Image Loading...

David Horton

While you are reading, a 1 minute segment of David's favorite song "Runner" by Twila Paris will be loading. Then it will play automatically (provided you have the proper software and hardware) just once. Enjoy it!

The brief biographical sketch below is taken from the Foreward in the book, A Quest for Adventure

David Horton grew up in rural Arkansas, one of three children born to Ezra and Lois Horton. Attending elementary school in Marshall, Arkansas, David's childhood days were filled with a mix of studies, farming chores, hunting, and fishing. High school found him a member of the basketball team and the quarterback for the football team, despite his lean frame. But I am told that even in those early, formative years, David was a young man filled with a passion and drive for life, athletics being an important part of that life. He always wanted to be the best and worked hard to achieve that end.

It was that same incentive that took David to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas. College to David was like freedom is to a prisoner. The nickname of "wild man" soon became his trademark as he enjoyed and perhaps even abused his newfound autonomy. He met and married Nancy Paladino in 1971 and discovered the pressures that multiple roles such as student, husband, and provider produced. However, he was a hard working student and disciplined himself through bachelors (1972) and then masters degrees in education (1973), math and physical education being his selected teaching fields.

The next phase of his life found him in the teacher/coach mold as he took a teaching position in Bee Branch, Arkansas at Southside High School. His intensity was found in the classroom as well as on the basketball court. In fact, in those days, his intensity was just a little too much as far as the referees were concerned! But no one could dare claim that he was devoid of zest. He loved to teach and was naturally gifted in that area. However, after three years of secondary education, higher education soon beckoned him to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, home of the Razorbacks. So, with his wife and two kids by his side, he completed his doctorate of education in 1978.

Not only were those years in Fayetteville important educationally, it was there that a professor urged his students to "practice what you preach". That is, to teach about fitness is not reasonable without living out fitness. Striking a cord in David's mind, he hit the streets with his running shoes on. At first, running wasn't exactly loads of fun. In fact, it was tiring and hard work. But that did not stop him. In 1979, having moved to Lynchburg, Virginia to teach at Liberty University, he chose the JFK 50 Miler in nearby Boonsboro, Maryland to test the waters of ultra-running. He placed 24th in a time of 7:43:16. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In the ensuing years, David has been relentless in his pursuit of excellence. As of January 1998, he has over 110 ultra race starts, 100 finishes, and 38 wins. His cumulative mileage exceeds 70,000 miles. And as a contributor to the sport, he has served as the race director of the well-known Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail Race, the Blue Ridge Odyssey multi-day event, and the new Holiday Lake 50 K Race. Additionally, it has been his encouragement and training example that has encouraged many a would-be ultra runner into actually becoming one. This author speaks from personal experience.

It is possible that there are others that have made parallel accomplishments. However, David's vision and quest for adventure sets him apart from the crowd. Hidden in the dry statistics of 110 ultra starts, are two very significant events that arguably represent additional 116 ultras. (Since an "ultra" is technically any race over the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles, each of the 116 days of David's "quests" was an ultra.)

In 1991, Horton set foot on Springer Mountain in Georgia to begin chasing the Appalachian Trail speed record, which stood at 62 days. Fifty-two days, nine hours, and 42 minutes later, David stood atop yet another mountain, Katahdin, in Maine. His relentless pursuit of the record carried him over 2144 miles of trail, solitude and isolation being his constant companions. But despite the grueling nature of the feat, another dream of adventure and challenge was growing even before the realization of his accomplishment had set in.

June of 1995 found Horton standing not on a mountain but on a beach, Huntington Beach, California at the outset of another ultra; an ultra that consisted of 64 straight days of vicious racing against the world's best that comprised a total of 2906 miles. After the 64th day of racing over desert, mountains, flatlands, hill, and dale, Horton would be owner of the third fastest time ever in the world for the transcontinental crossing.

This book attempts to let the reader experience through the written word the essence of each of these journeys. You will be struck by the enormity of these tasks. You may even cry in relating to David's many times of utter despair and desolation. But then you will rejoice at the high points, the times of athletic excellence, and the times of philosophical and spiritual breakthrough. Forrest Gregg once said of Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the gridiron, that "He made us realize that if the mind is willing, the body can". David lived those words.

Catch the vision and live the dream!

  Rebekah Trittipoe

Back to Authors

Rebekah Trittipoe Bio

Back to Quest Main Page