Through rain and snow and sleet and hail, in the summer sun and through every kind of illness and ache, Kevin Lounsbury of Crozet gets up every morning and runs 10.5 miles. He’s been doing this without a day off since June 27, 2009, and hopes to continue for the foreseeable future. He runs in a loop around Crozet, starting at his home in Orchard Acres and continuing on Railroad Avenue. By the time this issue of the Gazette comes out, he will have run close to 3,270 days without a break.
But Lounsbury has other goals and the morning run is not enough. He aims for 100 miles each week, so he fits in another run of 5.5 miles during his lunch hour, looping around Waynesboro where he works for DuPont Community Credit Union. One immediate goal is to have run 80,000 miles by the end of the month: a longer-range intention is to run 100,000 miles by his mother’s 90th birthday in 2023.
In the beginning, he took up running at his family home in upstate New York so he could compete with his brother. As a young man, he was troubled by shin splints, but still ran track and cross country for Bridgewater College. He eventually outgrew the shin splints and embarked on setting ambitious personal records for mileage accumulated and number of days without a break. His mileage count began in 2001.
His count of days run in a row has been more complicated. He’s had a couple of previous streaks that ended with sickness. One ended in 2007, when he experienced severe pain that he attributed to food poisoning. “I had eaten a steak that was kind of old, so I blamed that,” he said. “It turned out that I had a kidney stone instead.” Fastidious when it comes to recordkeeping, he did not count the painful start-and-stop mile or so he ran that day, so had to start over. With the help of medication, he was out again the next day and continued every day until June of 2009, when symptoms of a heart attack brought him to the doctor. Once again, the diagnosis was something a little easier to fix. He had pneumonia, not heart trouble, but was able to have a couple of weeks rest until it was discovered: “The best vacation I ever had,” he said.
The 60-year-old Lounsbury keeps his weight in the 120s and eats a mainly healthy diet. “I’ve got a weakness when it comes to marshmallows and gummy bears, though,” he said. He’s learned to avoid cakes, pies and cookies and doesn’t follow any of the specific dietary fetishes that many competitive runners adopt. “It seems unnatural to have too much of any one food group.”
As you might expect from his meticulous tracking of days and miles, Lounsbury is scrupulous about the equipment that keeps him plunging on towards his goals. Each pair of shoes lasts from 4 to 5 weeks, and he keeps track of the miles on his shoes while also double checking his mile count by writing the total mileage run by each pair on the shoe box. “Sometimes they’re good for more than 500 miles, sometimes not,” he said, “When they start to feel funny, I replace them.” The boxes are stacked in his Crozet closet, a road-worn history of each month or so of his running life.
His five plus lunchtime miles in Waynesboro presented a dilemma, but one that he’s successfully solved. “My employers weren’t about to put a shower in my office,” he said, “but I joined the Waynesboro YMCA and I shower there.” If it takes a little longer than the normal lunch hour, no one’s ever complained: “I don’t think they want me to come back to work without a shower,” he said. He said his devotion to his unbroken every-day running streak has made him a very conscientious employee. “Someone else may stay out when they’re just slightly sick, but not me,” he said. “I figure if I feel well enough to run, then I’ve got to show up.”
Lounsbury enters a couple of races every year and normally will win in his age group. “What I like better is beating the younger ones,” he said. But competition is a sidelight for him, a distraction from his real passion: tying on his Brooks running shoes and getting in the road alone, day after day, week after week.
Even though his routes are mostly repetitive, Lounsbury said the ability to cram so much exercise in such a short time keeps it interesting. The thought of going for a leisurely walk or a bike ride just doesn’t appeal to him. “Too slow,” he said. “I’d get bored.”