symbolic tape held by family and friends last Thursday, Semiahmoo resident Trevor Hoskins completed a goal he’s had in front of him for the past 39 years – running 50,000 miles.
“That’s twice around the world,” said the affable Hoskins, 80, adding that it all began after having celebrated a raucous Fourth of July in Akron, Ohio. Forty-one at the time and recently arrived from his native England, he and two friends committed to the lofty goal of running that distance over the next four decades.
Two weeks later he was the only one of the three still running, and he’s never stopped, averaging over 3.5 miles a day every day since Ford was president and Lowell Thomas was still on the radio.
With Shackleton-like tenacity Hoskins kept at it year after year, never missing a day because of weather, documenting every step in notebooks and later with digital equipment on his wrist. Those records and his shelves full of trophies won in various races attest to his decades of dedication to what he describes as a lonely but rewarding project.
The son and grandson of men who served and gave their lives for Britain in two world wars, the Royal Air Force veteran was already used to hard work and self-discipline.
Hoskins described an incident one winter in Akron, Ohio, his home for 18 years while working for Goodyear. “My running partner and I saw this guy out shoveling snow, struggling, red in the face, and he stopped and told us we were crazy to be running in the snow. I told him, ‘No, you’re crazy to be working that hard. We’ll shovel your walk for you.’ And we did!”
Another snowy day saw Hoskins suffer one of his very few injuries, a broken nose when he slipped on the ice and fell against a curb. That and a couple of sprained ankles were Hoskins’ only injures in what’s now almost four decades of running. He’s still on his original knees but he’s had to replace 59 pairs of running shoes.
As Goodyear’s director of international public relations, and later senior vice-president of public affairs for Bridgestone after they acquired Firestone, he spent much of his time traveling, flying all over the world.
“One day they told me that I could also handle their international racing interests,” Hoskins said. “I said I was too busy already but they said not to worry, that all the racing was on weekends!”
These weekends were at Formula 1 races and other events in countries from Argentina and Australia to Zimbabwe and Zaire (now the Congo), plus many Indianapolis 500 races as well as other stops on the domestic IndyCar circuit.
As a confirmed car guy and racing fan, Hoskins says he loved the rigorous schedule, getting to know well such luminaries as Mario Andretti and Jackie Stewart, with whom Hoskins is still in contact. Representing those companies made him as important to auto racing as a Nike rep is at an international track meet, and he formed many lasting friendships.
Along with and sometimes in spite of his hyperactive professional career, he continued running wherever he found himself, logging miles in 47 different countries to which his work took him. Hoskins has been stopped and held at gunpoint in Turkey and in Ireland (luckily, he said, by a British soldier), and had rocks thrown at him in Colombia, but he has also been encouraged in many places, often using the race car tracks he attended for work as a safe and private place to run at oh dark 30 in the morning.
His notes show that over the years he’s run six 26.2-mile marathons, 20 13.1-mile half marathons and numerous 10K, 5K, 10-mile and 5-mile races and runs, often finishing in the money if not winning outright for his age group. He ran his last full marathon in Victoria 16 years ago, and won his last competitive race, a 10K (6.2 miles), six years ago in Bellingham.
Hoskins, the same weight today as when he began in 1976, 174 pounds, is still running, having put 13,000 miles on the clock in the 13 years he’s lived in Semiahmoo. “I’ve put all those miles almost exclusively on the local trail through Semiahmoo and Birch Bay known as the Coast Millennium Pathway,” he said, “and I know every rock and root. The thing needs work, so much so that pedestrians are beginning to walk in the roadway.”
The politically active Hoskins is sure to make his voice heard on that and other local issues with the energy of a man half his age. “I like Christopher McDougall’s line in his book ‘Born to Run’: ‘You don’t stop running when you get old, you get old when you stop running.’”