BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Maybe you've seen him running the boardwalk along the beach on your drive to school or work. His distinctive beard and bright shorts are hard to miss. Ron McBee is motivating others to push themselves just a little bit harder.
It started more than 40 years ago. McBee wanted to improve his health, so he decided to start a steady exercise routine, and steady it has been.
"I found that I would run five miles, and then I wanted to run 10 miles, and I worked up and ran a couple of marathons," said the 71-year-old runner.
He didn't stop there. The marathons soon became the training for even longer races called ultra-marathons. Now, it seems McBee can't stop running.
"I've run about six 100-mile races. A couple of 100Ks. Scores of 50 milers and 50Ks," said McBee.
As if that's not enough, McBee consistently keeps up his constant routine of running the boardwalk along Hwy. 90. He didn't even miss a day after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the coast in 2005.
His run has become so routine over the decades that people have started recognizing him.
"Well, at first it was kind of surprising, because I'm just running up and down the seawall here. I would go into a store and somebody would say, 'Hey, you're that guy that runs on Hwy. 90,'" said McBee.
He said he's had several people tell him his runs serve an even bigger purpose.
"Some people say you're an inspiration, you motivate me. That's nice," said McBee.
Then, there are those who can't help but notice a resemblance to another famous bearded runner who appeared on the big screen.
"I'd be running, and people would say, oh there goes Forrest Gump. I had no idea what they were talking about. Then, I found out that there was a movie, which I still have not seen," said McBee.
He said he doesn't mind the reference or the attention for that matter. He's just enjoying life as a retired Navy warrant officer, Vietnam veteran, husband, father of four, grandfather of eight, and great-grandfather of eight.
"It's just something I enjoy doing, and I'd be out here no matter what," he said.
McBee did say he plans to run the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon in December. After all, he said he did run one when it was held here back in 1992.