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9000 Days – A Visit With John Wallace

Shoeless Joe Mini Interview #1 - John Wallace

Hey everyone! Aren’t we all excited for that Saved By The Bell feature on Lifetime in a couple weeks? While I wait, I sat down for a mini interview with fellow #SRCBrooks member John Wallace! I would beat John in most races that are shorter than 24 hours long (pauses for applause), but I can’t hold a candle to his consistency and longevity. Not only is John *really* old (he has two kids!), he’s run, as of today, 8,999 days in a row! Tomorrow is the big #9,000, so we thought we’d honor his odd addiction with some prime website real estate. Enjoy!

(If you’re not into reading and would rather just run with John, tomorrow he’s inviting anyone/everyone to join him for the 9000th run. Details here.)

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SJ: Hi John, I’m Joe. We met at a couple SRC board meetings, in case you don’t remember me. Win Van Pelt told me to interview you about some “9000 days, 9000 miles” something or other. I could barely decipher his email. Do you know what he’s talking about?
JW: Hi Joe, or do you prefer Mr. Creighton?

SJ: Mr. Creighton will be fine.
JW: Yes, tomorrow, August 21st, will be my 9000th consecutive day of running.

SJ: 9000 days in a row?! Wow, that’s like…35 years ago right?! You can’t be much older than 40. Did you really start when you were only 5 years old?
JW: That’s closing in on 24 full years and year 25 will start on New Year’s Eve. It started on a cold wintery Michigan day; December 31st, 1989. I thought I’d get in some training miles for a New Year’s Day 5 mile race. I started the streak a few days before my 14th birthday, of course not intending to run everyday for a full week or month, much less a couple decades. There isn’t really anything special about the first run. It was just our regular 4 mile loop and I didn’t even take an accurate time. The race went well and I went out again the next day. After a week straight, my dad placed a bet. The first person to miss a day has to pay the other one $20. Another week passed and still going strong. January passed and I wasn’t about to lose $20. Two months, six months and finally a whole year passed. Today, I am the youngest person to get to 9000 straight days. About two years younger then the next guy who is #3 on the active list with 43+ years right now.

John as a kid

SJ: How long before CPS rescued you from your dad? rotflmao!
JW: Luckily head of CPS was also a local streak runner. He was actually disappointed I didn’t start earlier.

SJ: What counts as a “running day”?
JW: The official definition of a running streak, as adopted by the Streak Runners International, Inc., and United States Running Streak Association, Inc., is to run at least one continuous mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day under one’s own body power (without the utilization of any type of health or mechanical aid other than prosthetic devices).

Running under one’s own body power can occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill. Running cannot occur through the use of canes, crutches or banisters, or reliance on pools or aquatic devices to create artificial buoyancy.

Technicalities aside, run a complete mile every day without stopping. Watch out for time zones, International Date Lines, and taking naps after 11pm.

SJ: So you started the streak when you were 14 years old. That means it spanned your entire high school tenure. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you weren’t homecoming king.
JW: Correct. Although I had my picture taken with all the homecoming queens (benefits of my father being official school photographer).

SJ: Were there ever any close calls in high school or college? I’m thinking along the lines of…you’re in the back of your dad’s Impala with Susie, and you see it’s 11:47pm and you still haven’t gotten your run in. Are you telling me you actually told Susie to hang tight while you squeezed in a quick mile?
JW: A couple of minor updates on the facts: it was a Plymouth Reliant and 11:53pm. Not any extremely close calls. I did miss the end of Twister to get a mall parking lot mile in. I think I missed the end of The Lion King as well but not sure why I was watching that in college anyway. Had an emergency appendectomy my junior year of college and ran 12 hours after that, trying to keep the glue from coming apart on my incision. Everyone that knew about the streak in high school or college would not let me miss a day. They all said “not on my watch.” So it was pretty easy to get in the miles.

SJ: Your friends sound pretty sadistic. Having started so young, you surely learned the hard way about how to best schedule around events and potential emergencies. What was the most recent lesson you learned?
JW: Have backup plans for your backup plans. I can’t be leaving my 6-year old to watch my 1-year old while I head out on an easy 10. You generally can find 10-15 minutes in your day to get in a mile. I haven’t had any jeans runs lately so planning must be going well. I have amazing neighbors and family that can help out with the kids in a crunch. It’s actually much tougher to convince my wife to keep them for a six-day run. But that’s another story!

SJ: You obviously have a(n admittedly harmless) form of OCD that you might need to see a therapist about, but can you look into the future and see any potential events or causes that could force your hand and have you end the streak?
JW: There are no specific threats but there are things I know I won’t be able to do unless/until the streak ends. Summit Mt. Everest. Space Walk. Command a nuclear submarine (unless there was a treadmill on board). I suppose amputation might be something to worry about. I have heard anecdotal evidence of women running close to or on the days of giving birth. That’s hard core!

John Wallace Ran Across The Country in 2004

SJ: I’m going to guess this isn’t the only “streak” you’re in the midst of…spill the beans John.
JW: I had a few mini streaks during the main streak. I ran only in daylight for a full year, which is harder than it sounds. I ran a minimum of 2 miles per day for a year. I ran 4 miles a day and only 4 miles for a whole month. You have to mix things up!

SJ: You sound like a wild man. Based on your experiences growing up and now being a grown adult father, how will you feel if any of your own kids want to follow in dad and grandpa’s footsteps? Would you recommend it to them?
JW: My son and I just had to walk 0.3 miles *downhill* from the parking lot to work today.

SJ: Wait, your 6 year old son has a job? Maybe I should call CPS on *you*!
JW: If you call playing Jetpack Joyride, organizing Pokemon cards, and sketching Angry Birds then you got me!

SJ: I like Angry Birds!
JW: Anyway, he was not happy with that walk and wanted to be dropped off at the front door. I’m not too worried about him yet. He’ll have to ramp up pretty quickly though because there is a guy that started at nine years old erasing all my “youngest to xxxx days” records. He already has a few races under his belt though and likes to be first at everything. It’s not something I’d force on him, but if it came naturally that would be great.

John Wallace Is A Baby John Wallace's Streak Begins John Wallace Competing As A Kid
John Wallace 2 Years In John Wallace And A Time Keeper John Wallace's Unfortunate Mustache
John Wallace Almost Dying In The Grand Canyon But Not! John Wallace Almost Dying In The Grand Canyon But Not! John Wallace Ran Across America in 2008

SJ: If I were you, I’d make an event of this 9000th day. Like a group run or something, followed by cake. You ever consider that?
JW: Great idea. 5:30am. Corner of California Ave SW and SW Alaska St in West Seattle (Map. 5-6 miles. If you’re not in the Seattle area, I’m looking for folks to combine all their mileage run on that day in the hopes of reaching 9000. Obligatory Facebook Event Page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/927089323984849/

Or go straight to the mileage entry page on 8/21: http://bit.ly/9000days

SJ: On a scale of 1-10, how much do you *really* believe that your dad doesn’t owe you $20?
JW: So it’s $20 per year, which will be $500 at the end of this year. As there is definitely no fame or fortune involved in this endeavor, I’d give it a solid 10. Let me reread that poorly worded question…I’ll just say that I believe he’s run all 8999 days in a row as well and we’ll both see how 9000 goes tomorrow!

SJ: Final question. With your ability to stay healthy, I bet people would love to know what your favorite pair of Vibrams are!
JW: I do have a great pair of hiking boots with Vibram outsole. For running I love the Brooks Launch, Ghost and want to try out the new Grits.

SJ: Good enough! Any Plans for the 10,000th day?
JW: Take a day off? :)
Maybe take another crack at the fastest run across America?
Maybe a 10k with my almost 10 year old?
Day 20,000 or 25,000 will be a big celebration!
Maybe cake…?

SJ: I like cake!

John Wallace and SRC

Prior Episodes (warning: much longer and harder to get through)

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Joe writes long-winded blog entries about running and/or television shows from the 80s. When not writing bios in the 3rd person, he can be found running around Cap Hill & W. Seattle, or pretending to be an employee at Fleet Feet Seattle.

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