PROFILE--Bill Thorn just finished his 50th Peachtree in a row.

Bill Thorn ran the inaugural Peachtree Road Race in 1970, which has now become the world’s largest 10K. Now 88, Thorn and his family, holding life-sized printouts of his face, celebrated his 50th running of the race on July 4 (in a modest, celebratory 2:17:58). Thorn's the only person to have run all 50 Peachtrees. He also just stepped down from a 56-year career as a track, cross-country and football coach with a winning record of 44 state championships.  Thorn is not resting on his many accomplishments and settling into retirement. He’s too busy working out 90 minutes every day and figuring out his next phase of life.

Career/Profession? Growing up in Birmingham Alabama, I worked in the steel mills but realized I would die if I didn’t get out. So I went to college and majored in

PROFILE--Phil Stewart has been running for 52 years

Boston 2019. Photo by MarathonFoto.
Phil Stewart has had a highly respected national running presence for more than 40 years as a sub-2:20 marathoner, writer, publisher, race director, and road-race management expert. Currently he is director of the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile and publisher of Road Race Management newsletter. Stewart's running career has had more than the usual ups and downs, as has his weight. His personal story--returning to more consistent running and fitness when he reached his early 60s--serves testimony to the "it's never too late" approach. Stewart, now 69, is the first Lifetime Runner to express some apprehension that his cardiac health could outlast his brain health. We give him credit for his candor. 

Your career/profession? I have been fortunate to have been able to carve out a career entirely in the running industry. I was one of the three founders of Running Times magazine in 1977, started Road Race Management as a spin off in 1982 (which I purchased when I left Running Times in 1986), and started directing the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile in 1991.

When did you start running and why? I started running to get into shape

PROFILE--Dave Dial has run 195,000 miles in 58 years, 11 months

(6-2019) Dave Dial has packed a lot of running into his not quite 59 years (59th birthday next month). He ran a 2:24 in the Boston Marathon at age 19, and has already passed 195,000 total lifetime miles. He has achieved this, he says, with a lot of "positive energy" and "being the best person I can be to everyone I meet."

Career/profession? Due to a hardship scenario (severe drought) in 2011, my Dad asked me to return to my home state of Texas to assist him with his land and cattle. It's very hard work; 24/7...

When did you start running and WHY? According to my Mom, I began walking at 8 months and my running career began shortly thereafter! On that note, as I not so jokingly like to say, running is in my DNA. Inspired by runners like Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter, I began logging my mileage the summer I turned 16 (1976).

Running in peak years? About 140 miles a week.

Top races or proudest achievements? I ran 2:24:18, 42nd place, as a 19 yr old in the 1980 Boston Marathon. Also: A winning 10K of 29:48 in 1989; running almost 200,000 lifetime miles; doing long runs, with my friend Edison Eskeets, to raise funds for Native American causes; chairing the annual jog-a-thon at my son's elementary school for 13 years, raising $200K+ for school programs.

Estimate of total lifetime miles? 195,000+.

How much are you running and cross-training now? I'm currently running 100+ miles/week and I also ride a mountain bike for a half an hour the minute I complete my afternoon run; good way to cool down/cross-train. The work I do is very physically demanding and serves nicely as strength training. I don't stretch but I do began all of my runs slowly and ease into it...
Racing a 10K in Boston in 1988

How have your diet and weight changed through the years, if at all? Any current supplements? My weight has been very consistent over the years and I run enough that I can eat whatever I want. Therefore, I eat what my body craves as long as it's relatively healthy and lends itself to a somewhat balanced diet. I take multi-vitamins and glucosamine daily.

Any serious injury or health problems? I can safely say that 99.9% of my running injuries, primarily tendinitis, resulted from overuse. Needless to say, I've learned a lot about my body per the running I've done and have figured out "short cuts" when it comes to treating injuries. Treatment aside, when I'm injured I try to engage in some other type of physical activity - cycling being my first choice - if I can. Mostly, I've enjoyed good running health for an extended periods.

Does getting older and slower bother you? No, it's all relative! Given the mileage I've put on my body I'm just glad to be able to run daily and currently haven't missed a day in almost 12 years. Again, running is in my DNA and being intrinsically motivated, I never miss a day!

Favorite inspirational quote or two? I've known Bill Rodgers since I was 17 years old and one of his quotes sums up running, if not life, best for me: "To be a consistent winner means preparing not just one day, one month or even one year - but for a lifetime."

Selfie taken on the run a year ago in
Texas when he reached 190,000
total lifetime miles.
What 3 short tips would you offer to young/midlife runners who hope to continue running many years into the future?
1--Consistency is key; you can't train hard for a few days, take time off, train a bit more, and so on, and then expect good results.

2--Hand in hand with the above, keep a training log. A lot can be learned by recording what you've done both in terms of what works and of equal importance, what doesn't work!

3--Before my first marathon an older runner gave me the following simple advice: "Patience and pace!" This applies to one's training as well. Good things will come if you stay consistent and give it time. Further, there's a lot to be said for heeding the advice of experienced runners so keep your ears and mind open!

How does running & fitness improve your life on a daily/weekly basis? I feel better physically and better about myself mentally because of my running. You can't put a price tag on that!
What are the biggest lessons (life lessons and running lessons) you have learned from running? How would you describe your philosophy of life, running, and aging? Running has always kept me grounded. Further, since running makes me feel better about myself both physically and mentally, I channel that positive energy into my daily life in hopes it will impact the people around me.

On that note, in being the best person I can to everyone I encounter, I sleep very well at night knowing that both mileage-wise and humanity-wise, I give life my best shot on any given day.

PROFILE--Harry Carter has been running for 55 years, is winning races at 82

(6-2019) Harry Carter spent his early childhood in London in the mid-1930s, and recalls walking to school with a gas mask, a precaution from events of WW1. Eventually he immigrated to the United States (MA) and got serious about his running at 57 after dabbling in it in his 20s. He ran his first marathon at 60 in 3:38. At 82, Carter is still a serious age-group threat and contender at races from the 5K to the marathon. Short and stocky with a wide smile, Carter is having a good time, and posting great times, in his senior years. (Additional bio details at end of interview.)

Profession/Career? I was trained as a mechanical engineer. On finishing school in 1952 I got an apprenticeship subsidized by the British Government.  The program no longer exists but it was designed to fill the lost manpower caused by WWII.

When did you start running and why? On arriving in the US I took up in quick succession: camping, hiking,

PROFILE--Ella Willis has been running for 52 years

Ella Willis, current
(6-2019) Ella Willis grew up in Detroit where she won her first ever marathon--the 1975 Motor City Marathon (now the Detroit Free Press Marathon). She was just 17 at the time and recently graduated from high school. She set the women’s course record for that event in 1989 with a time of 2:38:22, and went on to win it three more times.  She also won the Ultimate Runner Competition in Jackson, MI, in back to back years in the 1980’s. That event consisted of a 10K, a 400m, a 100m, a 1 mile race, and a marathon…all in one day. Willis has finished 22 marathons, with 11 sub-three-hour marathons. In 2017 she was inducted into the National Black Distance Running Hall of Fame. Now 61, she still lives in Detroit and competes in races almost every weekend.

Profession/career? I have worked various jobs in my life, including being a Nurse’s Aide, light industrial work, and most recently working in security. I am currently taking a break from working.  

When did you start running and why?  I can’t remember the exact month and year I started running. I just remember always enjoying running back and forth from elementary school.  I still did that practice all the way through high school.  Before high school, I joined the Lipke Road Runners, a track and long distance team coached by Joe Smetanka. When I started Pershing High School in 1972, Allen Tellis coached me on both the track and cross-country teams. I was the only girl on the latter, and had to compete against the boys. At the time, there was no girls’ cross country team. 

It was ultimately my mother, Mary Cash, who suggested that I get into marathon running. I had never heard of a marathon and when she suggested I run one I said, “What’s that?”

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Ultimate Runner, 1988

How much did you run during your peak years? At my peak, again estimating the distance, I ran approximately 80 miles a week, Now I run between 45-50 miles a week. Now I run four days a week and usually race on the weekends. I love to compete.

Top races or running achievements? My most memorable races were winning the Detroit Free Press Marathon four times and setting the record for that event of 2:38:22 in 1989. Also winning the Ultimate Runner event in back to back years in the 1980’s.

Current running, cross-training, stretching, strength work, etc.? When I was younger, I used to train and compete a lot more. I used to compete in a race a week from the spring until the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October. Now, I still train but run a lot less races. I don’t really cross train but I go to a gym and do strength training and ride a bike. I like to keep busy. 

Guesstimate of your total lifetime miles? This is a rough guesstimate, but over 50,000 miles when you add up all my competitive running and training.

Dietary and weight changes? Supplements? I pretty much eat what I want. When I was younger and especially when getting close to running the Free Press, I changed my diet by eating lighter meals, giving up red meat, and drinking my honey and tea mix, and avoiding soda. When I race I drink my own home-brewed tea with honey. I find that works best for me.

Race photo, 2016
Do you prefer social running or solo running? I have done a little social running, and adapting to slower times as I age is no problem. I tend to be a loner.

Injuries and/or health issues?  I had a problem with shin splints early in my career but got it resolved. In April of 1989 I got hit by a car while running, and was knocked unconscious. I injured my shoulder and back, which caused me to be hospitalized, but six months later I won the Free Press Marathon. In my heyday I liked to race every week, sometimes twice a week, so I am lucky not to have had more injuries. I took an 11-year hiatus from racing in the 1990s. I was burnt out and lost my drive. I continued running and did a lot of walking, as I wanted to heal my body.

Favorite Quote? “Find something you love and don’t be afraid to be passionate about it.” I said that!

How does running & fitness improve your life? I believe that running has kept me healthy and feeling younger.  I never feel old or slow. I tell my husband I feel 36, not 61 and he agrees with me. That’s one reason we’ve been married 30 years! Plus, running makes me happy. I want to run forever, because it improves my life so much.

Three tips for young runners inspiring to be a lifetime runner?
1--You can do whatever you put your mind and heart to.
2--Practice is the key to success.
3--Don't let anyone tell you what you can't do. 

What's your philosophy of life, aging, and running? In running, like life, you will experience setbacks but I find that you have to endure the pain and don’t quit the race. Just keep running. When I coach and talk to kids, I tell them you need a good mind and must be prepared to run with discipline. Plus you need to embrace and love what you do. For me, running is in my heart. It’s a part of me. 

PROFILE--Kathy Waldron has finished 28 Bostons in a row

Waldron has 28 Boston medals in her collection, more
than are shown here.
(6-2019) To some extent Kathy Waldron, who grew up one of 12 kids on a farm in Wisconsin, owes her Boston streak to her father, a runner, and her biggest supporter. When he read about Kathrine Switzer’s 1967 Boston Marathon finish, he wrote a letter to his daughter. It said: “Some day you will run the Boston Marathon.”  Waldron, now 60, still has that letter and credits her father for her strength and gumption. When he died, she buried him with her first Boston Marathon medal.

Profession/Career? I’m a jack-of-all-trades kind of woman. I once drove trucks across country, have been an administrative assistant at a hospital, and most recently I’ve been a school bus driver and a courier for a lab. I like to

PROFILE--George Hirsch has been running for 68 years

Historic photo of first NYC 5-boro marathon in 1976. Here,
Hirsch runs between the East River and FDR Drive in
 upper Manhattan.
(6-2019) George Hirsch is a true Renaissance man. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and received an MBA from Harvard, but never mentions either. He puts on no airs, and suffers none. In between the Ivy League schools, he served in the U.S. Navy. At 84, Hirsch can still run a 10:00-minute pace and afterwards do a Fun Run with his grand kids. He has lived a simple-but-productive and joy-filled life--one centered on people, passion, principle, and running.

Your profession/career: I was in magazine publishing (New York Magazine, Runners’ World) and am now the chairman of New York Road Runners. I was born in a New York Hospital and grew up in New Rochelle, a born and bred New Yorker. I was active and played many sports when I was young, but my sister who is two years older than me was the athlete in the family. When I showed up for playground baseball games, I just prayed