Teacher shares passion for running

Photo by Ariel Van Patten

Ariel Van Patten

By Nabeel Jawad, Klein HS, Klein, Texas

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Mr. Benignus has his bow ties, Coach Turks has his mustache, and Mr. VandenBelt has his ponytail.

“I started growing it around four or five years ago,” said advanced placement psychology and duel credit U.S. history teacher Garret VandenBelt, commonly referred to as Mr. V. “No students have ever questioned my ponytail either.”

While everybody knows he has this distinct feature, some may not know that he also loves to run marathons.

“You may be familiar with the fact that I run a lot. I started in 2004, I was 48 yrs old, and Mr. Rock, a former teacher here at Klein, suggested that I run marathons because he knew I jogged a lot to keep myself underweight. I thought it was a great idea. After training for a while, I ran the Houston half-marathon in 2005,” said Mr. V.

Running his first marathon was tough for Mr. V, but after hard training, he’s been able to run them.

“I got a big blister my first time, it was terrible. But ever since then, I’ve been ‘addicted’ to running,” said Mr. V.

Mr. V has been running for a while, and it has become a hobby for him.

“This year in Houston was my 30th run I’ve done so far. That’s what I mainly do in my free time, but occasionally in the summer I go hiking and camping with my wife,” he said.

Mr. V says he also is an avid reader, and hopes to be able to read more in the future.

“I also love to read. I haven’t had time because I’m so busy with school, but once I retire in five years or so, then I’ll be able to read more often,” Mr. V said.

Mr. V is also going to be competing in an independence relay with teachers at Klein High School.

“Twelve other teachers at Klein and I are going to go run the Texas Independence Relay that’s 200 miles,” said Mr. V.

He also went to different states running different marathons, including one which got canceled.

“In 2012, I went to the New York Marathon, but then the Sandy Hook incident occurred. The guy behind me in the plane said the marathon got canceled. Everybody thought it was a joke, but it was true. About 1/3 of the people on the plane were all going to run this marathon, and a lot of them said some unpleasant things out of anger. So now I was in New York with no marathon. We lost our money, but they reimbursed us for next year to run. So in November 2014, I’m going to go back to run again,” said Mr. V.

He encourages everyone to find their passion just as he did.

“I’ve actually convinced some of my nieces and nephews, and they run now. I think it made me healthier and makes me enjoy life much more. It doesn’t matter whether you run or not. I think people need to find their passion, something you feel strongly about. It makes life more enjoyable,” said Mr. V.

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