Ramiro Herrera is setting a high bar, determined to become one of the oldest people to climb Mount Everest. And he’s training for it at an unexpected place: the heat of South Texas.
He may not look like a bird or a plane, but to the people who know Herrera, he could very well be Superman.
At 72 years old, Herrera has run 56 marathons across the country. He says he’s been running since the age of 8.
Now, Herrera is about to face his greatest challenge: climbing Mount Everest.
In May, Herrera spent two weeks hiking 45 miles to the base of the mountain, which is about half way to the summit, after several travel companies refused to take him.
It takes an average of two months to reach the top. Four people reportedly died trying to make the hike the same weekend Herrera was there.
The conditions in the Rio Grande Valley, at the southern tip of Texas, presents a unique training ground for a place like Everest: 100 degrees and high humidty at sea level.
“Well, I train all the time right here. Because I train in the hot weather, when I run in the cold weather, or walk in the cold weather, it’s better for me because I don’t sweat in the cold weather,” Herrera explained.
Herrera claims that he’s never been sick in his life and that he has no addictions or vices. He doesn’t drink, and he doesn’t smoke. His addiction is running.
“From six miles to 12 to 16 miles a day,” he noted.
Word of his first attempt has made him a local hero, of sorts, inspiring those around him to follow in his footsteps, including Herrera’s wife, Sanjuana, who never leaves his side.
“I always go everywhere he goes,” said Sanjuana, explaining that it can mean going to a place where there’s always a chance he may never return. “Because I like him. I like how he runs and how he [challenges] himself, and he always wants to do that.”
Sanjuana’s goal is to help her husband get sponsors before he returns to Nepal in March. Climbing Mount Everest can set a person back about $85,000, she said.
Nevertheless, Herrera says that the greatest return for people’s investment in him is his health.
“The exercise is the best life insurance I can buy.”