Sports

A calendar year of running

For Ross Robinson, 2004 ends as it begins – on the track. The island running enthusiast has pounded the pavement every single day this year, a fitness strategy known as “streaking.”  - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
For Ross Robinson, 2004 ends as it begins – on the track. The island running enthusiast has pounded the pavement every single day this year, a fitness strategy known as “streaking.”
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

Ross Robinson ‘streaks’ through a busy 2004.

At about this time last year, islander Ross Robinson began considering how he could keep his running routine fresh and alive.

The answer quickly became obvious: streaking.

To most people, streakers are exhibitionists (almost always male) who display their assets during short dashes in public places, but to runners, streakers are dedicated individuals who run – with clothes – every day during a calendar year, and in some cases, year after year.

Robinson did a bit of web-based research, which revealed a number of approaches. One was a guy who did all his errands in town on foot, flitting from store to store.

“I realized that I had permission to do a little or a lot,” says the 43-year-old Robinson, a self-employed spiritual director and chaplaincy hospice trainer. “I also wanted it to be gentle. The only option I didn’t have was to take a day off.”

Barring something unforeseen, Robinson will conclude 2004 in the same manner in which he began it: low-key running, somewhere between 40 minutes and just over an hour.

He estimates that at a minimum of four to five miles a day, he’ll have covered at least half the distance across the United States.

The streak has had a few close calls. One came during an April trip to Switzerland.

“Technically I lost a day in the air,” he says.

But he ran as soon as he got up the following morning. By his body clock, it was still late the previous evening.

A few days later, he found himself in a mountain village where there was still plenty of snow on the ground. He followed a paved path that soon ended and required him to blaze a trail in the snow. Gasping for breath at the 6,400-foot elevation, he passed a farmer.

“He gave me a look that said, ‘You’re an idiot.’ I was very glad to turn around,” Robinson recalls.

A brief case of stomach flu at the end of October was probably his closest brush with a premature end to the streak.

“I took a short walk, and it felt like a marathon. I felt very fragile,” he says.

Earlier that month he had his most surreal experience. A packed schedule during the rest of the day sent him out the door at 4 a.m.

“It was pitch-black, so I took a flashlight,” he recalls. “Soon I saw four or five police cars in silent mode. It was obvious that something was going on. They saw a guy in tights running around carrying a flashlight, but they didn’t say anything to me.

“It made me appreciate those guys, out there 24/7.”

Will he go for a two-fer?

“I don’t know,” he admits. “I’ll just see how it goes. I don’t feel worn down at all. Last year, I had more joint pain. If I took time off I felt worse. This has been a remarkably gentle year on my body.”

He adds, “I definitely recommend it. The commitment and the continuity are good if you’re not compulsive.”

And there are the memories.A few weeks ago, Robinson happened to be running downtown during the tree-lighting ceremony.

“The ferry had just unloaded, and drivers were frustrated. But I was on foot, so I could come and go as I wanted. There was Santa on the fire engine, people were singing, there was a sense of community, of gratitude. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone for my run.

“It was my Christmas moment.”

* * * * *

New Year’s run

Ross Robinson invites fellow runners and walkers to join him on New Year’s Day at 10 a.m. at the picnic shelter near the east entrance of Battle Point Park.

“There’s no set distance or pace,” Robinson says. “I’ll probably do a couple of laps.”

He asks participants to bring a food donation for Helpline House.

“Dec. 31 is about me,” he adds. “Jan. 1 is about the community.”

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