“Wally (Hayes) is one of those guys who has improved with age,” applauds Ann Arbor Track Club 70+ masters team member, Wally Herrala.
“He’s someone you hope to be seated by because he is a humble, interesting, giving person, a great family man, a rugged athlete; I admire him.”
Celebrating fifty consecutive years of running in sixty-four years of honest living, Hayes has earned the respect of many, including his 1966 cross country teammates at Pinckney High School where his running career began.
“I was pretty bad at the start of the season,” Wally admitted.
But with a lot of hard work as “humble,” dedicated athletes are prone to do Hayes achieved number two status by their final meet, and senior year, Hayes was elected captain of his cross country team and co-captain of track, leadership roles which would become
habitual and prove beneficial for the Ann Arbor Track Club.
“Wally has contributed greatly to the success of the AATC not only as a volunteer but as captain of the 60+ men’s USA Track & Field team winning first place three seasons in a row and placing this year as well,” asserted USATF 70+ Masters Team Captain, Malcolm Cohen.
“He is a terrific friend to his team and others who know him.”
Hayes maintains that he enjoys “recruiting runners, selecting teammates for each of the races and bonding the team together,” team results speaking loudly for themselves.
In addition to team captain, Wally is also a valued member of the AATC board of directors and race director, Doug Goodhue’s “number two guy” for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run.
“I virtually consult Wally on all decisions,” Doug professed. “He’s become my operations manager.”
Goodhue added that he has also “leaned on Hayes quite a bit” in managing his responsibilities for the Big House 5K: Trail to the Victors race.
“He’s a good guy and very knowledgeable,” Goodhue continued. “You’ll never hear anyone say anything bad about Wally. He and his wife, Martha, are the kind of friends I want to surround myself with.”
Married 33 years, Hayes acknowledges meeting Martha his proudest achievement.
Also important though a bit further down the list, Hayes prides himself on still being able to run under a six minute mile.
While Hayes has reduced his training mileage over the years in order to stay healthy relative to the natural aging process, the quality of his miles and perspective have remained high, pushing the pace and challenging
runners not even half his age.
AATC treasurer and board member, James Edwards (27), reveals, “During Tuesday night workouts, Wally runs the most consistent splits of anyone in the club. Generally, I try to let Wally set the pace; if I get too far ahead early in the workout, I know he will be catching up to me by the end.”
A testament to what can be as the years progress, Hayes is proof positive that like with many fine wines, age can be a virtue.