Notes from Dr. Sam

Notes From Dr. Sam

Good Day,

I hope this note finds you well.

As many of you know, I have been a runner since I was twenty-two years old. It began when I was a freshman in medical school. Each morning, I met with a group of fellow students at 5:00 AM; we would go for a two-mile jog to get fully awake, and then we would study for a couple of hours. At that point in life, we thought two miles was a really long way. I ran in a pair of Red Ball Jets basketball shoes. 

I was lucky to come along at a time when parts of medicine were beginning to emphasize self-help and disease prevention. Clearly my occupation was not going to require any appreciable exercise, and luckily, I loved running. 

For the first fifteen years of my running, I almost never raced. I would occasionally run a 5K or 10K, but the truth was that I much preferred the daily training to the racing. On January 1st of 1978, I got up, dressed out in my workout clothes and running shoes and ran from my house in Hidden Valley Addition in Benton to Fouche Dam Pike, just west of the airport in Little Rock. I did the twenty-five-mile run with almost no preparation, drank very little fluids along the way and ate nothing. After that day I knew I wanted to keep doing long runs. 

My first marathon was the Dallas White Rock Marathon on Sunday, December 10th, 1989. I knew on that day as I crossed the finish line that I was hooked on marathoning (26.2 miles). Over the next thirty years, I ran five to six marathons per year and thoroughly enjoyed the sport. 

By the time I turned 71, I had reached the point where I no longer enjoyed the second 13 miles of the race; my last marathon was Dallas White Rock in December of 2018. For the last few years, I have run five to six half-marathons each winter and spring and, as you know, Ms. Annette and I engage in long-distance bike riding the rest of the year.

This last winter I had a red-letter day in my running career. At age 17, my oldest granddaughter, Charlie Taggart, runs track and cross-country for Bryant. She decided in the fall of 2023 that she wanted to run a half marathon. We planned and registered for the Run the Line half marathon in Texarkana. As we stood at the starting line, it occurred to me that I was 60 years older than she. 

The gun went off; she was off like a shot. She looked like a young antelope bounding away. Her finish time was 2:08, and she came in fourth in her age division. I finished four minutes behind her. My congratulations go out to Charlie in her first long endurance race. I suspect this will be the first of many endurance races for her.

Have a good journey,


 Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/writer/marathon runner who practiced in Benton for 45 years. He recently released For Every Family, A Family Doctor: a history of the modern Family Medicine Movement in Arkansas. His other books include Country Doctors of Arkansas, The Public’s Health, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices.