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5/8/97

I was glad to see a report in the Human Race section of the June, 1997 issue of RW about Bob Ray. This isn't the first time RW has reported on Bob's unusual feat. But it has been awhile since I have seen one.

For those who might not know, Bob is a runner in the Baltimore area who has the longest known running streak in the U.S. And, according to RW, the second longest streak in the world behind Ron Hill of the U.K. Bob's streak is only a year or so shorter than Ron's. I asked on the Forums previously if anyone knew if both still had uninterrupted streaks. Someone replied several months ago that Ron's had come to an end due to an injury. If that's the case, then Bob must be closing in on the world's longest recorded running streak.

Anyway, RW has answered part of my question. Bob's streak is intact and is now longer than 30 years. It started just before he turned 30 and he is now 60 years old. He has kept meticulous records of his daily running and logged his 100,000th mile last July. He has averaged nine (9) miles per day for over 30 years!! And no shortcuts. Every run is a minimum of 4 miles....and he seldom runs longer than 11 miles. Incidentally, for most of those 30 years, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service and walked a mail route every day, in addition to running up to 100 miles per week! He currently averages 50 miles per week.

Although I haven't seen Bob since I last raced several years ago, I knew him fairly well when I was running seriously in the 80s. In fact, he was responsible for my only sub-70 minute 10 mile race. We ran the race together and finished a few seconds apart. I wouldn't have gotten under 70 without him. (Actually, I think he just stayed with me to pull me to a fast time....he knew that I really wanted a sub-7 minute pace for 10 miles. Then he moved from me pretty easily over the last 50 meters.) The RW article says that he still runs 10k's under 42 minutes....just as fast as he was running 8 years ago when I used to race him.

Actually, it was rare to find him in a race. He spent most weekend mornings officiating the start and finish of local races....from big events (like the Constellation 10k) to small club races. He would perform his starter duties in the (now defunct) Lady Equitable 10k, once one of the largest (3000+) all women's races in the U.S., dressed in a tux to "honor the ladies", as he would say. Sometimes, he would run a race's course, including the Maryland Marathon, early in the morning before race time to get in his daily run. Then, he would get the race started, set up and manage the finish line, assist with the awards ceremony and, finally, help pack everything up to be stored away for the next race. He is very active in the Baltimore Road Runners Club. He is the consummate volunteer, who gives more of himself to the sport of running than anyone else I have known.

I know this is boring to many of you, but one last anecdote concerning Bob and I'll shut up. One summer in the mid-80's, he toured the country in a van to run in each of the contiguous 48 states. As I recall, it took him less than two months. He was hosted by running clubs at some stops, welcomed at fire stations around the country for a bed and/or shower (he was also a volunteer fireman in Maryland), and spent many nights sleeping in his van. He was a bachelor then, and could readily get away for such an adventure. I knew beforehand that he was going to do it. But, I didn't know that he would run in Mobile, Alabama on a day when I was 40 miles away visiting my parents....until I read about him in the sports section of the Mobile newspaper the next day. By then, he had moved on to Pensacola, Florida, so I missed a chance to run with him in Mobile or Pensacola and share a little touch of his experience.

On top of all of that, Bob is one of the nicest guys I have ever known. Sometimes we say that all too casually. But in his case, it's really true. So, when you read your copy of the June RW, please realize that there is a lot more to the member of the Human Race and runner's runner named Bob Ray than a few streaking statistics. Impressive as his feat is, there are even greater attributes to this man!!

Jim2

Footnote: After I wrote this post in 1997, Bob continued his streak for another eight years. He chose to end the 38-year long streak on his 68th birthday, April 7, 2005. (See “The Streak Ends”.)