From the black wig with sideburns to the white jump suit trimmed in gold, down to the blue-suede running shoes, there was no mistaking who crossed the finish line. Elvis rocked his way through Saturday’s St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon.
The Elvis impersonator was 62-year-old Richard Wendt of Daytona Beach, Fla., who ran his 96th marathon, finishing in 5 hours, 43 minutes, 48 seconds. It was his 36th marathon dressed as Elvis.
Wendt, a retired math teacher who keeps meticulous records of his marathon feats, was moved to don the Elvis outfit when he saw an impersonator at a 2011 San Francisco marathon. The guy’s wig was askew and his jump suit was peeled down to the waist.
“It was kind of of hot,” said Wendt, “but you’ve got to show respect.”
Wendt is bombarded with comments at races. The most common: Elvis’ bass-voiced, “Thank you. Thank you very much!” One of the best lines: “There’s going to be a peanut butter and banana sandwich waiting for you at the finish.”
Wendt loves the interaction with fans.
“This is a big parade, and I’m in it,” he said.
Wendt ran his first marathon at 26. “Said I’d never do another one,” he said. He knocked off No. 2 at 46. “Just to prove I could do it again.”
He once was consumed by the clock, twice qualifying for Boston. Now, he runs to soak up the 26.2-mile experience, having knocked off 40 events in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.
It was probably fate that Wendt became an Elvis impersonator. His birthday: Jan. 8, the same as Elvis Presley.