Perfect Record

Dr. Leon Blue (’72) has been running for most of his adult life. From 5Ks to full marathons, he has run hundreds of miles. A cardiologist by trade, Blue graduated from Harding and attended University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for medical school and post-graduate training. In total, with residency and his cardiology fellowship, he spent nine years in post-graduate training and education before he and his wife, Margaret Formby (’72), returned to Searcy, where he practiced for 40 years until his retirement this summer. 

“I always knew I wanted to go to medical school and wanted to be a physician,” said Blue. “After working in the NASA research program at Harding, I went to medical school and had an opportunity to work in a noninvasive cardiac lab and realized that was what I wanted to do.” 

Outside of the clinic, Blue trains to run marathons across the United States, including every Walt Disney World Marathon since the first race in 1994. 

“My running buddy and I had done several 5Ks and 10Ks, but we said we’d never be true runners until we’d done at least one marathon.” 

After running the New York Marathon, Blue said he thought it would be one and done, but it was just beginning. 

“We ended up saying ‘well, if you run a marathon, you need to run the mother of all marathons. You need to run the Boston Marathon.’” 

A short time later, Blue learned that Walt Disney World would begin hosting a marathon, and he was immediately on board. As someone whose family traveled to Disney for vacations frequently, he was eager to do what he loved in a place he loved and has been returning each year since. 

In order to prepare for a 26.2 mile race, Blue says he will run six miles a day, five days a week with the exception of one day, which he will use to do a longer run and build up in preparation for the marathon. He does this each week until he peaks around 20 miles. 

Blue has since run 38 marathons, 28 of which have been Disney marathons. When asked what races have been the most memorable, he said both the Boston and 100th Boston Marathon — a race he had to qualify for both times — and running a marathon with his daughter, who, at the time, attended Harding. 

“When my daughter was in college at Harding, she said, ‘Dad, before I graduate I want to run a marathon with you.’ I said, ‘well you know when I run. If you want to get up and go run and train with me, you can.’ And sure enough she started getting up and running with me in the mornings. We have now run at least four marathons together, which has been so special.” 

Blue is now one of nearly 80 people in what Disney calls the ‘Perfect Club,’ made up of members who have run every Walt Disney World Marathon since its first year in 1994. As a part of this club, Blue is given the same bib number every year and offered free registration. 

“Disney knows how to do events. It’s an early start at 5 a.m. each year, but the course takes you through all four parks during which you encounter the characters and entertainment that helps motivate you and keep you going.”

Blue has two granddaughters who are now students at Harding, one of whom has run a marathon with him and his daughter as well. 

“That was two years ago now before COVID. The three of us ran together, and that was really cool to experience with both my daughter and granddaughter.” 

Blue is now training for the 2022 Walt Disney World Marathon this January, which will be  his 39th full marathon. He plans to stay in that Perfect Club.

— Katie Clement

Categories: Alumni Profiles.

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