Emory Clark has a thing for jogging. And for his beloved home town of Clark Fork, Idaho.
On Saturday, the emotions will literally run together in the first Wampus Cats Marathon, the brainchild of a man who’s had quite a few in his 77 years.
Clark, a former juvenile probation officer who lives in Airway Heights, is perhaps better known as the inventor of the Swring, a ringed swing which helps vestibular awareness with children afflicted with autism. It’s now used in about 250 pediatric clinics nationwide.
“They’re bettering their lives with this,” Clark said.
Clark also invented Noxon Tools, a line of spring-powered products sold nationally to the tune of more than $1 million on QVC.
His biggest passion is running. He’s done 30 straight Bloomsdays, the most recent with three daughters and a granddaughter.
Along with Clark’s son, they’ll be reunited in the Wampus Cat Marathon, which begins at 6:30 a.m. at City Beach in Sandpoint and ends on Highway 200 in Clark Fork.
It’s not too late to enter, said Clark, who’s also organized a half-marathon to start at 7:30 a.m. at Trestle Creek. Some participants have opted to form relay teams, splitting the distances as they see fit.
Some are planning to go the distance. Larry Carroll, a 76-year-old from Spokane, has run 169 marathons, more than one-third of them at ultra distances of 50 to 100 miles.
Carroll will get a special honor on Saturday, Clark promises.
Another runner, Terry Mack of Coeur d’Alene, has finished 70 marathons. Wendy Herbes of Deer Park has completed 51 half-marathons.
Clark hopes for about two dozen participants in the marathon and 30 to 40 for the shorter distances.
“It’s going to be a fun run,” Clark said.
The cause is Clark Fork High School, where Clark played basketball before graduating in 1957.
“That’s where my heart is,” said Clark, who hopes to raise $5,000 through race fees, sponsorships and pledges from the community.
“That’s the goal: to help the school flourish,” Clark said.
Now for the big question: Can Clark finish what he started? A dozen years ago, at 65, he finished three marathons, one of them in less than five hours. He’s putting in more miles than usual these days, up to 15 miles.
“I’m not sure I’ll make it, but I’m sure going to try,” Clark said.
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