PROFILE--Rich Castro has been running for 59 years

(June 2020) As a longtime resident of Boulder, CO, Rich Castro has been close to that community's many famous runners and races. More than just a participant, he has als
o launched and nurtured some of the most important initiatives. Today, at 72, he continues to run and compete vigorously, while also supporting many running events. He notes: "What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” He also advises us to "invest in yourself. Take care of your body" and to connect with the global community.

Career-profession? I was fortunate enough to make a living as a recreational sports administrator at the University of Colorado for 34 years, while combining it with my passion for running. The university administration encouraged me, and that latitude was the cornerstone for the majority of my accomplishments.

How and why did you start running? I grew up in La Verne, CA a small town in southern California that had a great track history. The local hero was the Rev. Bob Richards, the first man on the Wheaties Box and

Olysmpic gold medalist in the pole vault in ’52 and ’56. I went to a school assembly where he discussed the recent Olympics and was so inspired I took up running with our school track team in the 5th grade (1957). I was too small for most sports, but my speed helped me fit in, and we would even choose up sides for 440 relays at recess. Having English as a second language and not learning to read until I was in the 4 th grade were obstacles that running helped me bridge. However I count my official start to running as my freshman year in high school in 1961 when I started training and racing regularly.

I was never into keeping detailed mileage records and would write down only my structured sessions and some performances. In 1978 I did my peak mileage as I prepared for my first serious marathon attempt, and completed 1000 miles over the summer months of May, June, July, and August with one week totaling 109. I ran an easy 2:46 at Mission Bay Marathon to qualify for Boston and hit the wall badly the next spring at Boston, running 2:49.

Best-proudest accomplishments in running? I am proudest of having competed for 59 consecutive years. Having gone to a small high school and a small college, I never focused on any one single event, running XC in the fall and just about every distance on the track. I loved running relays because of the shared success, and it made for lasting friendships. I broke 2 minutes for the half mile in H.S. and ran 22.9 for the 220 and was part of a school record 880 relay team that ran 1:29.6. My senior year our XC team was undefeated in league competition, but I remember our bus rides more than anything else.

My senior year at LaVerne college, I ended up running the sprints 100/200/440 relay, and mile relay. Two races stick out. One was breaking 10 seconds for the first time on a slow dirt track at Cal Tech and being told no one had ever done that. The other was anchoring our 440 relay at the Claremont Relays in the spring of ’69. I got a perfect baton pass from my teammate Teddy Green and flew home, closing on two international runners and finishing a very close third. It was as close to flying as I’ve ever felt.

Some important accomplishments: 

# Coaching CU’s 440 relay team that ran 39.8 in 1972, a record that lasted 4 decades.

# Starting the inaugural women’s collegiate XC and T/F teams at the University of Colorado in 1976.

# Establishing the Boulder Road Runners in 1978, and putting on Boulder’s first marathon and major road races. 

# Working with the Frank Shorter Racing Team. 

# Creating a kid’s running event at a local elementary school that is in its 43rd year. 

# Working with the Bolder Boulder 10km for 27 years. 

# Being inducted into my college hall of fame and the Colorado Running Hall of Fame.

# Receiving the Robert L. Stearns award from the University of Colorado for service to the university and community. It is the highest award a standing faculty or staff member can receive. 

# I have done international T/F clinics in Brasil, Mexico and Ecuador, served an Olympic Coach for Ecuador in 1996, and worked with the Army’s World Class Athlete Program in 1998.

Guesstimated total lifetime running miles? I would estimate I have done 75-80,000 miles in my career.

Current running and cross-training? I usually run 3-4 times per week and cross train or do combo workouts 3-4 times a week. I try not to run two days in a row and never two hard days. I incorporate weights, flexibility drills, balance work into my daily schedule, sometimes as a prelude to my up tempo running sessions. I started acquiring exercise equipment 40 years ago, so I have a stationary cycle, elliptical machine, Olympic weight set, dumbbells, balance pillows, inversion table, and foam rollers, I have a complete array of toys such as compression boots, the roll recovery, and elastic bands. It’s part of my philosophy, “Invest in yourself.” The second part is “Use it or lose it.”

Any recent race results? My last race was in February. I did it as a time trial and rust buster to start the year. I chose a 5k on an established course in Denver that I’ve been racing for more than 45 years, and finished in 23:47. My best race last year was a 6:37 road mile at our state championships.

Does aging and slowing down bother you? Slowing down I know is inevitable. But as long as I get that sense of wellbeing sometime during my runs, however brief, they still give me great satisfaction. Training with a group has kept me motivated ever since I retired and racing as part of a team is something that keeps me going. Living in Boulder is an inspiration in itself, and having such marvelous athletes as friends and neighbors is such a gift.

Basic diet? Any changes through the decades, or weight changes? I try to keep my diet simple. My wife is an RN, so I’ve been educated on diet. I didn’t focus much on it earlier in life, and I would have said it wasn’t very good. Now we focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, and not too much red meat or processed foods. We try to eat early, and I drink an average of 4 liters of water a day. I don’t really take supplements anymore other than fish oil which was recommended by my physician. I do take meds like most men my age.

Injuries or other health obstacles? I’ve had most of the standard injuries runners encounter. Plantar fasciitis, shin splints, piriformis syndrome, IT Band issues, and calf problems. Most of the time I limped my way through injuries until I took up cross training. I discovered its benefits while training Ellen Hart, because she couldn’t handle high mileage. Before that I employed a shotgun approach and tried everything, so I was never sure what actually helped me recover.

Favorite quote or two? One quote that I have tried to live by is from Albert Pike. “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” For pure inspiration, I appreciate this from Chariots of Fire character, Eric Liddell. “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Three tips for lifetime running? 

1--In training, remember: Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.

2--Keep a training diary and record how your body reacts to different workouts. Learn to read the signals.

3--Invest in yourself. Take care of your body and your training gear. 

What does running contribute to your daily life? Running and being active on a daily basis gives me a strong sense of wellbeing. It gives me the energy to enjoy my lifestyle. It also provides me with a sense of community and being connected with family and friends. 

Running is a wonderful tool that teaches us hard work can bring great personal satisfaction, and connect us to our global community. Running exposed me to the idea that we all have common denominators that can help bridge our differences. Running has taught me to be grateful for the many opportunities that life can provide. Also it teaches us that if you enjoy what you are doing, you don’t have to be concerned about being rewarded. Life goes on and sometimes you just need to be patient and let things work out. I try not to hurry anything these days.