Haught Raises More Than $3K

Local fighter runs race in bare feet

Photo by Joe Lovell Johnny Haught ran the race barefoot to raise money for the Upper Ohio Valley United Way.

WHEELING — For Johnny “The Hyperactive Hillbilly” Haught, Saturday morning’s 42nd annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic wasn’t about what time he crossed the finish line, it was about giving back.

The former professional boxer, kickboxer and cage fighter ran the 13.1-mile course in his bare feet. He partnered with the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley to raise funds for Lace Up for Kids so that unfortunate youth in the Ohio Valley can receive shoes.

“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. A lot of weaker people would have fell off about 29th Street. It was willpower that got me through it,” Haught said. “I’m elated. I’ve got adrenaline rushing through me, so nothing has kicked in yet. I’m sure here in about an hour the wall is going to hit me and I’m going to go down.

“Right now it is a rush of emotions. I’m really excited with the fact that I got through it and everything is OK.”

The Wheeling resident toured the course in the hot and humid conditions. The heat making the pavement even that much hotter.

“They are warm right now,” Haught said of the bottom of his feet. “Until about an hour from now, I won’t really know what kind of damage I’m in.”

He said the support he received, both prior to and during the race, was outstanding.

“I had about 4 or 5 people that stayed with me. Then I either left them in the dust or they left me in the dust, but I had a lot of people really supporting me. The people along the course clapping and cheering for the barefoot guy was great.”

Haught had run the race before — with shoes — as a representative of the YMCA, but he wanted to do it his way.

“I decided to do it in the fall, so I started doing 2-3 miles at a time to see if it was feasible,” he said.

“I found that I could do it and the more and more I thought about it the more it picked up speed. It was great marketing idea … running barefoot and raising money for kids to have shoes. It worked out really well.”

When asked if he’d do it again, he didn’t hesitate.

“I don’t know if I’d do it barefoot. I don’t like to repeat things, but I’ll probably do something just as crazy. That’s my nature. I’ve got things on my bucket list and I cross them off immediately when I’ve finished them.

Play It Again Sports in Elm Grove is donating shoes and cleats to those in need.