Step by step, road after road, Darryl Cloud has gotten used to the surface underneath his feet changing.
The Ohio native who joined the Marines at the ripe age of 17 has repurposed himself time and time again to continue living a life that’s synonymous with selflessness.
Fundraising marathons, soul-testing triathlons, early morning runs — these are all in the 65-year-old sales manager’s arsenal of accomplishments, which begs the question: Where does he find the time?
“I don’t have a whole lot of extra time with being on the road for work and teaching as an adjunct professor at Indiana Wesleyan University,” he said. “Because of all that, I like to enjoy long runs on Saturday morning.”
Cloud hits the pavement no later than 4:30 a.m. in fear that he may miss out on his favorite part of the week.
“It’s great to be out there on the open road; I feel like I have the whole world to myself,” he said. “I watch the sunrise every Saturday and it’s something I absolutely love; I look forward to it throughout the week.”
His most recent venture — triathlons — started two years in Oxford, Ohio.
“I wanted to keep doing the distance running, but I forgot how fun cycling was,” he said. “That’s how the triathlons came about.”
He wasn’t always a fitness nut though.
“My daughter finished a marathon in Chicago in 2001 and my son did one in 2003; they challenged me a lot early on,” he said. “In early 2002, I started to walk to lose some weight and by the fall of that year I was running a mile.
“I did that for a while, then I ran a few 5Ks and then a 10K,” he added. “Before too long, I had worked up to a half marathon.”
He lost 80 pounds between 2002 and 2005, when he completed his first full marathon in Columbus. Two years later, he was out running for the Hospice Memorial Fund.
Determination and resilience are two other adjectives that could be used to describe Cloud — characteristics he picked up from his time in Vietnam.
Growing up a war junkie in Dayton, he became familiar with military strategy and history at an early age.
“I grew up learning about World War II and all the battles fought in the Pacific islands — it was just so fascinating to me,” he said. “The Marine Corps was always a childhood obsession of mine and was always something I wanted to do.”
The opportunity to fulfill his lifelong goal came knocking in April 1967.
He remembers going to high school that year and feeling unfulfilled.
“I met with a recruiter and signed up — I was only 17 at the time,” he recalled. “It’s something I felt like I needed to do.”
Being sent to the frontline was a nightmare — one that hundreds of thousands of young American men had to wake up in during the decade-long war.
“There was a whole array of emotions,” he said. “I was usually terrified and scared to death, which was followed by stretches of boredom.”
He served from 1967 to 1971 and fondly remembers the experience as “rewarding,” but likes to focus on what has happened since he left the Asian peninsula.
Cloud works for Concrete Sealants, Inc. as a national sales manager. Despite almost a quarter century of service, he feels like “the new guy.”
In 2011, Cloud was presented with the Robert E. Yoakum Award at the 46th annual Precast Concrete Convention.
“It took my breath away,” he said of the recognition. “To single me out for my work is very humbling — it left me speechless.”
Nonetheless, he remains motivated to achieve more both inside and outside of the office — even if it means going to sleep before the sun goes down.
“Oh, I’m in bed by 7:30-8,” he said. “Anything after 8 is very late for me; the sun is still up in the summer when I doze off.”
Although his internal motor serves as an alarm clock most mornings, he has received a source of external motivation from another former Marine.
Sergeant Corey Peterson was paralyzed from the chest down in a snowmobiling accident, but has since gone on to win six gold medals at the Special Olympics.
“She contacted me and shared her training story with me — that keeps me motivated,” he said.
Training year round can be a daunting task, so any additional inspiration can make a world’s difference, especially for someone who just celebrated his or her 65th birthday.
“I go in the pool year round to prepare for triathlons,” he said. “I start training about four months prior to a marathon and keep the focus on distance running.”
He’s done a marathon a year since 2005 and has logged over 1,000 miles by his count.
He’s traveling to Washington DC to do a Marine Corps marathon for wounded veterans in October, which is open to the public.
“Washington is my favorite place to run around because it’s so neat with all the historic buildings and the Potomac River,” he said. “San Diego is my second favorite because of the perfect weather.”
Cloud shows no signs of lowering the bar anytime soon — another new challenge awaits him on the horizon.
“My goal is to do an Olympic-distance triathlon by the end of this year and a Half Iron man next year,” he said. “My all time wish list item is to cycle across the United States and raise money.”
There’s still plenty of time left — and there’s certainly still more ground to cover; step by step, new road by new road.
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