66-year-old runs Route 66: This is his simple fitness routine
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66-year-old runs Route 66: This is his simple fitness routine

Extreme sports in retirement? No problem, thinks German Hubert Karl. He competes in marathons and is currently running along Route 66 in the USA. (Symbolic image)

Extreme sports in retirement? No problem, thinks German Hubert Karl. He competes in marathons and is currently running along Route 66 in the USA. (Symbolic image)
Aleksandar Nakic/getty images

66-year-old Hubert Karl from Lower Franconia is walking along Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles for 66 days.

The pensioner is an extreme athlete and already holds a world record in the ultramarathon.

In addition to his training, he pays attention to a local and seasonal diet of fruits and vegetables, which are known for their longevity effects.

Hubert Karl has big plans: Shortly after his 66th birthday, the fitness coach from Zeil am Main in Franconia got on a plane and headed to Chicago. From there he started his adventure: for 66 days he walked along Route 66 to Los Angeles, 4,000 kilometers across the USA.

Karl jogs 60 kilometers every day along the side of the legendary highway. His wife and brother accompany him in their motorhome, as he said in a report on the regional broadcaster TV Rheinfranken. The senior citizen is currently crossing the state of New Mexico. He has left the state’s capital, Santa Fe, behind him after almost 40 stages.

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The senior has covered 200,000 kilometers jogging – he also holds a world record in the ultramarathon

“I’m currently running on the interstate highway towards Albuquerque – forced to because there is no other road,” he calls into the front camera of his smartphone on Friday, day 37 of the extreme run. In the background, large trucks rush past Karl on the highway. The sun beats down on his face. “I have to be extremely careful,” he adds in the video that he shares on his Instagram channel.

Karl lives for running. According to the information on his personal website, the qualified running therapist has covered almost 200,000 kilometers in his life, competed in over 700 competitions and run over 132 ultramarathons, which exceed the usual marathon distance of around 42.2 kilometers. He has already mastered the 246-kilometer Spartathlon in Greece 25 times and thus holds a world record. To honor him for this achievement, the German Ultramarathon Association even honored him as Senior Athlete of the Year 2023.

He prepared for his America day program for three months, initially running 80 kilometers a week from December and training twice a week with special strength training for his knees, core and back. From January he increased his performance to up to 130 kilometers a week and by mid-February he had completed seven marathons in eight days, according to his own account.

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Karl’s fitness tip: seasonal vegetables from his own garden

He reports on his homepage and on social media that nutrition always plays an important role. Karl regularly starts his day “with a glass of nettle water to counteract nighttime fluid loss and to detoxify.” He then has a breakfast of “seed porridge that gives me the necessary macro, micro and vital substances.”

Basically, to achieve his sporting goals, he relies on a so-called “primal diet” from his own garden. This provides him with vital nutrients in a natural way: from May to September he likes to eat strawberries, currants, jostaberries, raspberries and blackberries, from August grapes, in autumn butternut squash and in winter carrots and kohlrabi leaves.

His standard repertoire includes nettles, which provide vitamins A and E, as well as iron and protein, and garlic. Eating garlic prevents vascular changes. Kale is also on Karl’s menu, especially in winter – it also provides vitamins, calcium and iron.

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Karl’s local and seasonal diet is based primarily on fresh fruit and vegetables and is similar to the Mediterranean diet. This is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world and is considered a tip for longevity.

Karl still has 1,460 kilometers to go before he reaches the Santa Monica pier on the Pacific. In theory, he will then have circumnavigated the world five times in his entire life.


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