Ruth Heidrich

Photo from Ruth Heidrich

Photo from Ruth Heidrich

Many of us are on a perpetual search for the secret to living a long and healthy life, and marathon-running cancer survivor Ruth Heidrich has made it her mission to help people achieve that goal.

“I want to show people that as you age, if you’re healthy and fit, you can have fun and do all these things – and if you have neither, it’s really a drag,” she says.

Heidrich has run the Honolulu Marathon 20 times, but wasn’t able to make this year’s event, which took place last weekend. Instead, she’s focusing on her upcoming speeches.

She will be the featured guest speaker at the Dec. 10 free public lecture from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Ala Wai Golf Course Clubhouse, sponsored by the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii. (Her second lecture takes place Dec. 17 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Greens & Vines Restaurant. Call 536-9680 to RSVP and pre-pay the $22.50 cost.)

The 78-year-old was on MidWeek‘s cover Oct. 23, 1985, for her athleticism as an Ironman triathlete, and since then has done the same vigorous race a few more times.

She attributes her success on the course and the fact that her cancer has been in remission for 31 years to her diet and exercise routine.

“I was already a marathoner and had been a daily runner for 14 years at the time my cancer was diagnosed,” she explains. “It obviously wasn’t just a matter of just being fit. You also had to be fit and eat a healthy diet.”

This concept will be a key talking point during her lectures. Another topic of discussion will be her latest book, Lifelong Running: How to Overcome the 11 Myths of Running and Live a Healthier Life, her fourth since she was featured on our cover.

The world traveler still runs every day and even makes the long trek up Ward Avenue to Prospect Street (a stretch that most automobiles have trouble ascending) around Punchbowl and up Papakolea once a week.

Aside from running and eating healthy (Heidrich lives on a low-fat vegan diet), she has been able to travel all of the world – twice.

She recalls her four-month world journey aboard the Holland America (Rotterdam): “The ship picked up right here in Hawaii, and I literally ran from my home down to Aloha Tower Marketplace and boarded the ship there. I forgot my jeans, because I don’t wear long pants here in Hawaii, and I realized I’m going to need jeans. So I ran back home, picked up my jeans and ran back to the ship before we left at 5 p.m.”

Heidrich welcomes questions and comments on her website,, where you can learn more about her and her lifestyle.

“Apparently, I get confused with the other Dr. Ruth,” she says with a laugh. “I get all these questions about erectile disfunction, and I reply, ‘I think you meant this for the other Dr. Ruth,’ but I tell them that if they change their diet (and lifestyle) they don’t need pills. I get to an audience who has probably never heard of a vegan diet or considered running.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone who can keep pace with Heidrich’s training, but you can keep up to date with what she’s up to on her website.

Catch her if you can!