Mr. Jimmy Moore smoked cigarettes much of his adult life. He didn’t start running until he was 57.
It happened one day when he was out taking a walk with his wife, Eva Moore, in their small Mississippi town. For no particular reason that he can remember, Mr. Jimmy felt an urge to pick up the pace. A friend drove by and shouted out the car window, “Hey, Jimmy! I didn’t know you took up jogging!” Mr. Jimmy had never heard of “jogging.” He would have called it “trotting.” He was “trotting” in his hunting boots.
Mr. Jimmy’s first race was a year later, a 5K. His next race was a marathon. He has clocked enough miles to circle the globe. For his 75th birthday, Mr. Jimmy attempted to run 75 miles, from his birthplace in Yazoo City, Mississippi to his wife’s grave in their hometown, Crystal Springs. He made it 56 miles before the blisters got him. For his 80th birthday, he attempted 80 kilometers. I had the privilege of filming the event and his preparation for it.
The making of the film, MR. JIMMY’S BIRTHDAY CHALLENGE, was similarly a marathon, not a sprint. A lot of living happened along the way, for both Mr. Jimmy and me. In the lulls, my own running dropped off. But during each spurt of shooting, editing, and sending Mr. Jimmy’s story out into the world, my running has picked back up — or been resurrected from non-existence. He has probably added days to my life, literally.
But Mr. Jimmy gives me far more than mere longevity — he gives me a road map for how to live a meaningful existence. As he says in reflection at the end, “I think it prepares you for dying, for leaving this world, because it helps you realize you can enjoy life right up to the end.”
This blog will be a record of reflections on running and life inspired by Mr. Jimmy. I know his influence runs deep and wide. If you know Mr. Jimmy, whether in person or through the film, please share your stories of how Mr. Jimmy has inspired you in the Comments section below.