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Moving ahead with running backward

Staff writer

Winning running medals was not uncommon for Aaron Yoder in high school, but doing it running backward is relatively new. The latest medals were won by him and his family earlier this month at the world championships in retro-running in Bologna, Italy.

Yoder attended Peabody-Burns through fifth grade. He transferred to Hillsboro when his father became elementary principal there. He graduated from Hillsboro High School in 2004 after setting records in the regular 1500m, 800m, mile, and cross-country.

Requests for interviews, including from CNN and Wall Street Journal, have been coming left and right since Yoder; his parents, Evan and Becki Yoder; and his twin brother, Daniel, returned home.

All four family members competed well, collectively setting two world records and earning four gold medals and eight silver medals.

“It is great to represent my hometown and tell people where I’ve been,” he said. “It definitely was a great experience and a great honor.”

Yoder said his most exciting event was the 400-meter dash, in which he and his brother competed. His brother beat him, but they both broke the world record.

“I did it as a warm-up for the 800-meter, and it was one of the greatest races of the world championships,” he said.

He went on to finish first in the 800, 1500, and marathon.

Although he was excited to earn gold medals, he said the gold standard of medals is the Guinness Book of World Records. Being listed in it three times in retro running means more to him than winning gold at a world track meet.

Yoder is listed for achieving records in the mile, 1000, and 4x400 meter relay.

He is awaiting ratification of a world record in the 200, which he ran last year at Bethany College, Lindsborg, where he is beginning his ninth year as track and cross country coach.

He said the paperwork that is required to be in Guinness book was voluminous and could take a year or more to be approved.

“They look at it extensively and in depth,” he said. “When I get those records, it is more satisfying because it is official. Kids can see it in the book, and it means something. It’s a way of protecting your hard work.”

Yoder got involved in retro running two years ago in a race at Manchester, Connecticut. He did a fun run, and then it became serious.

Family members got involved after they traveled with him in 2016 when he competed in the world championships in Germany.

“All of my family are runners, and I told them they should do this, too,” he said.

They took it seriously. They started training last year for the 2018 world championships, and it paid off.

Daniel placed first in the 400, and second in the 800, 1500, and 4x400. Yoder’s mother, Becki, placed second in the 400, 800, and 1500. His father, Evan, qualified for finals in the 400.

Yoder practices on a track and a treadmill.

He still has the treadmill he got as a middle school student at Hillsboro. It didn’t go very fast, so he raised the incline as high as possible and ran on it backward.

“I did it to become a better forward runner,” he said. “It was something to do on the side for fun.

“I saw that treadmill in the milk house at home the other day and pulled it out. It really was slow. It’s an antique collectors’ item now.”

The family already is planning to go to the next world championships in 2020 in France.

Yoder hopes to break his own record in the mile this fall.

“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” he said.

Last modified July 26, 2018

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