/Perseverance Intellect This former sports writer has both

Perseverance Intellect This former sports writer has both

It was almost 20 years ago and over 50 pounds ago. Now, Knobler is a former sports writer-turned-California tax attorney who flies his own airplane all over these United States to run marathons. He will be running the Mississippi Blues Marathon on Saturday morning. It will begin and finish at the Mississippi State Capitol. If he finishes, it will be Knobler’s 40th marathon. Mississippi will be his 36th 26.2-mile race. You find that impressive? It’s not even half of it. Knobler, now aged 58, has not started running marathons or any other distance since 2004, about one year after he quit the Clarion Ledger at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Knobler quit journalism after seven years of living in Atlanta and enrolled in law school. He began at Georgetown and finished at Yale. He passed law school. Athletics is the only aspect of Knobler’s life that he doesn’t excel in. His brain and his muscles are both affected by something tragic. His muscles don’t get it. Let me give you an example. One time, we were playing in a scramble at Whisper Lake. Knobler attempted a wedge shot at 100 yards. He was surrounded by his three teammates. Knobler hit the swing and the ball flew back at us. Unison, we ducked. Never seen that before. Never again. It didn’t even hit anything. It was just going backwards. He was so bad that he inspired a newspaper-sponsored tournament in golf. It was called “Mississippi’s Worst golfer.” Knobler came in second with a score of 154. It wasn’t just about golf. After a Starkville ballgame, I saw him attempt to shoot a basketball. From six feet away, he missed the entire backboard. Wide left. Knobler states that you don’t need to be an athlete in order to run marathons. You just need to keep moving forward. It all comes down to perseverance and persistence. He said, “Just keep going.” Once I was an aspirant marathoner. After completing a 20-mile run training, I was exhausted and couldn’t walk the next day. I quit. Knobler has never quit. He continues to go. He ran it at 8,000 feet in Wyoming. This was the most difficult. He has also run Boston. Funny story: The Boston Marathon is a race where runners travel by bus from Boston to Hopkinson. Knobler got off the bus and saw an “Athletes Village” sign. He entered proudly. Knobler recalled thinking to himself, “I guess that means I am truly and truly an athlete.” There was also the Country Music Marathon in Nashville where cheerleaders from high school ran alongside the runners to cheer them on. He says, “It was the first time I’d ever had cheerleaders shout for me.” He said, “I kinda liked it.” In Helena Montana, he placed second in the masters division, and won 50 dollars. Knobler states, “So I’m not just an athlete, but a professional athlete.” He is by far the most intelligent person I have worked with and possibly the smartest I know. He tried his hand at chess during his 15-year tenure in Jackson. He was able to win his section at the state tournament. To help my son’s game, I bought a Bobby Fischer computer and he won the fourth-grade county chess championship. There were 10 levels. The highest level was called grand master. The boy and me never reached level 5. Knobler visited me one night and set it up at grand master level. Knobler came over and set it at grand master level. One time we were covering a football game in Gainesville. On Friday night, we discovered ourselves at a party hosted by university professors. The Friday New York Times crossword puzzle was the topic of conversation. It is notoriously hard, but it was especially difficult that day. Knobler was given the puzzle by someone else. He used ink to solve it in less than 10 minutes. Jaws dropped. He said, “Would’ve been faster but I was a little drunk,” to the stunned onlookers. Did I mention that he also constructs crossword puzzles for The New York Times? Clarion Ledger bought a new, high-tech computer system and brought in experts to teach us how to use it. Knobler demonstrated the system’s capabilities to the experts. He did, in fact, end up teaching the classes. He doesn’t find that intellect helps him when he runs marathons. He says, “You just keep on going.” “No matter what, just keep going …” Knobler said that he hopes to run a marathon through all 50 states. What next? He says “Continents” without hesitation.