Click here for pictures
One Hundred sixty-eight runners completed the St. Patty's Day 5 kilometer race today in Wolf's Pond Park, Staten Island. For most it was just another race, but for Staten Islander Jim Behr it was much more. Jim completed today what is almost incomprehensible to most runners. For twenty-five years Jim has not missed a day of running and has run at least five miles each of those days.
This durable runner, now fifty-two years old, began the streak on March 19, 1975, at the age of twenty-seven. Although he ran every day, the fact that what he was doing was anything special didn't occur to him at first. It wasn't until several years had passed, and friends began to take notice, that he realized what he had accomplished. But how long could it go on?
Well, Jim has run his 5 mile minimum every day throughout these twenty-five years. During this period he has run close to seventy marathons, including the NYC Marathon 25 times and Boston 10 times, and even ran his five mile minimum the day before and after each of them. Jim has run over 80,000 miles during this streak averaging 50 miles a week.
Jim has not had any major injuries or illnesses during this period, at least not severe enough to stop the streak. On days when he was not feeling well his wife Pam would insist that he not run alone. On those days he would take his son, Sean, or daughter, Liz, with him to keep him company. Both ran for the Tottenville High School track and field team and were happy to help out their dad. On the weekends he would take his good friend Phil Bora along for the ride if he needed a companion.
How did he find time for all of this running? Jim worked 32 years at AT&T and retired just a few years ago. AT&T was a health conscious organization and provided showers and lockers for their employees. During this period, Jim would run on his lunch hour. He had his routine down to a science. His clothes would be laid out in the morning. When lunch time arrived he would change, run 5 or 6 miles, shower and get back to work within the hour. As Jim pointed out, one positive aspect about running is "when you walk out the front door your workout can begin immediately."
After retirement from AT&T Jim began a teaching career at Monsignor Farrell High School and has taught there for three years. His routine has changed somewhat but he is still logging his five miles a day. Now, on school days, he runs in the morning before classes begins.
Jim is still a competitive runner and usually places in the top 5 in his age group. Recently he competed in the Monmouth, NJ Half Marathon and finished in 1:35.01. Not bad for a fifty-two year old runner who hasn't rested his legs in twenty-five years.
How long will he continue? He is still undecided. Does he want to end the streak on his own terms or does he want to see how long he can go? Right now he is leaning towards continuing the streak, to see how long he can go. The plan is to continue at five miles a day until reaching the age of fifty-five and then reducing the mileage to 3 miles a day. But, at age forty-five his plan was to reduce his daily mileage at the age of fifty. So, who knows how long he will go?