Jimmie Johnson may be 43 years old (which, in NASCAR years, is pretty ancient), but he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Literally.
On Tuesday, the seven-time Cup Series champion officially announced that he would be running the Boston Marathon in April, claiming that it’s been a bucket-list item for a long time. Johnson’s training for the event officially began in November, and last Sunday, hours before winning the Clash at Daytona, he placed 14th at the Daytona Beach Half-Marathon with a time of 1 hour, 33 minutes. Not too shabby for the oldest active Cup Series driver.
“Away from the car, there are plenty of goals that occupy my free time,” the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports told NBCSports.com. “Endurance sports is a big part of that.
“Watching the Boston Marathon the year of the bombing (in 2013), something clicked about me wanting to run that race, and once the bombing happened, I wanted to be part of Boston Strong.”
In previous years, the grueling race at Bristol Motor Speedway kept Johnson from competing in the Boston Marathon, but this year, the April 13 race at Richmond Raceway precedes the April 15 marathon. So, at least he’ll get a full day to recover.
“I’m punishing myself for that,” Johnson joked.
Though Johnson has run several half-marathons before, Boston will mark his first marathon. With a weekly training regimen of 70 miles thus far and plans to ramp it up to 100 miles a week through April, Johnson is definitely putting his work in.
“It’s very aggressive,” Johnson said, adding that he’s hoping to clock in at around 3 hours. “A difficult place to get a (personal record).”
“The competitor in me wants to go fast and put up a respectable time.”
Entering the race thanks to an exemption from longtime personal sponsor Gatorade, Johnson is excited about Boston for a number of reasons, particularly when it comes to the opportunity of being around “like-minded people and the energy that comes from such a marquee event.”
“I don’t know what 26.2 (miles) feels like,” Johnson said. “I’ve been to 20 a handful of times already in the training. It takes two days to feel normal again. The challenge of completing the accomplishment, I’m drawn to that stuff. I’d love to see how far I can push myself. We’ll see how it shakes out on April 15.”