Forty straight years is quite a feat on your feet

There was once a time when something like strep throat kept Steve DeBoer from running.


"We were on a family vacation and I came down with strep throat,'' DeBoer said, "so I didn't run until we got back home. My brother Dave and I ran for two miles; we were starting to get in shape for the cross country season (at St. Paul Murray).''

That two-mile run came on July 20, 1970. DeBoer hasn't missed a day of running since. If you're counting, that's 14,610 straight days or 40 straight years. 

Without missing a day.



"It's part of me now,'' said the 55-year-old Mayo Clinic registered dietitian.

Let's see, what was happening 40 years ago? Kent State shootings, Viet Nam war, Beatles disband, ABC starts Monday Night Football, the Chiefs upset the Vikings 23-7 in Super Bowl IV, Woodstock and Brett Favre celebrated his first birthday.

According to the United States Running Streak Association, as of June 1, 2010, there were 245 persons who had run at least one mile per day for one year or longer and 71 of them have been doing it for 25 years or longer.

That said, DeBoer's streak ranks as the fifth longest in the United States. The longest belongs to Mark Covert of California, who has done daily runs since July 23, 1968.

"The four guys ahead of me live in California and Washington,'' said DeBoer, "so my streak is the longest east of the Rockies. And all are older, so eventually I might move up a notch or two on the list.''

  In 40 years, he has run the "minimum'' of one mile only three times and there were a couple of real, iffy days when he did.

One came the day he had kidney stone surgery. That hurts to even think about running.


Also, in 2007, he broke his ankle on a trail run race  in Chester Woods.

Actually, it was an evulsion fracture.

"I was put in a walking boot and told, weight-bearing as tolerated. To me that meant trying to run a mile,'' he said.

"The next morning I removed the boot, taped up my ankle and ‘ran' the mile in 15 minutes, 28 seconds.''

By the end of the month, he was able to run 15 miles. In other words, no harm, no foul.

He runs in all elements, and you may have noticed that at times it gets pretty cold in Minnesota.

"The streak association allows members to run indoors (treadmill) but I still prefer outdoors,'' he said. "When it gets slippery, I put some ‘cleats' on my running shoes.

"Over the years I've run less than 250 miles in which I was protected from the elements.''


On his 40th anniversary Tuesday, he ran 6 1/2 miles, the last two with his son Nate.

"That was special,'' he said. "We talked about some of the runs on my ‘other' anniversary dates.''

OK, how much longer will this streak continue?

Simple answer, blessed with good health, a long time.

"Anything can happen,'' he said, "but I'm not going to spend the rest of my life running indoors on a treadmill. To be truthful, I'm more worried about getting in an accident when I ride my bike to work.''

He does have one lofty goal in mind, but it's going to take awhile. DeBoer wants to run the distance to the moon and without an accurate GPS, that distance is estimated at around 240,000 miles.

So far, so good; during his streak, he's run 131,000 miles. Before the streak began, even more.

"I average between 3,400 and 3,500 miles a year,'' he said, "If I can keep that up, maybe I can do it by the time I'm 80.''


Oh yes, he also wants to run a marathon at the age of 90.

"One day at a time,'' he said, and paused. "But those days can really add up.'' 

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