Hubert Takes on Route 66 at 66

At 66, many Germans are looking forward to a quiet retirement, but not Hubert Karl. The extreme athlete has already tackled some of the world’s toughest ultramarathons multiple times. Now, he has set his sights on conquering the most famous road in the world: Route 66 in the USA.

Stretching from Lake Michigan in Chicago (northeast) through eight states and three time zones, this former highway reaches all the way to the Santa Monica Pier on the West Coast. Covering 2,448 miles, nearly 4,000 kilometers, the route winds through mountains, deserts, and barren landscapes before ending in sunny California.

The Idea Sparked by a Birthday Card

But why undertake such a challenge? The idea came from a birthday card. “On my 60th birthday, the invitation card read ‘My Route 60’. That day, some ultra-running friends from Finland and Japan joined me, and we ran 60 kilometers from 7 in the morning until noon,” Hubert tells BILD over the phone, as he trudges through the unforgiving Mojave Desert in California.

From ‘My Route 60,’ the certified running therapist quickly conceived ‘My Route 66’ in his mind.

Ice Cubes Under the Cap Help

During the call, the connection briefly drops as a freight train roars past Hubert Karl. The conditions along the route are unpredictable; Route 66 is not completely intact. Sometimes he runs on the shoulder of the road, other times on gravel paths.

He’s less bothered by the inclines and the heat. Hubert has his “tricks” – wet towels, ice cubes under his cap, and the right running form.

However, he acknowledges he’s not the first to run this legendary route. “I found someone, Phil Rosenstein. He ran the route in 2008, but from Los Angeles to Chicago, the opposite direction. I’m running against the wind,” he explains.