The Family That Runs, and Runs, Together

"Run streaks" are one of the weirder and more fascinating artificialities of running culture. And no one does them like the Pearsons.
Share |
Sure it looks like fun, but... oh, wait.

Image via Flickr user Kharied.

On September 3, 1994, eight-year-old Joel Pearson laced up his sneakers and went for a mile-long run. Every day since—more than 6,500 total—the Bellingham, Washington native has covered at least 5,280 feet, battling bumps, bruises, illness, the weather in his home state ("Three hundred days of rain," he says.), and other obstacles that would deter a less determined or, perhaps, simply normal human being.

Pearson's nearly 18 years of daily running is impressive. It is, however, nowhere near the longest active streak. There are more than one hundred so-called "run streaks" longer than Pearson's. The 26-year-old coach understands this fact. He's confronted by it every day, in an unusually intimate way—one of the names high on the list bears the Pearson surname. Joel's father, Jim, sits third. The former national champion and American record holder in the fifty-mile run began his run streak on February 16, 1970 and hasn't missed a day in nearly 16,000 twenty-four-hour periods.

"Just after college, my coach told me that I had to get more consistent. So I did. I kept a diary [of the miles I ran]. I put in a zero in on February 15, 1970. I didn't want to put a zero in again," he says over the phone while riding shotgun in his son's truck. The two are remarkably close. They coach together, the son now taking the lead with his 68-year-old father adding the lessons he's learned during a life spent running.

Jim and Joel are bonded by a love of their chosen sport and their strange, daily quest. Younger Pearson may never have started, however, if it wasn't for the influence of his older brother, Hopper, who currently boasts a run streak of almost three years. "I was looking at my dad's trophies in the basement," Joel says. "My brother told me that if dad continued to run every day until that February, he'd have his twenty-five years. That was the spark. I wanted to run with him to hit twenty-five years. I don't know if I was thinking clearly. I talked to dad about it and he wasn't too thrilled about it."

"I didn't want to do it," Jim says. "I was a teacher, and I'd run to school. Then, I'd run with the kids I coached, and then I'd run home. I told Joel I didn't want to wait a half hour and then go out again. He said he'd be waiting. I wanted to run at least a mile, because we live down a steep hill and I wasn't going up it unless we ran at least a mile."

"I didn't think he was going to do it for very long. I guess I was wrong," the elder Pearson says, laughing. Joel keeps driving.

***

Run streaks are a weird phenomenon. They are an entirely created entity. Jim didn't even know there was a name for his accomplishment until more than five years had passed. He ran, figuratively, into Ken Young at the fifty-mile nationals and the pair started talking. Pearson told Young he'd been going out every day, and Young said he'd been doing the same. Running streaks, gradually, became a thing with Young, who ran—again, figuratively—the national running data center, leading the way. He told Runner's World when he reached his 15-year mark, and the discipline gained more legitimacy at least among the subset of distance runners. Earlier this year, Young tore an adductor muscle near his left groin and ended his streak after forty-one years, 204 days. He's back running today.

The increasing popularity of run streaks mirrored the growing popularity of the sport. The United States Run Streak Association, Inc.—www.runeveryday.com, of course—currently boasts 334 people on its USA active list and another 231 on the retired list, including two Pearsons: Joel's uncle Don and his sister Paige. One of Joel's ex-girlfriends and his current girlfriend are also members of the club. "That wasn't planned," he says. "That just happened."

Officially, a person only needs to run a single mile a day to continue the streak, but neither Pearson adheres to this philosophy. Joel says he decided very early to run at least five kilometers every day, and he's pretty much done so ever since. His father estimates he's run over 175,000 miles during the past 42 or so years, averaging hundred-mile weeks for an 11-year stretch in the middle.

Both Jim and Joel have seen their streaks almost end. While the son's near-misses are the type of difficulties one would expect to have to overcome—a battle with pneumonia, a particularly scorching day in New Mexico—his father's tales are more dramatic. He hurt his knee helping out at Paige's play and couldn't stand the next day. Jim tried to run six times with increasing amounts of tape on the joint, but nothing worked. He accepted that the streak over until Joel came home and urged him to try once more. After protesting, the elder Pearson agreed. "I was swinging my arms wildly and holding my breath," Jim says. "We got through one-point-one miles."

A few years later, he was in Spokane, Washington running in a race. It was fourteen degrees, and winds gusted up to 55 miles-per-hour. Jim was struggling to breathe and found himself in last place. A race official asked him if he was okay. "I said yes, but I'm thinking, 'If I die, this is going to put a really bad name on the race, but if I don't get past the mile mark, I'm going to have to drive four hundred miles home and go running again,'" he says. "I kept going." Joel met him at the point-eight-mile mark and the pair finished together. They later found out the winner was blown off the course at one point.

Jim's closest call, however, came a month before the forty-year anniversary of his streak. As it turned out, the major reason for his troubles in Spokane was blood clots in his lungs, a symptom doctors diagnosed during a hospital visit weeks later. The nursing staff—a few of whom he had coached as high schoolers—were (understandably) reluctant to let him run, but Jim was determined. "[Joel and I] went for a walk and I found this really long hallway. I paced off the hallway and I figured five and a half trips would be a mile. I still didn't know what I was going to do it. And I was in my hospital gown," Jim says. "I went back to my room. Joel brought a long-sleeve shirt, and we snuck by the nurses' station. When we got to the hallway, I took off the gown, put on the shirt, and ran. At one point, there was a nurse in the hallway, so I hid. I ran six times down and back, just in case I mis-measured."

***

The thing about run streaks, of course, is that it's impossible to catch a person ahead of you until he or she stops running every day. Mark Covert and Jon Sutherland sit ahead of Jim by roughly 603 days, and they don't appear ready to give up soon. "The sad thing about moving up is the guys ahead of me are significantly younger. The leader looks like he could topple over any day, but Sutherland is tall, mean, and lean, and still races pretty well," Jim says. If a Pearson is going to hold the run streak record, it will likely be Joel. But first, he'll have to catch his father.

Can he? "I don't know. I'm going to keep adding days just in case. … He could catch me," Old Man Pearson says. "My dad lived until 79, but shoot, that would only put me at 53 years. But my mom's alive at 90, so I could go a few more."

The observation isn't morbid; it's fact. Son follows father follows son, running out and running back again.


Share |

Comments

I can"t envision concentrating sufficiently long to research; significantly less compose this sort of article. You"ve beaten yourself with this material. This is awesome substance. more help

Every one of the substance you said in post is too great and can be exceptionally valuable. I will remember it, a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing the data continue upgrading, looking forward for more posts.Thanks portrait studio Katy

“This golf course means a great deal to the city of Phoenix. This community spoke up and was heard loud and clear. They stood up and said we are not interested in having this type of development,” said Valenzuela, who pledged his support to keep the stipulations in place as long as the golf course was still open. latest technology

Coinsq.com provides all the information about realtime prices & market cap of cryptocurrencies and more. Ethereum price

On the off chance that more individuals that compose articles truly fretted about composing awesome substance like you, more perusers would be keen on their compositions. Much thanks to you for thinking about your substance. Friv 4 school

A debt of gratitude is in order for giving late reports with respect to the worry, I anticipate read more. Colorado Springs electricians

You’ve got some interesting points in this article. I would have never considered any of these if I didn’t come across this. Thanks!. Window Tint Colorado Springs

"I mainly attribute it to social and economic factors. Minority men are more likely to be unemployed, incarcerated or dead. I was fortunate to have the great support of my father," said Christopher Prado, 21, president of the student government at Cal State East Bay and the first member of his Mexican-American family to attend college. Car Wrap Colorado Springs

I'm happy I discovered this site, I couldn't discover any learning on this matter former to.Also work a website and on the off chance that you are ever inspired by doing some guest composing for me if conceivable don't hesitate to tell me, im dependably search for individuals to look at my site. head lice shampoo

You have a decent point here!I absolutely concur with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views...hope more individuals will read this article!!! Mr and Mrs Leads Colorado

Your music is astounding. You have some extremely skilled craftsmen. I wish you the best of accomplishment. Thomas Paquin

I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to undertand. Unlike additional blogs I have read which are really not tht good. I also found your posts very interesting. In fact after reading, I had to go show it to my friend and he ejoyed it as well! villas in Hanoi

I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates. Movers Melbourne

Every one of the substance you said in post is too great and can be exceptionally valuable. I will remember it, a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing the data continue upgrading, looking forward for more posts.Thanks Patient Financing

Keep doing awesome read few posts on this site and I imagine that your online journal is exceptionally fascinating and has sets of phenomenal data. custom home builders gold coast

Positive webpage, where did u think of the data on this posting?I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style. You're the best and please keep up the compelling work. cheap color copies online

“You guys at Vista Glass are awesome! Not only did you handle my claim with my insurance within minutes, but you managed to fit me in and accommodate to my time constraints. Thanks for the great service!” Glass repair

I truly relish whilst I go through your blogs and articles. limo service in charlestonsc

Pleasant post. I was checking continually this online journal and I am inspired! To a great degree accommodating data uniquely the last part I watch over such information a considerable measure. I was looking for this specific data for quite a while. Much obliged to you and good fortunes. Jimmy Hogg

This article was composed by a genuine deduction essayist. I concur a hefty portion of the with the strong focuses made by the essayist. I"ll be back. invokana lawsuits

Your music is astonishing. You have some extremely gifted craftsmen. I wish you the best of progress. Tobacco

The roles of nursing deans and education directors have expanded significantly over the last several years, and traditional models do not prepare these professionals for leading others, developing long range strategic plans, building alliances and executing joint ventures, or raising money. Ark admin commands ps4

The names of potential buyers were also thrown out during the meeting, in hopes that a deal can be organized for the purchase of the course by another golf course operator. double sided tape

Marvelous web journal. I appreciated perusing your articles. This is really an incredible read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am anticipating perusing new articles. Keep doing awesome! More about the author

Your music is astonishing. You have some extremely gifted craftsmen. I wish you the best of progress. Nigeria custom import duty tariff

I can see that you are a specialist at your field! I am dispatching a site soon, and your data will be extremely helpful for me.. Much obliged for all your help and wishing all of you the accomplishment in your business. 4 AIRPORT TAXI MSP

I havent any word to welcome this post.....Really i am inspired from this post....the individual who make this post it was an extraordinary human..thanks for imparted this to us. Get free hotstar premium

Yes i am completely concurred with this article and i simply need say this article is extremely decent and exceptionally useful article.I will make a point to be perusing your blog more. You made a decent point yet I can"t resist the urge to ponder, shouldn"t something be said about the other side? !!!!!!THANKS!!!!!! black polythene

This article was composed by a genuine speculation essayist. I concur a hefty portion of the with the strong focuses made by the essayist. I'll be back. cheap holidays to morocco

I get to the client's apartment, osculation him hello, bespeak myself to the loo, surreptitiously pay up the bag heavy of change on the hallway table. this content

Intriguing post. I Have Been pondering about this issue, so a debt of gratitude is in order for posting. Really cool post.It 's truly extremely pleasant and Useful post.Thanks Forest Row Accountants

Great job for publishing such a beneficial web site. Your web log isn’t only useful but it is additionally really creative too. There tend to be not many people who can certainly write not so simple posts that artistically. Continue the nice writing 3d rendering services

This substance is composed extremely well. Your utilization of organizing when mentioning your focuses makes your objective facts clear and straightforward. Much obliged to you. une bonne strategie d'investissement

Making a piece of jewelry is always a challenge but it’s easier if you work it through in your mind before you begin, and then convince yourself that this is a good starting point. The gem I am working with is a lovely and unusual cut, a square cushion shaped garnet with a modified step cut crown and multi-faceted pavilion. A stone like this gives me an opportunity to show off a little.The my blog

Much obliged to you for setting aside an ideal opportunity to distribute this data extremely valuable! Company Accountants

This article was composed by a genuine speculation essayist. I concur a hefty portion of the with the strong focuses made by the essayist. I'll be back. สมัคร gclub

Marvelous and fascinating article. Incredible things you"ve generally imparted to us. Much obliged. Simply keep making this kind out of post. Tax Accountant

Marvelous and fascinating article. Incredible things you've generally imparted to us. Much obliged. Simply keep making this kind out of post. heritiers

Keep doing awesome read few posts on this site and I imagine that your online journal is exceptionally fascinating and has sets of phenomenal data. cheap Autocad

Awesome substance material and extraordinary design. Your site merits the greater part of the positive input it"s been getting. live sub count

Much thanks to you so much Love your web journal.. google adwords bogota

Hire a live band to make your party successful. Hire the live band depending on the party type of the music type. The website tells you how to hire a live bands for the ultimate party success. souldesire.co.uk

I know your aptitude on this. I must say we ought to have an online talk on this. Composing just remarks will close the examination straight away! What's more, will confine the advantages from this data. voyance immediate

This is a decent post. This post gives genuinely quality data. I'm unquestionably going to investigate it. Truly extremely valuable tips are given here. Much obliged to you to such an extent. Keep up the benevolent acts. 3d walkthrough animation services

Stunning, cool post. I'd like to compose like this as well – requiring some serious energy and genuine diligent work to make an extraordinary article… yet I put things off a lot of and never appear to begin. Much appreciated however. elderly care in essex county

Key West is very popular among tourists owing to the calm and uniqueness that it has. places visit key west

"We provide professional and affordable services to clients in the Jacksonville area. Leave the worry out of the equation by taking advantage of our screen repair service, and letting the experts handle it. We'd love the opportunity to work with you and show why our exceptional service sets us apart from the rest of the field.
We have... professional installers, free estimates, satisfaction guaranteed, Phifer sun and shade control products.
We do... Screen Enclosure Repair, Pool Enclosure Repair, Screen Repair Service, Per Panel Screen Repair, Window Screen Repair, Screen Door Repair, Window Screen Replacement, Sliding Screen Door Repair, Full Re-Screen Service, Rusty Bolt Replacement, and More." Pool Enclosure Repair

Simply respecting your work and thinking about how you dealt with this site so well. It's remarkable to the point that I can't bear to not experience this significant data at whatever point I surf the web! foreclosure attorney charleston sc

This article was composed by a genuine speculation essayist. I concur a hefty portion of the with the strong focuses made by the essayist. I'll be back. curso de marketing digital en bogota

This is extremely instructive substance and composed well for a change. It's pleasant to see that a few individuals still see how to compose a quality post! Markham brakes