20 Years Running Streak – Interview with Bo Marchionte

On January 4th 1998 Bo started a running streak that will continue for 7,671 days. We asked him a few questions about it.

Q: Let’s start with some statistics: If I am calculating correctly, that makes it 7,670 days. Do you know how many miles you have run in all this time? 
Did you keep a similar mileage each year or have you gone up, down… ? Shortest run? Longest run?

Appreciate your interest in the running streak and hopefully it can help ignite a fire in others to get active. If your math and my math are correct, then yes it will be 7,670 (7,671 if we use end date) straight days running at least three miles.

The miles have increased as the running progressed. The beginning it was three to five miles a day. Then is grew to six to seven miles per day. For the longest time now, it has been eight to ten miles a day. There is a running calculator that keeps rolling in my mind week to week. Reaching 60 to 70-plus miles a week is the average goal. When the feeling is right, it could be running 13 to 14 miles for four or fives days in a row. Just depends on the time allowed each week.

Estimated miles ran are roughly a little over 52,000 miles overall. That is two full rotations around planet Earth with the third being in the infant stages.

Q: I want to go back to when you started. Were you are a runner already? What made you decide to go for a running streak?

Running never was something I enjoyed. Growing up and playing soccer the idea of running was used as punishment. Then in high school our soccer ran more than the cross-country team. That is all we did was run then run again. Practice soccer for 15 minutes then go home.

After high school, I started to flirt with it a little. Could be 2am and I would be up watching ESPN SportsCenter and think go for a run. It was down the block maybe a quarter mile if that. Maybe it was just trying to stay fit but really do not remember why I began to run at that point in my life.

Running was given birth after I started dating my wife. She was real fit went to the YWCA all the time. She would then scorch me on being able to run farther and faster.

We set off one day and my pace was quicker and basically after that I began to pick it up more and more each day. It was a simple course a tad over three miles. Each day after work or during lunch I ran. It then continued to just grow from that point on.

I ran nearly every day prior to the streak. Forgive me for not knowing the exact amount, but prior to the streak, there were a few streaks of like 14 to 18 days.

The idea of going on this streak really came to fruition as Cal Ripkin Jr., was on the verge of breaking Major League Baseball’s consecutive game streak all-time record.

I thought this was a unique way for me to capture something a little different that I could call my own. Eventually I reached his consecutive mark of 2,632, but by then my mind was set on just running regardless of Ripken.

Q: What boggles my mind is that I understand good intentions, but how did you manage never to miss a run?

Have you never been sick in bed for 20 years? Or traveling somewhere without your running gear?

Trust me I’ve lived it and there are days when reflecting on it and it is truly remarkable that I’ve been able to get after it every single day. I’ll try to think of certain days or events and think about when I went running that day.

The blessing is that catastrophic injuries have avoided me over the course of this journey. Without that blessing then this never happens. I clap my hands together after every run or say under my breath, “Thank you God.”

The worst I ever felt was after finishing my first 50-miler. It was the body feeling fatigued but coincided with getting sick. Since that time, I do not remember my body being so completely drained.

It was a lethal draining combination that knocked me on my butt. It was like three or four days and it was miserable. Zero energy and a pounding head that showed no mercy. It was agony. Since that time, any ultra-race I run I schedule a doctor’s appointment the very next day after the race in case the nastiness is on it’s way.

It is not boasting and do not want to come across as cocky or conceded but there is a toughness that gets lost in translation. There is pain, aches and sickness. Running through a variety of issues like ankle twists and nasty trail falls. Immediately get up as quick as I can pray and pray again saying, “Bo keep going.”

My wife just said on New Year’s Day, she was more impressed with me running that day then after my first 100-miler. The reason was we were at my cousins until 4am, drinking and dancing as we welcomed in the new year. Two hours after getting home, I had to awake to a matter that had to be dealt with immediately. Basically, zero sleep, hungover but none the less the run was completed after the task. When she heard me leave the house while lying in bed, she said, “that poor thing.”

Plenty of people face real challenges in their lives, which I’d probably crumble to deal with if that situation fell into my lap, but under running circumstances I’m able to be manage and push through.

When it comes to sickness, there are 24 hours in a day. There must be at least 15 to 30 minutes of time within that window to get a run in or exercise. That is my mindset.

When head colds and nastiness settle into my body, I try my best to sweat it out. I’ll wear a plastic sweat top with several layers of warm clothes. The old saying goes, ‘sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, the bar eats you.’

Did I ever forget my running shoes?

Yes, it when traveling to Athens, Ohio to cover the Bobcats football game and before the game I planned on running at Strouds Run State Park, I got there and forgot my shoes. I went to Walmart bought a pair and hit the trails. Also marked the first time I got lost and had to hitchhike back to the car. Now there is a pair of Asics packed in the trunk or my car after that mishap.

Q: Tell us a bit more about yourself. Do you run for a living?

I do not run for a living, but I do run to live. I’ve been married to my wife Wendy for 22-years and begin dating back in 1991. She is a selfless beauty who allows me to go off everyday and enjoy this passion.

She isn’t even jealous of my ‘mistress’ that is the name I’ve given to Mill Creek Park the place frequent nearly every day. It is a comical joke amongst family and friends on if I was with the ‘mistress’ that day.

We have two children a son (Vincent 18) and daughter (Isabella 17). Since they were born, they were with me in a running stroller which also allowed for my wife to take a little time to herself. It was a win-win for everyone.

It just made me think of the morning of 9/11, my son was captivated by a low flying jumbo jet in the middle of our run. He loved seeing planes and was roughly 15 months old. It turned out to be Flight 93 that crashed in Somerset, Pennsylvania. There have been so many memories captured over the course of this journey.

The birth of our children to the deaths of my grandparents. The three miles were put in place. The passing of my one of my grandfathers may have been one of the trickiest days. I was raking leaves and the phone rang with my mom saying he had past away. Immediately dropped what I was doing and headed to the nursing home where the family gathered to cry and remember our champion.

Then it was time for a large Italian family to gather and begin the healing process that usually centers around food and family. I had to go with my uncle to pick up food, but told him I “MUST” get the run in. Told him to wait in the house for 20 some minutes, while I got the run in.

Q: Do you have sponsors, or companies that help you with your running gear?

Asics has been kind in sending shoes and some gear over the last three years. While not committing to paying me or providing any official titles. They are reluctant go beyond that phase. It was super exciting getting a beautiful baby blue pair of Gel-Nimbus 21’s back in December when they are not sold to the public until mid-January.

I call it gluttony with the collection of running shoes I currently have in my possession. Before Asics began showing their support, every February, I would buy a new pair of shoes. Those shoes would be used every day and when they reached their end, they were completely unrecognizable. It was possible certain shoes exceeding 2,300 miles per pair before being retired.

Thanks to Asics there is a basket full of shoes, which makes me tend to think of trying to work with Asics to provide shoes to those in need. Surely a nice pair of running shoes, might persuade a child to take up the life long gift of running.

EarthWater is another product I ambassador and love their product. It has helped eliminate drinking sugar drinks and such. They provide gear and supply me with a fantastic rehydration and recovery drink.

If offers healthier alternative in my opinion to other products in the sports nutrition category. It is fair to say I take being able to do this every day very serious and I believe that this product is a valuable alley in keeping me running with a consistent performance. I do love it.

Q: What constitutes a “run day” for you? If you lace your shoes up and run around the block – does that count? 
If you run a 50-miler race the day before, do you still have a normal run the day after?

Three miles constitutes a running day. If I lace up my shoes and run around the block it must be as many times around the block that equals three miles to constitute a running day.

The only time I was knowingly and willingly jeopardizing the running streak was when attempting to run my first 100-miler. It is such an unknown and the possibilities of something going wrong grow enormously as the miles pile up.

Not going to sugarcoat the run the next day. It was hell. Weather was hot and remember just trying to shuffle my legs back and forth. I relish the idea of recovery after 100-miles. It is the only time I feel a true sense off accomplishment. Sometimes it is the adversity of it all that gives this journey life.

Q: 20 years is a long time to observe the running world around you. Let’s start with shoes. Are the shoes you run in currently much different than the shoes you run in 1998? Are they better? 

Great question! Coming from you the Running Shoes Guru that is a great question. Would love to hear your response!

When I started dip my feet in the shallow waters of running before leaping into the abyss. The first shoe I began running in was an indoor soccer shoe. After the I remember running in Nike for the long time. All my running shoes had to be black, if they weren’t completely all black, I did not buy them.

It might have been the Nike Decadence or something like that. It was a simple low end 35-dollar shoe. Then the Nike Kukini was a longtime favorite. I loved those shoes. No laces just slipping them was Heaven.

Then the Nike Shox joined the fray. That was another individual shoe that had a good tenure in the streak. I remember the first 100-miler and another runner’s pacer was yelling at me, and simply disgusted I was running in a pair of Nike Shox.

Reflecting on that story made me remember the Nike Shox were women sized. Going to the mall they never had an 8 or 8.5 in men’s, so I went to the women’s side to grab my running shoes.

Before the Chicago Marathon, at the expo I purchased a pair of women’s Mizuno shoes and those were one of my all-time favorites. Some fantastic pace was brought from wearing those shoes.

Saucony surfaced as a real force in my running life as well. Ironically, I went from buying nothing but black to then wanting the most outrageous colored shoes I could find. Saucony had some wonderful color combinations and truthfully the feel of the shoe is not as important as the look for me.

Hence, I’m not going to run in a pair of shoes that aren’t comfortable. But if the yellow with glitter pair makes me feel fast then I’m wearing that over the ugly boring shoe that might give me better performance, as stupid as that sounds it is the truth.

Eventually I turned to Asics and haven’t looked back. Both the Gel Cumulus and Gel Nimbus have become valuable assets in keeping me moving.

Maybe two months ago I purchased the Asics Gel Scram 4, a trail shoe and I absolutely love that shoe. You know when you know you just love a shoe. I love that shoe.

Q: What about everything else? From GPS watches to compression gear and power meters… what evolution benefitted you the most, and which ones are nice to have, but haven’t really helped you much?

The biggest evolution and benefit for me has been the ability to run with music. Heck I might want my music to be perfect more so than my shoes. Never used the GPS watches and have zero clue what power meters are, which I apologize. The over indulgence of the Nike+Apple sensor product ruined the future of tracking my running days.

Music is such an enormous factor for me to really get after it. Way back in the 90s and runners reading this from that time frame with remember wearing the ‘Tune Belt’ it straps across your waste to carry your cassette player and then the even more bulky portable CD players. Running with a bulky CD player that skipped all the time. Imagine running like that today!

Have not thought about the awkwardness of those devices until now. Most definitely a musical paradise for runners today compared to when we all ran years ago. Music plays such an enormous role in motivation. The is so accessible, easy to use and lightweight.

Recently have tried and used KT Tape. I have found it to be a useful and terrific product.

Q: Running is vastly more popular now than it ever was. Did you notice that? 
If you can think of trends that came up in these 20 years and when… what would they be?

The distances are the one thing that grabs my attention. When I was beginning to get into running the ‘Marathon’ was the almighty beast to conquer.

I remember seeing the Leadville 100 and saying to myself years and years ago that I wanted to run that race. While never running the Leadville 100-mile race, I have attempted six 100-mile races and completed four.

This hits on the question of a coming trend with ultra-races.

I kept telling everyone I knew or whoever wanted to listen that running a marathon would become the next generations 5k. There are so many runners now that have gone beyond 26.2, in which they claim victory.

This is not a slam but a motivational way to others to know they can achieve a marathon distance.

Orpah Winfrey ran and completed the Chicago Marathon. While she is gifted and brilliant in a vast arrange of areas, being an athlete is not one of the hallmarks of her illustrious career. She got motivated and did the work. Crossing that finish line!

Is Oprah a better athlete than you?

Now go run a marathon.

Q: Still on trends.. is there something that became a trend, you totally bought into it, but looking back you realised it was not worth it?

I used the Nike sensor years ago, but since then I’ve preferred to leave that stuff alone, but I do not knock any of it. If any of those products help motivate and keep people moving and enjoying this wonderful activity, then keep using it.

I had the Nike sensor that went in the shoe and obsessed over it. When I’d plug it in the laptop to retrieve the data and it would sometimes fail. I’d either do the run all over again or feel like I didn’t run at all. It is the reason I do not use GPS watches or a Garmin. It was a great motivator since I love statistics, but in the end, it wasn’t a mentally healthy way to run every day.

Q: Let us talk injuries. Have you had any? What did you do to avoid them, and to recover quickly enough to keep running?

Yes, injuries have occurred.

Very fortunate that nothing catastrophic has happened. A laundry list of aches and pain could be mentioned. I’ve dealt with them all. A nasty ankle sprain that sent me to the ER to get x-rays. The next day I ran, and it was tight at first but after awhile muscle memory kicks in. If you want to take my advice, ‘DO NOT” rest it. Keep running on it and elevate as much as possible.

A pulled groin of sorts about two years ago, really caused some discomfort. So, I’m in Dearborn, Michigan in the February been dealing with this problem for nearly two months and slip on an icy trail and do the same exact thing I’m trying to desperately avoid. I feel a sharp pinch and curse myself up and down.

God’s honest truth, it cured whatever was hurting in the first place. That quick pinch of pain must have worked it back into place.

I always take baths. Love soaking in the tub and it is a must. Turn on the cold water and jump in after a hot run in the summer. It sucks at first but then your body just meshes with the water. It helps tremendously.

Same thing with a hot bath and soaking in Epson salt. Encourage runners to try it. The bathtub can be one of your best allies in running pain free.

I do not stretch. I tie my laces and go. This doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t stretch. My only advice is to do what makes you feel your best. If touching your toes makes you feel like a super human. Then do it!

Q: Silly mistakes that set you back and that you learned to avoid ?

One huge disadvantage I have created for myself is not signing up for a lot of races. So, when I do sign up for a race it tends to over extend its invitation in my mind. I’ll obsess over it.

Perfect example, in 2017, I took to getting serious because I wanted to have a strong run in a 50-miler. I put in the miles and ate healthy and then decided to go against the norm and tapper off in miles.

Wrong idea!

Worst decision ever. My body just likes to go it doesn’t like rest. I felt sluggish and weak the entire race even after dialing down my miles leading up the race.

I try to push myself as much possible, but I do not try to beat myself up. If that makes any sense. I think I see a lot of people doing all kinds of different things in order to become better runners, when they simply aren’t running enough.

Q: What is the best ally? Training and preparation that come with experience with age, or a young body that can recover quickly?
What I am really asking here is… Can you – reasonably – constantly improve or is there a point where you need to accept you are not 25 anymore and need to dial back a little?

Honestly, I know that I’m not as agile and crafty on the trails as I used to be, and I know that. A little has to do with self-preservation after falling here or there.

When your young and wild your more tempted to tempt fate, and as you grow older those temptations are held in check a little bit more. The idea of waking up tomorrow and running outweighs the reward of sprinting down a rock covered trail and possibly hurting myself.

Currently, I feel as good as I have felt in a while.

Dialing it back is inevitable, although I do feel that some of my best times remain very much in play. Serious training usually doesn’t happen and usually if I feel good around the race sign up time, I’ll sign up. I’m optimistic that better days lie ahead before the limitations begin to settle in.

I’m always training, because I’m running every day. I could sign up for basically any distance that my heart had in mind. I cherish that ability to decide on a whim. Doesn’t mean I’ll do well, and it also coincides me with getting my butt kicked on the course. That is a price I unfortunately pay sometimes.

I love running. I’m thankful that you allowed me to share some of the experiences that I’ve had over the years. I encourage anyone who has an interest to begin to take their first steps in this marvelous life improving hobby.

Remember if you sign up for a race and there are 100 people slower than you, then you’ll finish first. If another 100 show up in another race that are faster, sadly you will finish last.

In other words, running is about you!

No one else…

Thank you Bo for your time and your insights! Congratulations again on this goal and best of luck on your next 20 years of running!




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