Saturday, April 30, 2011

Runners who Streak!

Tomorrow online registration opens for the 39th running of the Falmouth Road Race. I have been debating what I should do about this year's race and have decided to pass. I won't be able to run due to my hip (hopefully I will have had surgery by then). I hate missing Falmouth and I am sure I have a small streak of over 15 years going (my records aren't the greatest) and have completed the race around 25 times. I have never really been a streaker (someone who races the same race year after year). I wish I had stuck to running Falmouth every year since I first ran it in 1975 but triathlons and broken bones got in the way. I do have to admire the people who have been able to keep at running favorite races year after year. There are 5 gentlemen who have run each of the first 38 Falmouth Road Races and that is an amazing accomplishment. Here are four of them.

Falmouth friends, from left: Brian Salzberg in the original Falmouth Road Race t-shirt from 1973 (apparently there was some confusion about the distance); Don Delinks; Tommy Leonard; Ron Pokrara; and Mike Bennett. Leonard was one of the Falmouth founders, while Salzberg, Delinks, Pokraka, and Bennett have finished all 38 Falmouths.

You have to really enjoy a race and be dedicated to your running (and maybe be a bit crazy) to keep up such a running streak. Sports Illustrated gave a "Faces in the Crowd" recognition this week to Neil Weygandt after completing his 45th consecutive Boston Marathon this year. Some of these long-time runners have slowed down considerably due to age and other issues. I enjoy hearing about streaking racers who still can run pretty fast. Scott Graham is my age and last fall completed his first Ironman Triathlon which is pretty heady stuff indeed, but Scott is also a long time runner. This year he completed his 26th consecutive Boston Marathon. He is just not completing them, he ran it in ‎3:00:50. That is quite a streak and a fast time!Years of running can really beat up the body.

Two other Falmouth Road Race streakers who have one of the longest consecutive ongoing streaks at Falmouth are Brian Baker and his older brother Jeff, who are both from New York and have a 32 year ongoing streak each. I have seen both of the Bakers in the starting corral for years at Falmouth and many times, because of the familiarity of their faces, have keyed parts of my races off of them. I have never formally met them yet, but Brian and I have been writing back and forth about our experiences in running and at Falmouth and I look forward to officially meeting them both this year, even though I won't be running. Brian and Jeff are not just consistent runners, but they are very fast. They both started running Falmouth in 1979 when a high school friend told them about a "really cool race on Cape Cod." They entered and ran, their friend entered also but sent in the wrong sized envelope and didn't get accepted. Brain and Jeff have continued running Falmouth since that first invitation and they do it quickly year after year: Jeff's fastest Falmouth was 37:21 in 1983 and he has a lifetime average time of 43:47 over those 32 years! Brian's fastest Falmouth was in 39:32 in 1984 and he has a lifetime average of 42:43. That is quite an amazing feat!

Brian and Jeff Baker
  A history of Brian's and Jeff's Famouth Road Race times.
Jeff Baker at Falmouth

Brian Baker at Falmouth

Some of the posters, numbers, and Falmouth Road Race paraphernalia that Brian has collected over the years. My wife was pleased  to find out the someone has collected more race stuff than I have!

Now for a confession. I almost had my own "Falmouth streak" going one year. When I was a freshman at Falmouth High School back in 1973, streaking was the current fad. I was shopping one day at the local Bradlees department store and I saw what I thought was a very funny shirt. It said something like, "Member, USA Streaking Team". I bought it and brought it home. Then my mom saw it and made me bring it back to the store. That was sort of awkward, "Um why do you want to return this shirt?"

My suggestion to you is if you have never run Falmouth sign up for the online registration and see if you can make it into the race this year. If you do get to run Falmouth keep doing it again and again and try to stay healthy. See how many years you can go. A 32 year streak will take you to 2043! These long time streakers are doing something right and they keep doing it again and again. Later I would like to have Brian explain a method he has discovered for keeping injury free, particularly after so many years of racing. 


Michael said...

It seems entirely unfair that someone who loves the sport of running as you obviously do should be stuck sitting on the sidelines.

I'd be willing to double my recovery time, if meant that yours could be cut in half!

Jim Hansen said...

Thanks, I wish I could take you up on that!! I do figure that a good long rest from running after so many years of pounding might help in the long run. Now where were you when I needed someone to take my place in the MRI?