- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2005

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Gov. Mike Huckabee finished the Little Rock Marathon yesterday, nearly two years after he embarked on a diet and fitness regimen that left him 110 pounds lighter and diabetes free.

The Arkansas Republican finished ahead of his new running mate — Gov. Tom Vilsack, Iowa Democrat.

The crowd cheered as Mr. Huckabee turned the corner toward the finish line and started the last stretch of the 26.2 mile race. Mr. Huckabee finished in slightly more than 4 hours and hugged his two sons and daughter.

“What do you say? Is that not cool?” the Republican governor said, holding up his medal afterward before heading over to the VIP tent for a massage and two diet sodas.

Mr. Vilsack, who had given an early concession speech the day before, finished about 40 minutes after Mr. Huckabee, who waited at the finish line and hugged his friend as he crossed, giving him his finisher’s medal.

Mr. Huckabee said afterward that he watched the movie “Rocky” the night before the race to get pumped up.

“I never felt I was going to quit,” he said. “I never hit a point where I thought I couldn’t do it. I felt good all the way through the finish, and I was kicking it at the end.”

Arkansas’ first lady, Janet Huckabee, planned to walk the entire 26.2 miles, while Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack said she would walk part of it.

Mr. Huckabee has championed healthy living in public talks nationwide and media interviews after losing more than 100 pounds from eating right and exercising. He invited the Iowa governor to join him in the race a few weeks ago at a Washington meeting.

As the governors and their wives met outside the William J. Clinton Presidential Library on Saturday for a tour of the center, Mr. Vilsack said his state was following Mr. Huckabee’s lead and taking a closer look at the problem of obesity.

More than 1,500 people were expected to attempt the marathon.

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